BHOPAL: MBBS students in Madhya Pradesh will be lectured about RSS founder KB Hedgewar, Bhartiya Jana Sangh leader Deendayal Upadhyaya, Swami Vivekanand and B R Ambedkar as part of the first-year foundation course, state Education Minister Vishwas Sarang said on Sunday and added the move is aimed at instilling social and medical ethics among the students.
The move evoked a sharp reaction from the opposition Congress which accused the BJP of trying to "thrust" its agenda on the people.
The BJP, however, justified the move, saying all the sections of society should know about the patriots who are the "ideals for the nation".
Hedgewar and Upadhyaya are hailed in high esteem, apart from other Hindutva leaders, by the Sangh, believed to be the ideological mentor of the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP).
The minister said the first year MBBS students will also learn about Maharshi Charaka, one of the principal contributors to the Ayurveda, and sage Sushrut, known as the father of surgery in India.
"The students of the first-year course of MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery) will be lectured about Hedgewarji, Upadhyayji, Swami Vivekanandji, Ambedkarji and other great personalities. Lessons on these great personalities will inculcate values, principles, social and medical ethics in the students," Sarang told PTI.
The next academic session for MBBS students is likely to start by this year-end.
"The National Medical Council (NMC) has said that ethical values should be the part of the foundation course in the first year (of MBBS). So we thought of incorporating these great personalities for building the character of students," he said.
The minister said states finalise the content of the foundation course.
Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, a surgeon, founded the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh in Nagpur in 1925, based on the ideology of Hindutva.
Deendayal Upadhyaya was one of the prominent leaders of the Bhartiya Jana Sangh, the forerunner of the BJP.
"RSS first chief Hedgewarji, Upadhyayaji, Vivekanandji and BR Ambedkarji were great visionaries and human beings. Their lives were based on values. Their thoughts, conduct, and the very personalities are inspiring", the minister said.
He said Hedgewar had actively participated in India's freedom struggle.
"Deendayalji's thought of 'Antyodaya' for helping the last man (the poorest of the poor) was exemplary. Swami Vivekanandji travelled far off lands to showcase the Indian vision. B R Ambedkar was born in a poor family but he went on to frame our Constitution. We have decided to teach (MBBS) students about the inspiring lives of these great personalities from the coming academic session (2021), " Sarang added.
The Congress, however, slammed the BJP.
"Since its inspection, the BJP wants to thrust its ideology and agenda on the people, be it in the field of education or in other areas. Now it is going to teach the thoughts of the founders of RSS and Jana Sangh in the MBBS course in Madhya Pradesh," state Congress chief Kamal Nath tweeted.
In another tweet, Nath wrote, "The BJP government should clarify what extraordinary work these people (Hedgewar and Upadhaya) have done since the freedom struggle for India's development. With what thoughts of theirs are the medical professionals being acclimatised?"
Hitting back, Madhya Pradesh BJP president VD Sharma told reporters that Hedgewar had "woven the country in one 'sutra' (thread)".
"I proudly say that Dr Hedgewar bound the country, formed the RSS, and gave a big thought not only to the country but to the world. Why should information about him not be disseminated?" he questioned.
Sharma said information about patriots, who are ideals for the nation, is taught in different syllabi and all should know about them.
"Doctors should also know what these great people have done for the country. It is important for them. They should also know about the country and society. I consider it necessary that all people should know the great revolutionaries because of whom we are celebrating the 75th year of Independence. I say knowledge about such great men should be compulsory," said Sharma, the BJP MP from the Khajuraho seat.
According to sources in the medical fraternity, the NMC decides the syllabus of the MBBS course.
It sets topics for each subject but the education department of States is empowered to prepare the content of the Foundation Course subject.
The lectures on Hedgewar, Upadhyaya and others are likely to be clubbed in the topic of medical ethics in the foundation course, they said.
Lectures in the foundation course are generally given to students for a month after they take admission for MBBS, the sources added.
About 2,000 students take admission in the MBBS course every year in Madhya Pradesh.