‘There is no greater gift than the opportunity to work in a government hospital’

A S Thambiah


I returned from England with the MRCP in dermatology in 1951 and joined the Madras Medical Service. I was the only assistant surgeon with a postgraduate qualification in dermatology, yet I was kept as a reserve tutor for a record period of ten years and shunted from department to department because I refused to approach the authorities for a posting in dermatology. This they attributed to arrogance, but my motives were different. I was sure of my abilities and I believed that God had put me there for a purpose. I knew that if I approached the authorities for a posting, it could be construed as a favour, and I might be approached later to return the favour in ways that I would be unwilling to do.

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