Once a patient came all the way from Patan in Gujarat with a growth in the left tonsils. While examining him, he vomitted blood. I called his wife and told her that I could not do anything for him and asked her to take him back. He, in turn, told me that I was not God and that I should not give a definite 'no' but should treat him. I replied that it was an advanced stage of cancer and it would not be right to take money from him for something which is futile. He, however, said that he had the money, and I had to perforce, operate upon him. That was in 1935.

In 1962 a patient came to me with some throat trouble. I examined him and found no growth or lesion there and told him he was normal. He then disclosed that he was the same patient I had given up initially and later operated on in 1935. He said "you are not God. So please do not tell your patients that they will die. Even if there is the faintest of hope, treat them”.

This brings me to the extremely important subject of euthanasia. I believe in it. If the patient had agreed to die, I would have said let him die. But the case above proves that there are many aspects to be considered before we can decide on euthanasia.

Corruption has always been prevalent in our profession. When I started practice, I realised it. A doctor would bring a patient or two and then disappear if his cut was not given. My friend, the late Dr P.M. Sangani, then Superintendent of the Harkisondas Hospital told me: "Shanti, if you want to practise in Bombay, you must give commission to other doctors, or you will not succeed”. I replied that I would rather give up practice.

Some time later, the Surgeon-General of the Bombay Government called me and asked whether I would like to be a Professor of Anatomy. I said I would accept it on condition that I get the salary which the retiring professor got, Rs 2,500 p.m., which was a big sum in those days. He agreed to my condition.

That very evening, I informed this fact to the late Mr R.G. Saraiya and told him that I was giving up private practice as I had no chance of getting patients. He, however, informed his father-in-law, Sir Purshottamdas Thakurdas about it. Sir Purshottamdas who had tremendous influence, telephoned the Health Minister and told him not to give me the job.

When I did not hear anything from the Surgeon General for eight days, I ran out of patience and motored down to Poona where I met him. He called me a funny chap for having accepted his offer one day, and then on the following morning, telephoning the Health Minister and refusing it. I told him I was a small man and did not know the Health Minister, but he said the appointment had already been made—another doctor was appointed.

I then remembered that I had spoken about my job to Ramanlal Saraiya, and approached him. He told me that Sir Purshottamdas wanted to see me. When I went to him, he asked me why I wanted a full-time job. I told him that there was no scope for an honest man to practise in Bombay. Every doctor wanted a cut, I added. He asked me what my monthly expenses were and I replied that I needed at least Rs 1,200. He then told me that he would put Rs 1,200 every month for three years into my bank account and asked me to do private practice. "If you cannot make the grade in three years, you can do what you want” he told me.

I felt humiliated and disappointed. When I reached home my wife asked me to rush to the Harkisondas Hospital. There I treated two boys, sons of a multi-millionaire for 2 /2, months and earned Rs 11,000 which could cover my expenses for a year.

A few days later, I met Dr P.M. Desai, a radiologist at the J.J. Hospital who called me to the races. Though I did not know the difference between a head and a tail, I accompanied him and asked for a tip. I did not know the procedure to bet and stood in a queue. When my turn came, the girl at the counter said that it was the Rs 50 window. I gave her Rs. 100 and asked for two tickets but had by then forgotten the number of the horse. So I shouted some other number and she said that the horse had crashed. I did not know what she meant by that and others in the queue were becoming angry. "Gentleman, the horse is not running” somebody shouted. So I shouted out Number 7 but the girl heard it as Number 5 and gave me two tickets. By sheer fluke, my horse came first. I was about to tear the ticket but my friend told me that I had the 'win' tickets and not ʻplace'. Without knowing the ABC of racing, I had won Rs 11,000. Thus, my expenses for the second year were also covered. The following day 1 went to Sir Purshottamdas, returned his cheque and told him that I had already earned Rs 22,000.