I am planning to pass the hat around in the family. With two sons standing on the threshold of entry to a professional college, it has become necessary to seek financial aid from one’s kith and kin. “Why don’t we start our own medical college?” suggested my 17-year-old, who has set his heart on becoming a doctor. I was aghast.
“Where do you think we’ll get the money from “? I asked. “Come, come mummy. What about your jewellery? Why don’t you sell all that and your silver stuff?” he said getting into the mood of it all. I gave him a withering look and hurried into my kitchen. But the stubborn doctor-to-be would not stop at that. “Mum”, he persisted, “I have been thinking seriously about his. Why don’t you write to all you uncles and aunts and the host of other relatives you keep visiting? You can ask for a contribution and guarantee a seat for their children, too. Indu aunty’s daughter is supposed to be a great dancer; why not have a recital to raise funds for the college building?” By now, my interest had been kindled and I had visions of becoming the dean of our very own medical college. Still, one has to be practical. “What about the labs and other things that a medical college needs? What about a hospital to train doctors?
“You can add on all that gradually. In the first year, all you need is classroom space, a blackboard and some basic lab equipment. You don’t need to invest in furniture, the students can squat. As they keep moving up to the higher classes, you can add what you want. If you are wondering where the money will come from, sell the seats. You can pass the word in family circles that ‘dollar seats’ are available for non-resident Indians. You will attract foreign exchange and quality students from abroad. Take the fees in advance, put the money in fixed deposits and, with the interest, buy what the college needs. By the time the first batch of doctors passes out, you will have enough money to build a hospital, and they can be made to sign a bond to serve in it till the next batch comes out. What do you say?”
Thoroughly sold on the ideas, I had to still my conscience before accepting it. “What kind of doctor’s will these fellows who buy seats make”? I asked. “Gosh, you are old-fashioned!” the youngster scoffed. “Who’s talking of making doctors? Don’t universities bestow honorary degrees on people who have never stepped into the portals of a college? At least these students would have paid for the letters of the alphabet behind their names. Anyway, someone in a medical college for five years will know something at the end of it all, and he can then set up his own clinic and employ one of the numerous unemployed doctors passing out the government medical colleges”.
I think it’s very good proposition. For once, I’m glad I belong to a large family. I will discuss this with my peers who will welcome this money-spinning project. The future of their children is assured, too. And the elders in the family will love to be on the managing committee.
(This is how many medical colleges have sprung up!)