The 42nd convocation of AIIMS was a memorable occasion as for the first time the premier institute initiated the tradition of presenting lifetime achievement awards to medical professionals associated with it.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who gave away the lifetime achievement awards to former senior faculty members of AIIMS who have contributed immensely to the development of the institution and also to medical science in the country, advised the passing out graduates to keep the student in themselves alive.
“Keep the student in you alive. These people whom I have honoured with the lifetime achievement awards, they belong to the age group of 70-80 years. But if you meet them, you will find that they are very much aware of the latest developments of medical science, not because they need patients but because the student in them is still alive,” said Modi.
Reminding the award winners of their days at the institute, Modi said, “You had so many people to turn to here in your institute to solve your problems and satisfy your curiosity. There was always someone who would protect you and take responsibility for what you do and you were aware of that. But today from a four walled closed classroom you will be entering a huge classroom.
“The moment, people especially those belonging to the medical profession fraternity feel that their learning period is over, I fell they stagnate and get stuck in all kind of obstacles. The student mindset keeps the life alive and the moment we stop to learn, we should realise that we have taken a step towards death,” he said.
Modi further said that when he had come to the function, a gentleman said that people are astounded by his energy.
“I say there is nothing to feel surprised about. People from medical science fraternity are present here and they know that the urge to learn something new and do something new every time fills us with energy and zeal,” he said.
Six persons who were honoured with the lifetime achievement award include Prof GP Talwar, Founder Director of National Institute of Immunology (NII), Dr J S Guleria, former Dean of faculty and former head of department for general medicine at AIIMS, Professor P N Tandon, Founder President of the National Brain Research Centre (NBRC) and also former President of Indian National Science Academy. Tandon had founded the Neurosurgery department of AIIMS.
The lifetime achievement awards were also given to Dr Sneh Bhargava, eminent radiologist and former director of AIIMS, Dr I K Dhawan, Former Head department of Surgical disciplines who initiated the renal transplant programme in India and P Venugopal, founder chief of Cardio-thoracic centre and former Director AIIMS.
He also did the first heart transplant in India and is known as the doyen of cardiac care in India.
Venugopal said, “It feels great. I had joined this institute as an undergraduate in 1959. We have lived for the institute and getting a recognition and honour at our own institute is the biggest achievement.
As for Talwar, it was a very emotional moment. “I spent 27 years here in AIIMS. This honour has put new chains of binding and I feel my love for the institute renewed,” he told PTI.
Tandon found the initiative very endearing and encouraging as he said, “It is a sort of symbol for the younger generation to see what the people associated with it have contributed to the Medical Science of our country.
“As our Prime Minister said we owe gratitude to this country and its people who have invested on us,” he said.