Shed a tear for the good doctor

Bumped into Balu this morning on the train to Bangalore for my weekly lecture at the Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media (

Balu is actually Dr. (Flt. Lt.) M.A. Balasubramanya. He was my senior in Nirmala School, but his brother M.A. Kumar (who just spent his last day at CFTRI today and will join Infosys soon) and I were together.

Balu and some of his doctor-friends run the Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement ( that has given medicine a good name.

Anyway, that's not the story. The story is about who killed good doctors. As usual, I was openly gloating about how (most) doctors now have even less cred than journalists and lawyers, and Balu narrated a little incident.

He said a bunch of some 56 young doctors had gathered recently, and as naturally as night follows day, the talk eventually veered around to who or what had fetched their  brethren (and sistern) their current notoriety as rapacious money-minded bandicoots.

(Balu says 40 per cent of debts in India today are due to medical expenses.)

The assembled docs agreed that good doctors even in the past were well-off if not wealthy, but they all pined for the reputation and recognition that their earlier compatriots enjoyed despite the size of their wallets.

At which point, says Balu, the young doctors themselves kind of began to agree on what had gone wrong.

The previous generation of doctors had sought done their best at their jobs. That had fetched them a reputation. That reputation had fetched them recognition. And that recognition had fetched them renumeration.

Today's doctors, not all but most, had reversed the sequence. Which is why, things have come to such a pass.