Inauguration of the Centenary Year of Medical Education
May 4, 2018 was indeed a historic day for Christian Medical College, Vellore. The Institution was honoured to have Shri Ram Nath Kovind, the Hon’ble President of India inaugurate the Centenary Year of Medical Education. Adding to the historicity of the occasion were the presence of Shrimati Savita Kovind, the First Lady, Shri Banwarilal Purohit, the Hon’ble Governor of Tamil Nadu, Thiru KC Veeramani, Hon’ble Minister for Commercial Taxes, Government of Tamil Nadu (Minister-in-Waiting) and Prof. PJ Kurian, the Hon’ble Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.
It was only fitting that the venue for this important function was the Scudder Auditorium, dedicated in 1966 to the memory of our beloved founder. The significance of the occasion was profound: a hundred years since Ida Scudder bravely and boldly started the medical school with 16 young women; a hundred years over which the circle grew wider still to encompass the many faculty and students who shared her vision. Truly, it was a day to pay homage to the many faculty, alumni and students whose life and work echo and reflect our motto, ‘Not to be ministered unto, but to minister’.
The dignitaries were received in the portico of Scudder Auditorium by the Council Chairman, Bishop DK Sahu, the Director, Dr. JV Peter and the Principal, Dr. Anna B. Pulimood. Compered by Dr. Solomon Sathishkumar, Vice Principal (UG), the programme began with the National Anthem rendered beautifully by the College Choir. Bishop Sahu led the gathering in prayer, meaningfully incorporating the words of Tagore’s inspiring poem, ‘Where the mind is without fear…’
This was followed by Dr. JV Peter welcoming and introducing the dignitaries. Mementos were presented to them by Dr. Anna Pulimood and Bishop Sahu. Dr. Anna Pulimood then gave the Centenary Year Report, giving thanks to God for His countless blessings over the past one hundred years. She highlighted three ways in which the faculty and students of CMC have contributed to society. Firstly, over 3,800 doctors and 2,700 postgraduates and super specialists trained in CMC have rendered thousands of years of rural health care in the poorest and least accessible parts of the country where few dare to venture. Secondly, faculty and alumni have provided world- class health care not only in CMC, Vellore, but also in mofussil towns across India. Health care as practiced and taught in CMC combines scientific, rational, evidence-based medicine, with appropriate technology, the most advanced when needed, but also a compassionate, ethical, personalised and holistic approach to every person who needs care. Thirdly, CMC has made an impact on the quality of health care in India and globally, through patient oriented research. Dr. Anna stressed that CMC is not content with its rich heritage, but that there is a constant striving to seek better ways to serve, to care and to teach. The process of medical and allied health curriculum renewal is one example of this. She concluded her report with the thought-provoking words of Oscar Romero, the Archbishop of San Salvador: ‘We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work. We plant the seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise: an opportunity for God’s grace to enter and do the rest.’
Dr. Solomon Sathishkumar then introduced the concept of the Centenary Simulation and Skills Learning Centre, where students will learn procedural skills and acute patient management on mannequins in a simulated safe setting, allowing them to practice and enhance their skills.
During the Inaugural Function, a book specially designed to capture the history and heritage of CMC was released. Titled ‘Healing for the Nations’, the book was presented by the former Director, Dr. Sunil Chandy, to Shri Banwarilal Purohit, the Hon’ble Governor of Tamil Nadu, who released it and handed over the first copy to Shri Ram Nath Kovind, the Hon’ble President of India.
Prof. PJ Kurian, the Hon’ble Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, then addressed the gathering. In his inimitable style he espoused the cause, the contributions and the unique character of CMC Vellore. Calling CMC a model institution, he said, “The Institution deserves government support, encouragement and strengthening.” In his remarks on the occasion, Shri Banwarilal Purohit, the Hon’ble Governor highlighted the exceptional health statistics of the state of Tamil Nadu, in which, he said, CMC Vellore has played a major role. He congratulated the Institution on its achievements of the past hundred years and wished it the very best for the next hundred years.
In his Presidential Address, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, the Hon’ble President of India paid tribute to Dr. Ida Scudder who, he said, found her mission in medicine in India. The country in the early 1900s was a very different place, with shocking health indices. “The country has come a long way since then, and revolutions in our economy, agriculture and in technology have changed the way we act, think and live. Inevitably, health outcomes have improved- small pox and polio have been defeated, our immunisation programme is gaining strength. The Government has launched Mission Indradhanush primarily to target hard-to-access areas and ensure all children benefit from immunisation.” The Hon’ble President referred to the three health challenges that India currently faces- reduction in infant and maternal mortality as well as communicable diseases; the rise in non-communicable or lifestyle diseases; and the need to develop systems to detect and cope with new and emerging infectious diseases. “This three- pronged challenge calls for interventions across the continuum of care. Meeting this challenge needs a multi-stakeholder approach.” The Hon’ble President lauded CMC’s contribution to society, particularly though research that remains relevant to the needs of the country. He also commended the medical education programme of CMC that combines professional expertise with social relevance and ethical practice. The Hon’ble President particularly mentioned the placements in villages and under-served areas that complements the clinical training of medical professionals in CMC Vellore. The challenge was to continue to train with a sense of service and dedication- “doctors and nurses with warm hearts.”
At the end of the function, Dr. Solomon Sathishkumar proposed the vote of thanks, expressing gratitude to God for the wisdom of his leading and thanking the dignitaries for gracing the occasion with their esteemed presence. The function concluded with the National Anthem.
The Principal’s Office would like to thank the community for their prayers and support for this occasion. There were many requirements brought about by the demands of protocol and strict security, to which the community responded in a heart-warming manner. Prior to the formal function, Rev. Dr. Arul Dhas led the gathering in prayer and the College Song was sung with much enthusiasm and fervor. Later, Dr. Sharon Poornima and the choir beautifully rendered the Centenary Song, ‘Home of Transformation’, the chorus of which goes as follows:
Seeking to be a witness for Christ,
Nurturing young lives for the past hundred years,
Making a difference to our nation and more
Bringing healing and wholeness to the unreached and poor,
To all who would enter, you’re a home- a home of transformation’
Let this be our prayer as we enter a new century in the service of humanity and our nation.