Given the complexities of bringing in medical education under the National Commission on Higher Education and Research (NCHER) — an overarching regulatory body — as against the National Council on Human Resource for Health (NCHRH), the task forces of the two proposed bodies on Thursday broadly decided to explore the possibility of allowing both the institutions to come up, but to have some linkages with each other.
The members of the two task forces who met here felt there was a “cultural disconnect” between the two draft Bills with the NCHER Bill striving to make the universities and research institutions highly autonomous while the NCHRH Bill was based on far too many “government controls” on medical institutions and hospitals. Instead of trying to force uneasy compatibility, the members sort of agreed that both the bodies could be created through two legislations as announced by President Pratibha Patil in her speech to the joint session of Parliament, and then find some possible connection.
The task force on NCHRH, set up by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, might also go in for a fresh relook at the draft to make the institutions more autonomous.
According to a member, the two task forces recognised the need for a multi-disciplinary approach to higher education with specific needs of medical education to be addressed, as also the need for setting up a technical monitoring body. It was suggested that some members could be common to both the bodies and they could serve as a link between the two streams of education.
The NCHER task force will now take its draft to the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) on June 18 and 19. If approved, it will then be submitted to the government and the final call will be taken by the Prime Minister.
The NCHER proposes to bring under its purview all streams of higher education and research including medical and legal. However, this is being resisted by the Ministries of Health and Family Welfare and the Law. Agriculture is also sought to be brought under the domain of the NCHER but since it is a State subject, it would require a constitutional amendment to bring it in the Concurrent List.
The issue was also raised at the Parliamentary Standing Committee of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare where the members said medical education was linked to the health system and could not be extracted. They also said that the proposed NCHER was a highly centralised body and health and education being in the Concurrent List could not be handed over to it.