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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 10  |  Page : 3456  

Lord Mountbatten's last supper to public health's last rites – The trajectory of medicine

General Practitioner, Raiganj, North Dinajpur, West Bengal, India

Date of Submission07-Sep-2019
Date of Decision10-Sep-2019
Date of Acceptance16-Sep-2019
Date of Web Publication31-Oct-2019

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Jayanta Bhattacharya
General Practitioner, Raiganj, North Dinajpur, West Bengal - 733 134
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jfmpc.jfmpc_744_19

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How to cite this article:
Bhattacharya J. Lord Mountbatten's last supper to public health's last rites – The trajectory of medicine. J Family Med Prim Care 2019;8:3456

How to cite this URL:
Bhattacharya J. Lord Mountbatten's last supper to public health's last rites – The trajectory of medicine. J Family Med Prim Care [serial online] 2019 [cited 2021 May 14];8:3456. Available from: https://www.jfmpc.com/text.asp?2019/8/10/3456/270026


In his unusual, touching and intriguing editorial Raman Kumar has drawn our due attention to the “permanent scar and hatred that would not heal even after a century” and has stressed that “[i] t is time to act, develop synergistic partnerships and move forward toward everlasting peace, happiness, and welfare for the people of this region.”[1] I believe he has rightly said that human cost and depravation of dignity is more tragic than the Holocaust, but never taught in world history. My contention is not partition or human tragedy perse. I want to focus on medicine and health sustaining the impact of partition.

Before partition public health system in India was aghast and subsequent disruption by partition further contributed to the near breakdown of health services. The Bhore Committee presented a “Beveridge-style blueprint that no colonial government of India would ever have put into practice.”[2] As a result, Western medicine was never so powerful in India when it shed its colonial identity. The Bhore Committee had a very good panel of international experts including Weldon Darlymple--Champneys, Henry Sigerist (the doyen of history of medicine), John Ryle, Janet Vaughan, John Cumpston, and others. Cumpston suggested a 1-year premedical, 2-year paraclinical, and two-and-a-half-years of clinical training, which lasted for more than 50 years.[3] In a report published in Lancet on August 23, 1947, after partition the three countries (England, India, and Pakistan) would enjoy friendship and “[t] o this friendship, which is needed on both sides, medicine could contribute much.”[4] Thus, the role of medicine was carefully written on the blood lines of partition, carnage, and extreme hatred. In that report it was also rightly regretted that the Bhore Committee's recommendations “are likely to fall into the background.” What were the actual recommendations of the Committee we are referring to? Briefly, its recommendations were – 1. Integration of preventive and curative services of all administrative levels. 2. Development of Primary Health Centers in two stages (a short-term measure and a long-term program (also called the 3 million plan) of setting up primary health units with 75 bedded hospitals for each 10,000 to 20,000 population and secondary units.)

In public speeches, Darlymple--Champneys spoke of National Health Service (NHS)-like healthcare as providing a sense of “national” purpose and pointed out that the provisioning of adequate healthcare, accessible to all citizens, may well be the ingredient that will “leaven the bread” (make India rise).[5] On reviewing Indian medical education in 1946, Sigerist warned us, “health education was wasted unless it is somehow combined with education in citizenship, which is impossible without history.”

We are at crossroads.

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Conflict of interest

There is no conflict of interest.

  References Top

Kumar R. Lord Mountbatten's the last supper: How British empire botched up the future of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. J Family Med Prim Care 2019;8:2555-7.  Back to cited text no. 1
  [Full text]  
Arnold D. The rise of western medicine in India. Lancet 1996;348:1075-8.  Back to cited text no. 2
Murthy P, Sarin A, Jain S. International advisers to the Bhore Committee: Perceptions and visions for healthcare. Econ Polit Wkly 2013;10:71-7.  Back to cited text no. 3
Anonymous. Opportunity in India. Lancet 1947;6459:286.  Back to cited text no. 4
Jain S, Sarin A, editors. The Psychological Impact of Partition of India. Sage, New Delhi; 2018. p. 37.  Back to cited text no. 5


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