The Indian Association of Surgical Gastroenterology (IASG) came into being in 1988 as a section of the Association of Surgeons of India (ASI). Initially several surgeons including BML Kapur, RC Aranya and N Rangabashyam initiated a written request to the ASI during its Madras conference in 1987 which was signed by about 50 surgeons, asking for a separate gastroenterology section. BML Kapur was the first president and RC Aranya the first secretary. The association soon had its own AGM approved constitution and while office bearers were initially selected from the General Body, an election process was soon established. The IASG resolved to hold a national conference during the months of September/October every year, and also 2 district-level continuing medical education (CME) programmes, aimed mainly at promoting the specialty of Surgical Gastroenterology in the smaller towns and cities of the country. The First Annual Conference was held in Hyderabad and subsequent congresses in Ahmedabad, Meerut, Lucknow, Madras, Delhi, Madurai, Chandigarh, Pondicherry, Patna, Bhubaneswar, Hyderabad, Bhopal, Cochin, Lucknow, Chandigarh, Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Bengaluru and Kolkata. The next two years’ conferences will be held in Ahmedabad and Pune, respectively.
A number of leading Surgical Gastroenterologists have adorned the post of President of IASG. They include Amrish Parikh, Roshan Lall Gupta, PV Chalapathi Rao, SP Kaushik, B Krishna Rau, M Ahmed Ali, RC Aranya, SM Bose, Prakash Khanduri, N Ananthakrishnan, NM Gupta, TK Chattopadhyay, SK Mathur, JD Wig, A Rathnaswamy, RA Sastry, JM Mehta, R Surendran, A Chaudhary, H Ramesh, Mihir Mohapatra, and Chiranjeev Khandelwal.
When the Lucknow and the Madras Conferences took place, a contribution of Rs 50000 was made to the corpus of IASG. These were trying financial times for the Founder Secretary, and at the request of the respective organizing committees, the Lucknow and Madras (later Chennai) Orations were instituted. Further, a New Delhi city surgeon, TJ Aggarwal came forward with a donation of Rs 25000 which helped RC Aranya run the IASG in the first years. Accordingly an oration was instituted in the memory of Mrs Veerabhai JR Das Aggarwal, who was TJ Aggarwal’s late mother. It was decided that this would be delivered by the Immediate Past President of IASG at its Annual Conference.
In 1994, TK Chattopadhyay took over as secretary from RC Aranya, and in response to a request to provide up-to-date information on key topics in surgical gastroenterology, published a GI Surgery Annual which was released at the annual conference and sold for a nominal fee. Since then this has become a regular feature of the IASG, and in the past few years, intermittently, the Annual has been accompanied by a companion volume which highlighted surgical techniques.
During this period the IASG was witness to the development of a number of Medical Council of India and National Board of Examinations certified training programmes in Surgical Gastroenterology. Under the leadership of N Ananthakrishnan, and later S Nundy, the IASG did make important observations and suggest recommendations to the respective boards for implementation in training and credentialing. The IASG also adopted the journal Tropical Gastroenterology as its official organ and nominated N Ananthakrishnan as its Surgical Gastroenterology Editor. The IASG also has a member nominated to the Editorial Board of the Indian Journal of Surgery (presently Major General Atul Sharma).
Subsequent secretaries strengthened and diversified the activities of the IASG which established the section of the ASI as one of its most vibrant and scientific organizations. VK Kapoor took over from TK Chattopadhyay and he strengthened the academic content of IASG Meetings. He was succeeded by H Ramesh, P Sahni, SM Chandramohan and now Pradeep Rebala.
A number of developments took place during these years. In 2007, the IASG considered the possibility of separating from the parent body (ASI) and held a postal referendum to decide on this. The majority of the members wished to continue the IASG as a section of the ASI. However, this continues to create problems as current trainees in Surgical Gastroenterology do not spend a lot of time in general surgery and consequently wish to become members only of IASG and not ASI. Currently membership of the ASI is mandatory for becoming an IASG Member. The office bearers of the IASG are currently engaged in a dialogue with ASI resolve this deadlock.
In 2007, IASG introduced a Bursary for residents in Surgery and Surgical Gastroenterology which enabled them to attend the annual conference. Support for travel, stay, complimentary registration was accompanied by a visit to a leading centre in the city where the conference was being held. Candidates applying for a bursary needed to submit an abstract. Since 2007, there has been a steady if not spectacular growth of the scientific activities of IASG with an increase in the quality and quantity of abstracts (including randomized trials), conference attendance, quality of participation, and this has earned for the IASG a reputation for high quality scientific deliberation.
Currently the IASG is in an advanced stage of publication of an IASG textbook of surgical gastroenterology, aimed at covering Surgical Gastroenterology from an Indian perspective, which is perceived as a lacuna in most western textbooks.
An effort is also on to establish IASG databases, in diseases specific to India such as gall bladder cancer and chronic pancreatitis.
This year, the IASG has published its own antibiotic guidelines, compiled by its members and extensively peer-reviewed. A galaxy of international speakers have thus far delivered the Lucknow and Chennai orations. These helped to carry to the outside world the quality of IASGs scientific deliberations. In 2012, the IASG introduced a new oration––The IASG–AIG oration––at the request of the Asian Institute of Gastroenterology, Hyderabad. This will be held for 5 years continuously during which period the Lucknow and Chennai orations will alternate. After 5 years (2016), it will be continued as a keynote lecture until 2021. The first two IASG–AIG Orations were delivered by Jacques Belghiti (Clichy, France) and Takeshi Sano (Tokyo, Japan) in 2012 and 2013, respectively.
In 2014, IASG SSAT collaboration was initiated. This includes two faculty members from IASG will represent IASG during DDW annual conference and two faculty members from SSAT will represent SSAT during IASG annual conference and deliver lectures.
SSAT-IASG fellowship was initiated which includes award of 5000 USD for young GI surgeon, less than 45 years to attend DDW SSAT annual meeting and visit one or two SSAT member institutions in USA or Canada for 2 weeks after the meeting.