The confluence of science and humanities: Medical Humanities in Delhi

Dr Satendra Singh, Assistant Professor of Physiology at the University College of Medical Sciences at the University of Delhi, reports on the activities of India’s first medical humanities group:

University College of Medical Sciences (UCMS), Delhi is the first Indian medical school to introduce medical humanities to its staff and students. Our activities have been directed towards sharing literature, drama, and the arts in the Indian languages and culture amongst health care providers including doctors, medical students, paramedical staff, nurses and technicians. The group was conceived in 2008 and started on April 1, 2009.This post profiles some of our activities over the past few years.

Early on, an environmental subgroup, Gang-green, led by Dr Divyang Sharma, then a student at UCMS, was formed.

Confluence, a platform to disseminate appreciation of arts and humanities within the medical community, is a series of lectures by eminent guests. Dr. R L Bijlani, Professor of Physiology, with interests in indigenous systems and lifestyles, delivered the inaugural lecture The Doctor is in. An art exhibition by Dr. Apurba Rajbongshi, Senior Resident of Pathology, freelance photographer, naturalist and artist was held simultaneously.

Dr Apurba at the Inaugral Confluence

Disease is somatic; the suffering from it, psychic. (Martin H. Fischer)
What about faith? Faith at the end of the day is a funny thing.
Faith isn’t faith until it’s all you’re holding on to.

Faith under the Scapelwas the subject of a talk by the founder-president of “Rationalist International”, Mr. Sanal Edamaruku. The phenomena of godmen and their growing influence on sections of the population in India and around the world were discussed. As an offset, Dr. Shridhar Dwivedi, Prof. of Medicine at UCMS recited his poem “Braving Multiple Maladies with Boldness and Peace –Whose Grace Is This?”

UCMS students performing street play

In March, Confluence staged a play titled AIDS (Academic-Induced Degenerative Syndrome) written and performed by our medical students.  This event provided them a platform to show-case their award-winning talents at their alma-mater. In April, Dr CJ Daswani, Professor of English talked of “Communication with the grassroots” sharing personal narratives illustrating the influence of communication in the treatment outcomes for the patient. After the summer vacations, coinciding with ‘Hindi divas” Confluence celebrated “A day for Tibet” – with a talk by eminent journalist Mr. Vijay Kranti on Tibetan affairs, a documentary and an art exhibition on Tibet.

Shovana Narain

SPIC MACAY (Society for Promotion of Indian Classical Music and Culture Amongst Youth) focuses on the classical arts, with their legends, rituals, mythology and philosophy. In November 2010, SPIC-MACAY organised a lecture-demonstration on Kathak dance by renowned maestro Shovana Narayan show-casing the combination of art and humanism in dance. The lecture-demonstration provided the stage for an informal interaction between the students and artist. For many in the audience it was the first opportunity to understanding the artist as a practitioner of a certain way of life. SPIC MACAY, also screened Charlie Chaplin’s first talking film, The great Dictatorand Satyajit Ray’s awarding winning classic “Pather Panchali  known to be the “Best Human Document” at UCMS.

This year the Medical Humanities Group has formed a special interest group Infinite Ability. Started by Dr Satendra Singh, the interest group is a platform to explore disability through creativity. Additionally, we are also planning to organise experiential communication skills workshop on “Theatre of the Oppressed”.

To find out more about the Medical Humanities Group at UCMS, please contact Dr Satendra Singh.

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About Centre for Medical Humanities

Centre for Medical Humanities
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3 Responses to The confluence of science and humanities: Medical Humanities in Delhi

  1. how can we join our college

  2. Our ‘Educational Case Study’ on street theatre A.I.D.S (Academic Induced Degeneration Syndrome, picture above in the blog) is published in the current June issue of BMJ’s Medical Humanities journal.
    Gupta S, Singh S. Confluence: Understanding Medical Humanities through Street Theatre. Med Humanities.

    http://mh.bmj.com/content/early/2011/07/21/jmh.2010.006973.short?q=w_mh_ahead_tab

  3. Pingback: Breaking Patterns, Creating Change – Report on the first ‘Theater of the Oppressed’ Workshop held for Medical Students in India | Centre for Medical Humanities Blog

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