Dizzying contrasts-Heterogeneity in a local organization


As part of our yearly review-we went through some writings on Culture. We used reference point of a Department Wall Magazine, and some readings on culture to discuss -debate the heterogeneity of culture within a local organization.

Dizzying contrasts

As part of our yearly review-we went through some writings on Culture.

In the book-The Argumentative Indian, Amartya Sen writes about lessons from Satyajit Ray’s films and writings. In this we see the explorations of at least three general themes on cultures and their interrelations: the importance of distinctions between different local cultures and their respective individualities, the necessity to understand the deeply heterogeneous character of each local culture (even that of a community, not to mention a region or a country), and the great need for inter-cultural communication while recognizing the difficulties of such intercourse.

While reflecting on what to focus in his films, he put the problem beautifully:

What would you put in your films? What can you leave out ? Would you leave the city behind and go to the village where cows graze in the endless fields and the shepherd plays the flute? You can make a film here that would be pure and fresh and have the delicate rhythm of a boatman’s song.

Or would you rather go back in time-way back to the epics, where the gods and the demons took sides in the great battle where brother killed brother and Lord Krishna revivified a desolate prince with the words of the Gita? One could do exciting things here, using the great mimetic traditions of the Kathakali, as the Japanese use their Noh and Kabuki.

Or would you rather stay where you are, right in the present, in the heart of this monstrous,teeming, bewildering city and try to orchestrate its dizzying contrasts of sight and sound and milieu? (1)

The discussions took us into the special article –Remaking the Indian historian’s craft-by Anirudh Deshpande (EPW-Feb 16,2013) in which he discussed John E o’Connor’s four ways indispensable to a historian’s understanding of film

1-To see film as a representation of history

2- To view it as a means providing an insight into past cultural and political values

3-Scrutinize it as a kind of historical evidence

-to ‘read’ it as a conventional document

4- To carry out a study of the film and television industry in order to examine the context from within which the visual narratives emerge.





We adopted two walls in our organization. In one wall-we have been discussing themes relating to the history of Medicine and Science. On this wall-we discussed the role of Ibn Sina in Medicine, to the youngest ever Nobel Laureate in Medicine-Physiology-Banting for Insulin

In the other wall, we discussed themes relating to Imaging –case scenarios, line diagrams.

As we are part of scientific medical organization, these two walls offered narratives in the year 2015 which made us connect with many currents of science, medicine, and also look at our day to day work in the context of larger changes in medicine.

Thinking like an Industry, this year, we faced the collapse of insurance companies, evacuation of embassies and oil-construction companies which led to many stresses in the management.

Thinking as medical professionals, we saw the way imaging has evolved through applications like 3 d reconstructions for tumor mapping, localization of lesions.

As part of Historical theme-we discussed the question –Do you know any medical professional in our generation who can inspire the current medical students?

As part of Culture- our Wall magazines helped enhance the Medical Culture. Viewing the section on Lines-and-Catheters in The Intensive Care-and their Imaging, one old-timer recalled the time when he was head of Surgery and trained all his surgery residents to put central lines. “We are not anesthetists?” some had protested. Being trained in Germany, he told of the need of every medical doctor to be trained and well practiced in these emergency procedures.


Within the same organization, there can be a marked heterogeneity, depending on the approaches. Three ways to enhance the medical scientific culture is to have a (1) Wall Magazine (2) Follow-up register of medical cases (3) Journal club.

The same organization when seen from the eyes of the Finance board always has a narrative of –how much is our collection?

One friend debated with us whether these line diagrams of shoulder, history of medicine, discussion on Nobel Prizes for Medicine, Peace, Literature, or discussions on the evolution of concepts of disease make any difference to a Board which just asks- What is collection?

My friend is right in many ways.

But our efforts to have a scientific narrative- to add to the heterogeneity of the culture of our organization keeps going on.


References-Suggested Readings

  • From Our Culture their Culture- Pages 121-138-The Argumentative Indian

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