India attained Independence from British Raj on 15th August 1947. Britishers ruled some parts of India for over 300 years although northern India was under their empire for just over 100 years. Credit must be given to the Englishmen for creating the Health structure in India by establishing rural dispensaries, Tehsil and District Hospitals, in addition to some of Medical Schools and Colleges in the country. But they did not encourage Postgraduate Education in Medicine in India. Some of the medical graduates went to U.K. for postgraduate training and passed the Membership (in medicine MRCP) and Fellowship (in surgery-FRCS) from the Royal Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons and returned to India as specialists.
However, super specialisation in medical subjects such as Neurology, Cardiology, Gastroenterology etc and surgical subjects such as Neurosurgery, Cardiothoracic surgery, urology, etc remained a distance dream until almost 15 years after India became an Independent country. Some of the very senior Neurosurgeons and Neurologists of India got their super-specialty training abroad, in U.K, and Canada. They were Prof Jacob Chandi (Neurosurgeon) at Vallore, Prof B. Ramamurthi (Neurosurgeon) at Chennai, Prof. T. K. Ghosh (Neurophysician) at Kolkatta, Dr. Baldev Singh (Neurophysician) initially at Vellore and later at New Delhi, Dr. E. P. Bharucha, Dr. N.H. Wadia, Dr. Anil Desai (Neurophysicians) at Mumbai, Dr. G. Arjun Das and Dr. K Jagannathan (Neurophysicians) at Chennai, Dr. Ashoke Bagchi (neurosurgeon) at Kolkatta.
In 1951 some of senior Neurosurgeons and Neurologists established the Neurological Society of India. Precisely these were Dr. Jacob Chandi, Dr. B. Ramamurthi, Dr. S.T. Narsimhan and Dr. Baldev Singh This Society was started with less than half a dozen members which gradually grew larger since many more neurosurgeons and neurologists trained abroad came back to India in service of their motherland, although many remained abroad for greener pastures. As time passed, super specialty training in neurosciences started at many centers in India which initially was at AIIMS New Delhi, Vellore, Chennai, PGI Chandigarh and Mumbai and later at NIMHANS Bangalore. Presently there are 4 dozen training centers in neurosciences centers in India. The membership of NSI grew every year steadily and from 1964 Annual conference of NSI became a routine academic affair. The Neurosurgeons, Neurologists and soon allied Neuro-scientists also joined this organization. Scientific papers were presented at this Annual Conference of NSI along with lectures by Invited speakers from India and abroad. In 1974 the Society started regular CME Programmes along with Annual Meeting.
Why Separate Organization for Neurologists
Some of the neurologists working in Academic Institutes of excellence started feeling that NSI was getting more dominated by their neurosurgical colleagues and secondly they also felt that higher academic standards in neurology particularly of international level cannot be achieved unless they have a Society only by the neurologists. However, they made it clear that the neurologists will remain members of NSI and function in it with their neurosurgical and allied colleagues but for more precise academic neurology and patient care in neurology they would have a separate organization as well. Dr. J. S. Chopra, Professor and Head Dept. of neurology at postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research Chandigarh after successfully organizing the XIV world congress of Neurology at New Delhi, took the initiative and proposed to all the neurologists of India for a separate organization which should be by the neurologists and for the neurologists of India. The response was Luke warm. Very senior neurologists conveyed their anger but were politely and firmly informed that it will not be a revolt against the NSI and that the neurologists will remain members. However, they will also have a separate society as well.
Like minded neurologists approved the proposal of Dr. J. S. Chopra and agreed to meet in Manipal (Karnataka) separately for one hour, during the Annual Congress of NSI in 1991. This meeting was held on16/12/1991 by about 40-50 neurologists, and this small gathering agreed for a separate Association of neurologists. Dr. J. S. Chopra had already circulated a letter to some of the neurologists before this meeting and had requested for an appropriate name of this Association. Many suggestions were received, but the one suggested by Dr. Chopra and Dr. J.K.M. Murthy from Hydrabad was approved during the meeting at Manipal, i.e. This organization be called Indian Academy of Neurology (IAN). It Newsletter to be circulated by Secretary to all members which would be called Bulletin Indian Academy of Neurology.
An adhoc action committee was formed for further course of action. Dr. Krishnamoorthy Srinivas from Chennai was chosen as acting Chairman, Dr. M. Gauri Devi as acting Vice Chairman, Dr. J. S. Chopra as acting Secretary of this adhoc committee with Dr. S. Prabhakar as Treasurer. The members of this adhoc Executive Committee were Dr. N.C. Borah, Dr. S. M. Katrak, Dr. M.C. Maheshwari, Dr. Devika Nag, Dr. N.N. Sarangi, Dr. Z.A. Sayeed, Dr. Neeta Mehta, and Dr. S. Venkataraman.
