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Forbidding Books from across the Border: An Unfair and Useless Bias

Submitted by on December 14, 2013 – 8:14 PM One Comment

scalesI still remember the first time I heard that comment. It was six years ago, at the start of medical school for me. I had just bought books of anatomy, physiology and biochemistry from the College bookshop. One of my classmates told me, you can read this particular book but our teachers have forbidden us to mention it in front of the Professor or any External Examiner.

 

I thought it was just one of those idiosyncrasies that epitomize professors all over the world and that our professor might have held a grudge of some sort against the author. I got admission in another medical school after a month and I heard the same warning there. The book in question was “B.D.Chaurasia’s Human Anatomy” and the reason given for “black-listing” of the book was the Indian nationality of the author.

 

I was reminded of this fiasco recently when I myself became part of the Department of Anatomy at a medical school. My fellow teacher told the students to read the book but advised them to avoid mentioning this in front of the Professor. I was not very politically mature six years ago but now I feel disgusted at this attitude by people who should know better.

 

As a student of science and politics, I firmly believe that Knowledge has no bounds, no nationality and no ideological leanings. Dividing knowledge on the basis of nationalities will only detriment a country with poor intellectual standards, such as ours. Nationalism should be kept out of the class rooms as far as medical science is concerned.
There are two issues underlining the issue of frowning upon books written by Indian Authors;

1. Our teachers are depriving the students of cheap, well-written books from across the border and indirectly stoking anti-India sentiments in impressionable students.

2. They are not providing them with useable alternatives. Not a single Pakistani academic in the medical field has been able to write world class medical textbooks.

 

Thus, instead of competing on an even stead, and giving a free choice to students, our teachers are complicit in putting barriers in the pathway of knowledge. There is no possible rational argument in favor of informally banning textbooks from any country, in any subject. I, like other medical students, used books from Indian authors throughout my term at medical school and never faced a problem comprehending any particular subject(unlike what I was made to believe). I personally did not like B.D Chaurasia’s series very much but I preferred the textbook of Physiology from Jaypee publishers in the subject of Physiology. No single book is perfect and different students require different books to understand the same subject.

 

I want to conclude by appealing to the medical teaching fraternity and medical students that this discrimination and unhealthy bias against Indian books be ended, giving way to an even playing field. It is high time that we bury the demon of nationalism and endorse the path of rationality.

 

 

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  • DH

    This attitude
    does exist, that ‘forbids’ students from mentioning their primary book for a
    particular subject based on a teacher’s personal likes and dislikes. I, myself
    have skimmed through Chatterjee’s Biochemistry. This book and many other books
    by Indian authors are amalgations of various books, just like many books by
    Pakistani authors. They are juggernauts of clinically irrelevant information and
    lack the flow of a book. I don’t see how these books can induce a critical
    clinician.

    But I do agree with Dr Abid that a med student should be allowed to learn from any books, as
    long as it makes him or her a able doctor. A book cannot be out casted because
    it’s author is an Indian.

    I would not
    call nationality a ‘demon’. We should not reject nationalism, just as we should
    not reject internationalism.

    And kudos to
    the author for bringing up this aspect of a med student’s life.