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Interview with Dr. Narottam Puri

- The Editorial Board
from Spandan 1999

Dr. Narottam Puri, a Maulanian of the 1964 batch besides being an eminent ENT specialist is also a famous sports analyst and TV personality. He is an active member of MAMCOS and has taken a keen interest in promoting socio-cultural activities in the college and in unearthing the talent of young medicos especially in the field of music and sports. The following is an excerpt from his interview.

US : Sir, To what extent has MAMC contributed in the shaping of your career?

Dr. N.P. : Totally, I entered its portals when I had barely started shaving and I came out as a man, a doctor. My stature in society is all due to my alma mater - MAMC.

US : Sir, since when did your start taking interest in extra-curricular activities?

Dr. N.P.: From 3rd year onwards, and in my 4th and final years, I participated in sports, dramatics and music.

US : What do you feel is the relevance of extra curricular activities in the life of a doctor?

Dr. N.P.: I believe that `doctor' is not the operative word out here. Extra-curricular activities are very important in the making of any human being.

US : Do you think that MAMC provided you with ample opportunity to take part in extracurricular activities?

Dr. N.P.: Yes in fact I was the only one from MAMC to have been in the University cricket team. Sports has been an important part of my life -both individual and team sport. Apart from cricket, I played tennis and table-tennis in 3rd, 4th and final year. I took part in music competitions and acted in numerous plays.

US : In what ways has MAMC changed over the years?

Dr. N.P. Well definitely there's been helluva lot of change in MAMC. I think it has been for two reasons- (A) Because the honoraries went away. Earlier, apart from the regular full-time teachers, we used to have top specialists of each field as honorary teachers. As a result the level of teaching was very high. (B) Over the years, the level of teaching has gone down because the commitment from the teachers is not there. There has also been a quantum change in the type of teaching the students expect. I do not really know where to put the blame, but I feel that the students are missing out a great deal.

US : What is the difference between the student- teacher relationship then and now?

Dr. N.P.: The teacher-student relationship then was superbly wonderful. In 1st year after ragging was over, a Staff vs. Student cricket match was played which was attended by almost everyone -the faculty, students, nurses, class III and IV employees. There were less people and so everybody knew each other.

US : Do you think that the lives of medicos have become more stressful?

Dr. N.P. Yes, students today are more stressed. They are getting far too competitive with one another. We used to support each other a lot more. Friendships are no longer as strong as they used to be. In fact next week our batch will be having its 28th annual picnic. Even after 35 years, we all are still together. Values seem to have changed. I feel present batches are- I won't call them selfish, but more self centered.

US : Sir, do you feel there has been a sociocultural deterioration in MAMC?

Dr. N.P. Yes, earlier there used to be inter-college and intermedical matches. Sports day was an annual feature. These days, there are no matches, no sports day, nobody to play, and nobody to watch. The whole ethos has undergone a major change. In the name of cultural activities people just want to dance! But this I believe is not a feature of medical colleges alone but of the entire society. After all, you are not a separate entity but a product of your times.

US : Sir, How did you become a commentator?

Dr. N.P. It just happened. My father used to be a cricket commentator and after his death, I stepped into his shoes. And at that stage of my medical career, it was an opportunity to stay in touch with a sport I love.

US : Sir, How did you handle both careers?

Dr. N.P. It was not easy. I had to compartmentalize my life, and of course sadly my family was affected. But then that is my hobby and medicine is my profession. However, after 29 years I am no longer interested, and also my health does not permit me - so I have given it up.

US : How do you think things can be improved?

Dr. N.P. There is a chasm between the students and teachers. Just as there are good students there are good teachers. Similarly, both bad students and bad teachers are there. The problem lies in the absence of meeting grounds where everyone can get together. Herein lies the importance of sports, and cultural activities which provide an informal meeting ground. Both students and teachers need to come together to strive for their mutual benefit, and for the common benefit of the institution.

US : What message do you have for the students?

Dr. N.P. Today's students are intelligent, focussed and know where they are heading. So I can't really give advice. Still, I suggest that, like a man belongs to his family, the family to the society, and the society to the country, the students have to belong to their batch, which in turn has to belong to the institution. Nothing will change until you feel some attachment to your college. Every one should get together to usher in change in the college. The key elements in this endeavor are the students, for it is them who can take the initiative. I wish the college the very best for the future and hope that it becomes not only the best in the country, but also in the world.

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