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Vivian Thomas

Thursday February 24 2005 10:19 IST

By Karmayogi

It is talents that accomplish anywhere, but the rewards do not necessarily go to talents. They go to one in position. The older the culture, the harder for pure talents without status to thrive. America accomplished shortly what Europe took ages to accomplish.

Mother says She has much in common with America. America that valued pure talents and overtook the world has started being conservative for over a hundred years in certain things in certain areas. Only in times of Revolution called a transitional period, talents rise from nowhere to everywhere overnight. A nation that progresses like USA is undergoing several such Revolutions all the time.

In the 1930s, a Black carpenter named Vivian Thomas was extraordinarily skilled not only in carpentry but in anything he could lay his hands on. For seven years he saved money to go to college, so that he could fulfil his ideal of becoming a doctor.

In the crash of the Depression years, the bank he had his money in became bankrupt. His hopes were dashed. He sought odd jobs for a living. While working in a hospital, a doctor noticed his skill and enlisted him as a lab assistant. The doctor found him a wonder and personally took him into his confidence in many things, as if he were a doctor.

Those were days when discrimination against the Blacks was strongly entrenched. Blue babies, whose circulation was constrained, were dying as a rule. Dr. Blalock decided to break the taboo that said, Dont tinker with the heart and devise a method to save those children. It was Vivian Thomas who substantially helped the doctor with his theoretical knowledge as well as his practical skill.

In the first ever operation on the heart of a blue baby, Dr. Blalock found he was stuck without Vivian. Breaking all rules, he stormed out of the operation theatre and brought Vivian back to assist him. The operation was a success. World fame came to the doctor. Vivian was not even mentioned.

Frustrated Vivian tried in vain to join a medical college to become a doctor. Even in USA, the rules prevented him, but he rose to become the Director of Laboratories in the Johns Hopkins Hospital. Finally, at the fag end of his career, he was conferred an honorary doctorate, a thing inconceivable in India today.

A nation can prosper if all doors are open to all kinds of talents, wiping off rules, regulations, degrees, conventions, etc. Should India do so, she will be ushering in several Revolutions simultaneously. Talents must rule over degrees. Talents first, talents last. Caste, creed, race, sex, rules must give way to talents if India should march ahead. It is equivalent to a Revolution which all of us need urgently in all fields.

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