Meet Dr Harbhajan Singh Rissam, a senior interventional cardiologist and director of Cardiac Clinical Sciences, Max Heart Institute, who says, “Gone are the days, when people treated doctors as God. Now they call us the other way round (dog).” His book “The Scalpel - Game Beneath”, first of the triology, is a medical thriller and the plot of the story focuses on medicine mafia, organ trade and many other illegal practices.
The book takes the reader on a roller coaster ride across countries and continents and makes an attempt to trace a criminal-terrorist-medical-mafia nexus. When a doctor writes a novel about the medical community cavorting with the mafia, would it be a work of fiction or is it an attempt to showcase reality without the risk of a backlash. “The book is a work of fiction and some of the incidents mentioned have been from my own experiences. I was wondering how my fellow doctors would react to this.
I was worried about their reaction to the doctor-criminal-mafia-terror links, written in the book. But, now I’m glad that I have got a tremendous response to my book.” He then goes on, “It’s like how Anna Hazre chose to speak against corruption, I think I am like the representative of a lot of doctors who have been labelled, because of a minority group, who indulge in illegal practices.”
The title of the book, “Scalpel” is basically a surgical knife. Linking it to his story, one way of looking at it according to Rissam is like cutting through reality. The cardiologist is a Padma Shree recipient and a member of Board of Governors for Medical Council of India (MCI) and is in the city to attend a conference.
Drawing contrast to the real world, he explains, “Corruption is everywhere. It starts from the ground-root level and increases step-wise. It’s like the bigger the hospital, bigger the corruption. And corruption at the basic level starts off with doctors writing fake drugs and unnecessary surgeries.”
Rissam adds that his book is like a wake-up call, not just for doctors, but also for people to be more alert and not fall prey to such incidents. “I’m trying to sow a thought in people’s mind, telling them to be more alert and question the doctor about everything that is prescribed. Through my book, I wanted the readers to wonder whether the book is fiction or a factual piece of work.”
His daughter is pursuing her medicine and the doctor confesses, “Our younger generation is disappointed with us. When we started working, we had everything on our platter. Bu, wow, we are sort off disrupting things for them. I hope my book will try and bring at least some change.”
Being a doctor, he said writing did happen naturally to him. And he chose fiction for obvious reasons, one being to make it more interesting and emgaging. “I was always a reader. I believe that all writers are voracious readers and all voracious readers can’t be writers.
This book was my attempt in trying to send across a message in a way, which is more effective. And nothing better than fiction could do it. Bring in characters, which people can relate to and, I guess your work is done.”