Languages and Eighth Schedule

Is Medical Education in Hindi Practicable?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NA

Mains level : Promoting Hindi language and associated issues

Context

  • The unveiling of the Hindi editions of the first professional MBBS books by Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Bhopal has stirred anti-Hindi agitations, with the Opposition, especially in the South, contending that the move is nothing more than a poll gimmick.

Why medical education should be in local language (Hindi)?

  • Example of Non-English countries: Supporters of the move are quoting examples from China, Japan, Ukraine, Russia, and Norway – countries where official languages are the sole medium of instruction in all the technical and non-technical courses.
  • Education in mother tongue is effective: If they can do so, why can’t we, they argue, especially as it is an established fact that imparting education in a student’s mother tongue is effective for learning.

Why English is best medium of English education?

  • Teaching in local plus English language: Fifty-two medical colleges, out of the total 170 colleges on mainland China, whose graduates can attempt the USMLE (the entrance exam to practice in the US), teach in both Chinese and English. There has been a steep rise in the number of parents interested in enrolling their children – at just three years old – in ESL (English as a Second Language) courses.
  • Less resources in Hindi: It is unwise to compare the status of Hindi to Chinese or German, given India’s diversity. Moreover, Hindi, or any other vernacular language, for that matter, offers far fewer resources to support the job-seeking young populace. Learning English, therefore, comes with a promise of roti, kapda, makaan (food, clothes, shelter.)
  • Higher demand for English Medium: A few years ago, when newspapers reported on the closing down of government schools in Tamil Nadu, one of the major reasons cited was parents’ preoccupation with English-medium schools – leading them to deny free cash and food and admit their kids to low-end, mediocre English schools, instead.
  • English is a great leveller: When it comes to higher education, English is a great leveller, allowing dialogue to continue with the rest of the world. Medicine, as evidence-based as it is, is constantly evolving with the introduction of novel research. Treating cases sometimes requires consulting multiple books, research papers, and journal articles, for which a sound system of translation needs to be established before we can even begin thinking about phasing out English.
  • Issue of Translation: The people involved in the translation process spoke of two things, First, instead of “translation”, the books have been transliterated. The medical terminology remains the same; sentences have only been translated for easier reading. That too, in the most mainstream dialect of Hindi. Second, these books are to be used as “bridge books”, and not as replacements for the English ones, designed to address the initial hiccups students are bound to face.
  • No clarity on roadmap: The initial announcement also fails to account for the necessary infrastructure. There has been no clarity on whether or how these translations will be incorporated as reading materials, and how they will evolve or change with time. Whether standard books like Harrison and Robbins would also be translated is anyone’s guess. Translating these tomes only once would not suffice as newer editions every three to five years incorporate significant changes.
  • Training of teachers and conferences: Professors and other teaching staff would also need to be trained. Most of all, what about medical conferences, the staple of a medical student? Would they be organised in Hindi moving forward?
  • Our medical industry is yet to develop: While basing our argument only on language, we often forget that Chinese healthcare is self-sufficient when it comes to research and protocols, or that Germany has primary resources available in their own language. Our focus right now should be to develop primary resources. Our medical industry is at way too nascent a stage to be speaking of language.

Conclusion

  • Offering extra evening classes as done by AIIMS, Delhi could have been a better substitute given that the strength of students who struggle with English makes up about one to two per cent of the entire batch. Besides, no strict distinction exists between Hindi and non-Hindi-speaking states as most institutions have a portion of seats that are filled up by a pan-India entrance exam. Our focus should be on quality of education instead of medium of instruction.

Mains Question

Q. Medical education in English is more viable than local language. Explain. Why Government of India Supports the Medical education in Hindi?

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments