Year : 2014  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 83--85

Professor Rajendra Tandon: Passing of a legend

Shyam Sunder Kothari1, R Krishna Kumar2,  
1 Professor of Cardiology, Cardiothoracic Center, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Ansari Nagar, New Delhi - 110 029, India
2 Clinical Professor and Head of Department, Pediatric Cardiology, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, Kochi, Kerala, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. R Krishna Kumar
Clinical Professor and Head of Department, Pediatric Cardiology, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, Ponekkara PO, Cochin - 682 041, Kerala

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Kothari SS, Kumar R K. Professor Rajendra Tandon: Passing of a legend.Ann Pediatr Card 2014;7:83-85

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Kothari SS, Kumar R K. Professor Rajendra Tandon: Passing of a legend. Ann Pediatr Card [serial online] 2014 [cited 2021 Sep 16 ];7:83-85
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Dr. Rajendra Tandon, father figure of pediatric cardiology in India, passed away on 26 th of February 2014, after a brief illness. He represented the fountainhead for the pediatric cardiologists of India, and directly and indirectly influenced much for the growth of the disciplines in the field of adult and pediatric cardiology in India [Figure 1]. Dr Tandon was born on 21 st January 1931. He had his early medical training at the famous King George Medical College, Lucknow in early fifties. Subsequently, he was trained at the Boston Children hospital under Dr. Alexander Nadas during the nascent years of the discipline of pediatric cardiology. He chose to return to India despite the easy feasibility of staying overseas then, [Figure 2] because of his commitment to his country. He joined the budding cardiology department of All India Institute of Medical Sciences in 1963; guided and nurtured generations of students in the practice of cardiology who then went on to head the cardiology departments throughout the country. He superannuated as chief of the cardiothoracic center at the All India institute of Medical Sciences in 1991. His legacy now extends to more than 2 generations of cardiologists and includes numerous luminaries in India and abroad. Although he often lamented that he could train only 6 students to take up his primary vocation of pediatric cardiology, this had more to do with the way cardiology care was organized in India rather than the reflection of his influence: For his influence went even beyond cardiology and pediatric cardiology, but touched the very core of his student's being.{Figure 1}{Figure 2}

His mastery over the discipline of pediatric cardiology was complete and his commitment to teaching was unparalleled. He magically explored the tripod of clinical examination, electrocardiography (ECG) and chest x-ray to the delight of the students for years with undiminished enthusiasm [Figure 3]. The newly found gadget of echocardiogram was often humbled by his auscultation in those early days. Of course, his understanding of echo was exceptional as he was a trained cardiac pathologist, as well. The 2 year stint in cardiac pathology with Dr Jesse Edwards in mid-seventies resulted in a lifetime of friendship and mutual admiration, and that also produced some of the classics in cardiac pathology that are referred till date. [1],[2],[3],[4],[5],[6],[7] His interest in rheumatic fever bordered on obsession. He chaired the Indian Council of Medical Research group on Rheumatic fever that has yielded significant results. [8],[9] He always stimulated students and colleagues with intriguing aspects of rheumatic fever and would plod them for some research. That rheumatic fever research should focus on endothelium was his unfinished agenda. [10] He continued to write till the very end and published important commentaries and reviews in the last years of his life. [11],[12]{Figure 3}

He was not a strict disciplinarian: He never needed to be one-such was the spontaneous flow of life around him. His innate goodness and deep sense of justice were enough to bring out the best from everyone around him without any sense of fear. In fact, his students were never scared of asking the silliest question to him and were guaranteed an inspirational answer. The popularity of his bedside classes was legendary. One of his famous quotes was "never humiliate your student in public". He never violated this axiom, not even in private. He set the highest standards of professional conduct as a teacher.

He set the highest standards of academic honesty. This was evident through candid admission of his unawareness, and his readiness to give his colleagues the complete credit for their contributions. Sometimes his students would get a hand written note praising an article published by them stating - I wish I could have written this, or similar immensely uplifting messages. He was deeply committed to nurturing the academic careers of next generation of cardiologists. 'A teacher is a permanent student, and when you cease to be a student, your days as teacher are numbered' was his counsel to his younger colleagues as he emphasized the need for continuous learning in medical profession. A striking attribute was his remarkable professional humility. There was an underlying thread of stark simplicity about his approach to life. He often said that the answers to the most complex dilemmas that we face as doctors are provided by listing the following priority sequence: Patient, profession, institution and self.

He perhaps reserved his aggression for sports where he was quite combative, and for fast car driving. He had refined taste and was a connoisseur of Indian classical music. He loved gardening and developed a very fine collection of Bonsai trees. He was also a good cook and was especially good at baking desserts.

In his post retirement years, it was increasingly clear that he lived with a deep sense of contentment. He was a perfect example of living in the present with very few regrets about his past and little anxiety about his future. He loved spending time with his family and his former students were frequently invited home as members of an extended family. He is survived by his wife, two sons and three grandchildren.

Dr Tandon was the founder member and the patron of the Pediatric Cardiac Society of India (PCSI). He authored a small book on clinical approach to congenital heart disease that is remarkable for its direct and simple approach, [13] and pledged the royalties from the book to the pediatric cardiac society of India. He did not covet any awards and yet received tremendous glory. In him, we see the truth of the statement - a teacher influences eternity. You can never tell where his influence stops.


1Tandon R, Edwards JE. Clinicopathologic correlations. Atrial septal defect in infancy: Common association with other anomalies. Circulation 1974;49:1005-10.
2Tandon R, Edwards JE. Tricuspid atresia. A re-evaluation and classification. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 1974;67:530-42.
3Marín-García J, Tandon R, Lucas RV Jr, Edwards JE. Cor triatriatum: Study of 20 cases. Am J Cardiol 1975;35:59-66.
4Tandon R, Moller JH, Edwards JE. Tetralogy of Fallot associated with persistent common atrioventricular canal (endocardial cushion defect). Br Heart J 1974;36:197-206.
5Tandon R, Moller JH, Edwards JE. Communication of mitral valve with both ventricles associated with double outlet right ventricle. Circulation 1973;48:904-8.
6Tandon R, Edwards JE. Cardiac malformations associated with Down's syndrome. Circulation 1973;47:1349-55.
7Tandon R, Edwards JE. Aneurysmlike formations in relation to membranous ventricular septum. Circulation 1973;47:1089-97.
8Shah B, Sharma M, Kumar R, Brahmadathan KN, Abraham VJ, Tandon R. Rheumatic heart disease: Progress and challenges in India. Indian J Pediatr 2013;80:S77-86.
9Tandon R. Rheumatic fever pathogenesis: Approach in research needs change. Ann Pediatr Cardiol 2012;5:169-78.
10Tandon R, Sharma M, Chandrashekhar Y, Kotb M, Yacoub MH, Narula J. Revisiting the pathogenesis of rheumatic fever and carditis. Nat Rev Cardiol 2013;10:171-7.
11Kumar RK, Tandon R. Rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease: The last 50 years. Indian J Med Res 2013;137:643-58.
12Tandon R. Preventing rheumatic fever: M-protein based vaccine. Indian Heart J 2014;66:64-7.
13Tandon R. Bedside Approach in the Diagnosis of Congenital Heart Disease. New Delhi: B.I. Churchill Livingstone Pvt. Ltd. 1998.