'Pleasing Their Political Bosses': Doctors Outraged Over NMC's 'Clandestine' Logo Change

The National Medical Commission has rebranded itself first with a black-and-white image of Hindu deity Dhanvantari, the physician of the gods, at the centre of its logo, and then last week a colorised version of the god with the word 'Bharat' written above. 

New Delhi: Various medical practitioners, among them the Indian Medical Association, have expressed unhappiness over the National Medical Commission’s new logo featuring a Hindu deity.

For the longest time, the NMC had no logo other than the Ashoka emblem, which all national bodies share. Sometime in August 2023, as per the homepage records of the NMC website on the Internet Archive, a new logo was created which featured an image of Dhanvantari, the Hindu physician of the gods, at the centre. The god, in a not so easy to recognise black-and-white, appears to have passed below the radar till this week, when the logo was ‘upgraded’ to depict the god in colour. The word India, which featured in the black-and-white version, has also been replaced by Bharat. Again, going by the archived versions of the NMC home page, the change appears to have been introduced last week, i.e. on November 26, 2023.

On August 1, 2023, there is no logo on the NMC home page. The new logo with a Hindu god in black and white at the centre appears to have been added sometime in August. And the coloured version of the god appears for the first time on the NMC homepage on November 26, 2023.

The New Indian Express noted in its report that the new logo has been in use on the official website of the NMC, and “seems to have been introduced clandestinely with no official intimation being given to the media or public.”

The Indian Medical Association’s national president, Dr Sharad Kumar Agarwal called the logo change “unnecessary” and called for a renewed focus on medical education.

“They [NMC] are not a political body and should not have political aspirations or try to please their political bosses,” he said.

Dr Sulphi Noohu, the Indian Medical Association’s Kerala president has told the news agency PTI that a “secular message and way of thinking would have been more appropriate and acceptable” in the logo.

The IMA has further called for “rectifying” the logo.

Many medical students, too, expressed their reservations against the logo.

“Last year, the NMC had recommended replacing the Hippocratic Oath with another oath which is regressive and anti-women,” Times of India quoted a student of MBBS at the Calicut Medical College as having said.

Another student at the Ernakulam Medical College said that the change in logo can “only be seen as a gradual process by the Sangh Parivar to saffronise the education sector.”

The paper also quotes orthopaedic surgeon George M. Srampickal as having said that the addition of religion and politics to a noble profession like medicine can have “grave consequences in people’s lives.”

On social media, too, doctors took to expressing outrage.

Note: This article was edited on December 2, 2023 to, inter alia, add screenshots of the homepage of the NMC showing the progression from ‘no logo’ up to August 1, 2023 to a new logo featuring the Hindu god Dhanwantri, first in black-and-white and then, on November 26, 2023, in colour.