Join, Follow & Connect
Join Modern Healthcare's LinkedIn group Follow Modern Healthcare on Twitter Join Modern Healthcare's Facebook group Follow Modern Healthcare's Pinterest board Modern Healthcare's Flickr page Modern Healthcare's YouTube Channel Get a Modern Healthcare news feed

 
Comment Buy Reprints Print Article Share on LinkedIn Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Email this page to a colleague
Healthcare Business News
 
Rajan Batra, constitutional history
Rajan Batra's efforts led to making a little constitutional history.

Outliers: Prof helps fix a historical gap


By Modern Healthcare
Posted: February 23, 2013 - 12:01 am ET
Tags:

Outliers has to confess: We love Oscar! And we paid extra attention to one of this year's big Academy Award contenders, but not only because of its cinematic merits. It seems Steven Spielberg's “Lincoln,” which features Daniel Day-Lewis as America's 16th president, led one scientist to do some research. And what he turned up helped make a bit of history.

After Ranjan Batra, a professor of neurobiology and anatomical sciences at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, saw “Lincoln” in November, he did some serious Googling. The native of India was curious when his adopted state ratified the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery and whose 1865 passage by Congress makes up much of the film's drama. “After a while, you realize this is a part of history you really don't want to be on the wrong side of,” says Batra, who became a U.S. citizen five years ago.

His Web surfing led him to usconstitution.net, where he was surprised to find that Mississippi had never formally adopted the amendment, and the state Legislature hadn't even passed it until 1995. After that, a glitch led to a failure to notify the U.S. archivist. That meant the 13th Amendment wasn't official in the Magnolia State. Batra and others still don't know what caused the glitch. “I look at it as silly; in 2012, I don't think anybody in the Legislature would oppose this measure,” Batra says.

Advertisement | View Media Kit

 

He told a colleague, Ken Sullivan, an anatomical material specialist for the medical center's body donation program. Sullivan's political connections helped launch an effort to make the amendment official in Mississippi. That happened on Feb. 14, two days after Lincoln's birthday.

News of Batra's deeds has attracted some attention, of course. He even received a phone call from Spielberg's office, as the famed moviemaker wants to send Batra a letter of thanks. Batra is reluctant to take any credit, and said he wishes someone else had led the effort years ago. “It makes you realize that even if you're one person looking at a computer in a room and you see something that it's possible to see that into action and start a chain of events that can actually accomplish something,” he says.


What do you think?

Share your opinion. Send a letter to the Editor or Post a comment below.

Post a comment

Loading Comments Loading comments...

Search ModernHealthcare.com:


 

Switch to the new Modern Healthcare Daily News app

For the best experience of ModernHealthcare.com on your iPad, switch to the new Modern Healthcare app — it's optimized for your device but there is no need to download.