In Punjab, doctors have to take anti-bribery oath

This is the latest psychological weapon unleashed by Punjab Health Minister Lakshmi Kanta Chawla in order to discipline her officials and to rid the department of corruption.
Doctors who are appointed at senior positions in the department are summoned by the minister to state headquarters. Here, they are asked to take oath in front of the minister that they would shun bribes.

The oath goes on like this- “Madam, I swear in the name of God that I will not accept any bribes and I shall work steadfastly for the welfare of the people.”

Recently, the minister had summoned the newly appointed civil surgeons of seven districts of Punjab to Chandigarh. She told them she was entrusting important assignments to them, sources said. “The minister then asked the seven officials to take oath for not accepting any bribe and hoped they would not breach her trust,” a source said.

The source said the minister had earlier administered similar oaths to newly appointed food inspectors and drug inspectors also. A doctor serving at a government hospital in Punjab said there was no guarantee that the officials would act in accordance with the oath. “But, at least, it can have a psychological impact on them and may prick their conscience if they violated it,” he said.  He also felt that the customary Hippocratic oath that is administered to doctors at the time of joining the service had just become a paper formality. “By making the doctors to verbally commit to uphold ethics of the profession, the minister may succeed in covertly shaming some of them if they resorted to unethical means,”he added.
What may give further ‘teeth’ to the minister's latest missive is the fact that she is renowned for her no nonsense approach and is viewed with awe among the medical fraternity serving under her.

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