The constitution and Bye-Laws of Indian Academy of Neurology were framed by the adhoc Executive Committee at this meeting, and published in the bulletin of the Academy vol. I, No.2, August, 1992. The IAN was registered as a Charitable Society at the office of the Registrar for societies at Chandigarh on 10/09/1992. It was resolved that conference of IAN will be held at Ranchi in 1992 during the Annual conference of NSI. It was to be organized by Dr. K. K. Sinha. However, it was cancelled in view of some unfortunate events in some parts of India. This first conference was rescheduled for 1993 and indeed it was held at Ranchi from 27-29 November under this adhoc committee of IAN. This conference was a great success and organized at a grand scale by Dr. K.K.Sinha and collegues. It was also decided that next Annual Conference of IAN should be held at New Delhi in 1994, but before it elections be held for a regular Executive Committee of IAN. The election were to be held for one post of President, one post of Vice President, which they will hold for one year and one post of Secretary, Treasurer and four posts of members which they will hold for a duration of three years and two more members one each against the post of Past President and editor of the journal for one year. Ballot papers were printed at Chandigarh and circulated to the members, by acting Secretary of the Academy. The last date for nomination to be received at Chandigarh was Sept. 15, 1992, Ballot papers were mailed in October 1992. The Executive Committee shall have 11 members. The President Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Editor, two immediate Past President and four full members/ fellows of Academy.
The election results were published in the bulletin of the Academy. Vol.2, 1 1993 Dr. J.S. Chopra was unanimously elected as the Founder President of IAN, Dr. Anupam Das Gupta from Kolkatta as Vice President. Dr. C. U. Velumurugendran from Chennai as its founder Honorary Secretary and Dr. S. Prabhakar from Chandigarh was elected as its first Treasurer, along with few members to form the first executive committee of IAN in 1993 The most important clause in the constitution was, that its life/full time members will only be those who are qualified full time practicing neurologists and who have passed DM neurology or its equivalent degree form India or abroad. The allied specialists such as neurosurgeons, neuropathologists, neuroradiologists, neurochemists, neuroanaesthesiologists etc can only become Associate/or life Associate members. They will never hold any Office in the Executive committee, nor will they have any voting rights. This was to preserve the purity of IAN to remain a body to be run and controlled only by the neurologists of India. The officers of IAN will be the President, the Vice President, the Secretary, the Treasurer and the Editor of the journal of Academy.
The executive committee decided that the IAN must have its scientific Journal for publication of scientific material from its members and others from India and abroad. It was named Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology. Dr. M. Gouri Devi, Head Dept. of Neurology and Director/ Vice Chancellor NIMHANS Banglore was chosen the first Editor-In-Chief for this Journal Dr. M. Gouri Devi discharged her duties meticulously and was responsible for the regularity in the Publication and indexing of this Journal. Later Dr. D. Nagaraja from NIMHANS became the Editor-In-Chief, followed by Dr. Sanjeev Thomas from Thiruvanathapuram. The Annals of IAN is now indexed as follows. Indian Medlars, Index Copernicus, Embase, Scirus, Scopus, Science Direct, Science Citation Index and several other agencies. The Executive Committee decided for following subsections of the Academy. I) Cerebrovascular Disease, ii) Neuromuscular, iii) Movement Disorder, iv) Clinical Neurophysiology, v) Epilepsy, vi) Paediatric Neurology, vii) Neuroepidemiology, viii) Headache.
By 17/01 1993, there were 142 life members, 94 full members, 6 members from abroad, 4 life associate members and 81 associate members. IAN became members of International Federation of Clinical Neurophysiology and soon after was affiliated with World Federation of Neurology. The first annual Conference of IAN under duly elected Executive committee was held for a day, along with International Conference on Organization and Delivery of Neurological Services (A research group of world Federation of Neurology) at New Delhi in Hotel Surya Sofitel from 19 to 22 Nov. 1994. First Presidential oration was delivered by Dr. J.S. Chopra. Elections were also held for the next vice President of IAN. Gradually the IAN also received blessings from the very senior neurologists of India (who initially opposed its creation) and they also joined it as members. In 1995 it was decided to award fellowship of Indian Academy of Neurology (FIAN) to 36 founding fellows.
The list of Presidents of the IAN who were elected each year is given in table. The second Honorary Secretary of IAN for a period of 3 years was Dr. D. Nagaraja from Bangalore and was followed by Dr. S. Prabhakar from Chandigarh and later Dr. M.M. Mehndiratta from New Delhi became its Honorary Secretary for two terms of three years each, Dr. J. M. K. Murthy from Hyderabad became the Treasurer of IAN after Dr. S. Prabhakar. Both of them worked very hard and soon IAN became a very viable organization financially.Dr. Satishchandra was Treasurer for two terms after Dr. J.M.K.Murthy.