When the medical fraternity can rise above community differences, why can’t others, asks DR PUSHPA CHATURVEDI

Communal harmony is the crying need of the hour, as it keeps humanity alive. Absence of communal harmony results in negativity that leads to discord, hate, violence and regression, rather than progress.

Communal harmony, which is the responsibility of every citizen, can never be imposed through laws. It has to come from within with enlightened education. Celebrating festivals of every religion together, and greeting each other on such occasions, strengthens the bond of harmony and keeps the community united ― to be there for each other in happy and sad times.

Undoubtedly, this great responsibility also lies with country leaders, politicians, heads of religious organisations and enlightened individuals. Joint efforts should be made in all sections of society to promote unity in diversity, and to weed out bad elements, who, influenced by vested interests create disharmony and follow the pernicious policy of divide and rule. 

Dr Pushpa Chaturvedi

Peace comes by respecting and tolerating each other, thus contributing to growth and development of the individual, the community, the nation and the world at large. Communal disharmony eats into economic growth and creates strife and misery.

Education is a very important area, which can contribute a lot to the well being of the community. Unfortunately, in the present curriculum of studies, we neglect to educate our students to cultivate the qualities of tolerance, humility, cooperation, gentleness, sincerity, humanism and responsibility for one’s actions. 

Students can become a powerful resource for a country to start a war against the virus of communalism. Unfortunately, politicians with vested interests enter academic institutions, misguide and lure students to form communal groups and parties, misusing the power of the student community to spread communal disharmony in the country, instead of promoting communal oneness. 

Mahatma Gandhi was a champion of communal harmony. He firmly believed that all religions should teach people to be good and peaceful and stressed upon universal peace, brotherhood and oneness. He himself at his ashram in Sevagram, washed and treated the wounds of an untouchable caste scholar Parchure Shastri, who suffered from leprosy.

The daily community gatherings at the Sevagram ashram till date have the sarva dharma sama bhava (a concept embodying the equality of the destination of the paths followed by all religions) prayers. At the Mahatma Gandhi Institute Of Medical Sciences in Sevagram, in Wardha, Maharashtra, every Friday evening, the staff and students pray together. The sarva dharma sama bhava is one of my favourite daily prayers even now.

From my experience in the medical profession, I feel confident and happy to say that given the noble profession of doctors and the long hours spent in serving patients, we have no time and energy to waste in differentiating patients on the basis of community or religion. The one goal of all health professionals is to remain united in saving the lives of humans irrespective of who they are.

Painting by Dr Kishore Roy

Is caste and religion thicker than blood? Of course not. Blood is the same in all humans ― it has no caste or religion.

When we give blood transfusion, we only match the blood groups and are never bothered about caste or religion. The donor and recipient are also oblivious of this aspect.

Why can’t the world understand that we are born humans and our religion is love, respect and tolerance for each other. Our responsibility is to be there for each other in times of need, irrespective of caste, race or religion. The key teaching of all religions is love and compassion.

Freedom, love and compassion are never about religious conversions or giving monetary temptations to practice so-called false humanity and harmony, partitioned by beliefs of caste, race or religion.That is never the hallmark of humanity, but instead such incidents enhance communal divides and violence.

Recently, I was viewing the serial The Mumbai Diaries, based on the 26 /11 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, where the headstrong, duty-bound, sincere, ethical Dr Kaushik Oberoi, a role model for his juniors, treats the wounded terrorists when they are brought along with the already dead police officers to the hospital.

He tries to revive the police officers but fails. Knowing it’s futile to waste time on the succumbed brave police officers, he immediately gives attention to treat the alive but badly wounded terrorists. However, he is hated and reprimanded for treating the wounded terrorists and accused of not attending to the police officers, who were brought dead and could not be revived.

Doctors exemplify communal harmony

He was only honouring his professional oath by treating all alike and not differentiating his patients on the basis of caste, religion and their acts. When asked for an explanation he says, “We are doctors who have taken an oath to treat human bodies; it’s not our job to discriminate treating humans on the basis of human character, caste or religion.” 

“I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to ‘all my fellow human beings’, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.” These are lines from the modern version of the Hippocratic Oath, written in 1964 by Louis Lasagna, Dean of the School of Medicine at Tufts University. The Hippocratic oath is taken by all medical professionals. 

The phrase, All fellow human beings, encompasses all humans, irrespective of caste, race and religion. Thus, communal harmony is definitely a responsibility of those in the medical profession, as well as, of course, of all human beings. When the medical fraternity can rise above community differences, why can’t the others? 

Respecting religious freedom and breaking free of caste and racial discrimination promotes overall public health and progress of a nation. Every citizen has the right to follow a religion of their choice. Equality, acceptance, and living in peace with unity in diversity, are essential aspects of communal harmony ― and must form the core practice of every individual, every community, every nation and the whole world.

The author Dr Pushpa Chaturvedi’s favourite prayer below

Featured Image by Dr Pushpa Chaturvedi

Dr Pushpa Chaturvedi, a paediatrician with over 50 years’ experience, is an educationist and researcher, with over 100 research publications, mainly on social paediatrics in renowned medical journals. Ex-Professor and Head of Department of Paediatrics, MGIMS Sevagram, Wardha, she is a thinker, writer, poet, artist and a spiritual blogger with over 500 blogs to her credit. Dr Chaturvedi is also a keen traveller, music and nature lover.

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