Ode to my Alma Mater – MMC, The Epic Saga


“Care for the sick” is thy duty

“Learn to heal” is thy motto

“Cure the illness” is thy aim

“Learn to help” is thy object.

The Vision, the Purpose and the Inspiration for the existence of this enduring and evolving institute of education is succinctly exemplified in the college anthem it so reverently sings.

Madras Medical College, more poetically termed as MMC stands at the heart of the engine of a bustling cosmopolitan city. Lulling in the breeze of the Marina, the MMC stands amongst other giants in their own accord, the Chennai Central Railway Station, the Southern Rail Museum, the Memorial hall, the Broadway bus terminus and the former Central Jail. Though gyrating to the tunes of the elite company it shares, the college sings the song of its own.

As has always been testified by the glorious history of  mankind that all promising and lasting ventures start from a modest little attempt, so goes for MMC. Began as a private medical hall by Dr. Mortimar, a surgeon for European and Eurasian students, the hall was regularised into a medical school in 1835 by Governor Sir Frederick Adams and accorded the status of a college on the 1st of October of 1850, when it was christened ‘MMC’. The first proud batch graduated in 1852.

121004120338_photo4The timeline of the college is studded with glories that dazzle with the light of among-the-most primordial attempts for a better tomorrow. In addition to being the first medical college in India along with MC, Kolkata, it holds credit to be among the oldest in the Indian Subcontinent. The college, then governed by English, took Indians to their equals and opened the doors to their Oriental brethrens in 1842.

In an era wherein women were subdued and suppressed in the society, Mary Scharlieb came all the way from Europe to India to study medicine. She worked her way to become the 1st lady doctor in the world and stands tall and inspiring among the 1st four women students of this Planet. And it was not long before that her example was emulated by Krupabai Sathianathan, the 1st Indian women to join MMC. But  was forced to discontinue due to ill health, though not without her sparkling performance in first year wherein she topped the chart.

Then Muthulakshmi Reddy took the baton and became the 1st Indian women to graduate with a Medical Degree from the college. And in addition to serving as path-blazers, these great women of word and valour left indelible marks in history in the form of the Royal Victoria Hospital for Caste and Gosha Women, now renamed as Govt. Kasturibai Gandhi Hospital in Chetpet, established by Mary Scharlieb, and the Cancer Institute of Adyar by Muthulakshmi Reddy.

A curious and queer fact from the factopedia of the college is that the name MMC is sincerely an unmovable boulder. The story is that in the year 1996, the college’s name was turned to CMC, Chennai Medical College from MMC. But whether it was the mere practicality of the fact that the college happened to be more known world-over as MMC or some supernatural underpinning beyond the comprehension of human mind, the original name was evoked soon and sustained ever since.

The college is funded and managed by the Govt. of Tamilnadu. The Supreme head of the Institution is the Dean and is followed by the Vice-Principal. The college contains and nurtures 84 departments, offering in all 5 UG courses, 16 PG Diplomas, 25 PG Degrees and 14 PG Super-specialty Degrees. Admission is through State and Central Quota. And special allocation is availed for PG seats to doctor’s committed to serve the State. As to keep up the competitive air among the academician, the college chairs about 80 medals and prizes. The most prestigious medal among these is the Johnstone Medal, which is conferred to the student of highest academic excellence at the completion of his/her medical education.

The college campus is aesthetically awesome, conducive and modest. A step across the threshold of the main gate into the college heralds four imposing blocks. The one on near left is the SPM department, on far left is the block holding the Physiology Dept., the Pharmacology Dept. and the college Library. The block on near right, a huge mammoth of a building houses the Departments for Biochemistry, Microbiology, Pathology and Forensic Medicine. And on far right is the Pantheon-like Seminar hall with its four imposing pillars, casting shadow in the evening on the administrators block with the Office and the Dean and Vice-Principal office. And standing at the centre of the quadrilateral formed by these four blocks is the Pillar, the Obelisk of MMC. The spire in white marble, rising high up with the college emblem and the year 1835 emblazed upon its pinnacle, permeates the heart of every aspiring medico with pride and purpose every single day.

A walk straight down from the gate and a turn to left enshrines to the human eyes a relic of a building. A block in red sandstone, where the ancient fans of British era still swirls, the wooden staircase still strikes in your heart the mystic effulgence of the history gone by, the department of Anatomy that enlivens the block strives to teach each man the human body to the point of perfection that he may know it as if he himself had made it.

As for the haunts apart from academicia is concerned, siting and swaying in the alley between the SPM block and the Library block is the juice shop, with the peaceful corridor, donned with trees on either side leading to the playground and the gallery. Be it sun, rain or strike, the college has never witnessed the corridor deserted. And on the far right sits the Student’s canteen with its warm flavour of aroma, speckled with the clatter of dishes and the chatter of students.

Holding to itself its rich and cherished heritage, treating its students with the rigour and extensiveness of medical curricula, and reigning supreme in the domain it belongs, the institution that’s celebrating its 175th year of existence with a huge exodus of Conferences, CME’s and Workshops’s, and sports and cultural meet, the institute that has refused to gray with age, the being that’s sprouting greater vitality and more exuberance with each passing timeline, the soul that’s lavishing it’s purpose and patience on a multitude of generations, the epic saga, the MMC, Cares and Heals.





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