Divyanshoo Kohli, 2003 batch
Connections:September 2012 (Eds: Divyanshoo’s essay was originally published in the 2012 issue of the GMCH magazine Glimpse)
As the Independence Day of India rolled by, I read an interesting series of article on the state of the country that looked back at the past 65 years of the country. It was an instructive reading, at times critical, at times sentimental and occasionally comical. It is in a similar vein that I pen down these thought regarding the state of GMCH over the past 22 years.We began way back in September 1991 in a rented building that was still under construction. Much like the students who reach the class 10 minutes too late and asks around softly for ‘an extra pen’ and prays for the good humor of the attending, we too were on a borrowed existence teetering on the precipice of failing. The stools that the students sat on were marked for Government College for Men-11, the building was for mentally challenged children (poetic!), the specimens were from PGIMER! The hostel of GMCH students was in the engineering college in sector 12. Even the director was on a loan from PGI and the patients were seen at the poly clinic in sector 22! The faculty had been hurriedly assembled from any place feasible. Like a newly born, we were dependent for everything on everyone.
Like the famed Indian approach to things we began with nothing, survived with sheer luck and blossomed through sheer perseveration despite the powers that were. Getting a letter of recognition for the medical college had all the ingredients of steep uphill battle that remind me of the ‘83 victory of Kapil Dev or VVS Laxman’s terrific score against Australia. Some of the old timers recall going on hunger strikes and shuttling between Chandigarh and New Delhi in a desperate attempt fighting an obdurate and insensitive bureaucracy that was beholden to the letter but blind to the spirit of the law. We owe it to the members of the initial batch who fought for their own and our good.
As the decade rolled by, things began to gather pace (or thereabouts!). After a series of false starts, the building of the hospital was inaugurated. The Prayaas building, our rented home in sector 38, got completed. The current students would not be able to appreciate the open hallways and the dreadful anatomy halls complete with a feeling of freedom that characterized that place. We ended up moving from sector 38 to sector 32 a few years back. Earlier, the first and second year students often commuted from 38 to 32 for college functions. Some of those innocuous trips have actually ended up in wedlock! The hostels for boys and girls were constructed; the emergency started functioning as did the ICUs. I was still around when the C-block was inaugurated and we would often lose our way in that labyrinth. Soon, the D-block came into being as well.
Through these years the college, the hospital, its faculty and students grew in numbers, strength and stature. We held convocations, organized national and international conferences one of which was graced by the former president Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam.
The strength of our college and hospital has been to a huge extent the faculty that has guided us from strength to strength as we scaled from peak to peak. A lot of the original faculty members stayed with GMCH – Drs. Atul Sachdev, Jagdish Chander, Ram Singh, SMS Lehl, AK Attri, Harsh Mohan, Kanchan Kapoor, Rajeev Sharma, Suman Kochhar among others. However, some incredibly talented people left early as well: Drs. Krishan Vij, KK Gombar, AS Bawa, Robby George among others. While the reasons they left were myriad, their loss was monumental and absence felt acutely. Any hospital is the sum of the talent of its physicians and talent retention is incumbent on the administration.
The brand ambassadors of the college are always going to be its students. In this context, the college is well-endowed. Consistently, the students entering the MBBS course have been the top-rankers and
crème-da-le-crème of the tri-state area. We have also consistently shone brightly in the national PG entrance exams of PGIMER, CBSE and AIIMS. I vividly remember the time 2 years ago when my mother had to undergo a hysterectomy at PGI. To my intense surprise and undisguised relief, every single resident in that particular Gynecology unit was from GMCH (including 2 from my batch itself)! If demographics are anything to go by, the residency class of OBGYN there is dominated by the girls of GMCH. Interestingly, some of the students have gone in a full circle and have joined the hospital as faculty – a truly joyous feeling of accomplishment!
The success story of the students in the US is self-perpetuating. We have excelled in the USMLEs and are starting to create a name. As an example, during my interviews in the USA that were spread all along the east and Midwest, I had to pay for accommodation only once! Everywhere else, there was someone from GMCH who opened the doors for me and let me stay overnight. I have no relatives in the US but still feel that help is only a phone call away. For a lot of my friends, the experience has been the same.
A matter of pride for all of us has been the newspaper stories of our students excelling in the civil services exams. Our students have gone into services as diverse as the Indian army medical corps, the IAS and even the corporate world. There have been some blemishes on this count as well. The recent spate of suicides among the younger lot has been a matter of intense shame and introspection. All our glory and accomplishments fade away when one of our own goes down so tragically.
All in all the students and faculty have worked hard to reach where we are. It is easy to bask in the glory of the bygone days and let the nostalgia sweep us under its dizzying influence. It would however be futile to pat ourselves on the back and enter into a state of inertia. Much like our nation, we have worked a lot to awaken, break the shackles and cobwebs, and gather pace as we race ahead. The time though, is to fly.