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J&K Government diluting autonomy of medical colleges: doctors’ body

 

The local doctors’ association in the Kashmir Valley on Monday was up in arms against the Union Territory administration’s move to dilute the autonomy of the government medical colleges (GMCs), truncate powers of principals and delegate more powers to the bureaucrats, in “first such precedent” in the country.

The J&K Health and Medical Education Department has proposed to empower administrators, personal officers and administrative officers from the bureaucracy to look into matters pertaining to government medical colleges’ employees, annual performance reports, departmental enquiries, vigilance cases, public grievances, service records, outsourcing, budget and planning matters. It also proposes to monitor the chairmen of survey boards, local purchase committees, training of non-gazetted employees, all matters related to accommodation to staff and students, hostel premises among others.

Hierarchical channel

“The hierarchical channel, pyramid for the Government Medical College, Jammu and Srinagar, for examining and routing the files and submitting the information to the administrative departments and concerned quarters shall be administrative officers, except policy decisions that shall be decided by the concerned principal,” the government proposal reads.

Terming the move as “clear infringement on the rights and jurisdiction of the executive heads of the medical institutions”, the Medical Faculty Association (MFA), a group of senior doctors of the government medical and dental colleges in Srinagar, said: “The Association strongly feels that the draft-proposal amounts to degrading the chair of the principals and deans of the GMCs”.

The body said it was a clear infringement on the rights and the jurisdiction of the executive heads of the medical institutions ensured by the National Medical Commission and the University Grants Commission.

“The proposal is against the best interests of patient care as the nuances of healthcare and medical education can better be understood by an administrative head from a medical background. It is likely to adversely affect the recognition of the courses at all levels,” the Association warned. Describing the proposal as “demoralising to the faculty members”, the doctors said they would have no objection if the arrangement were part of a national scheme applicable to all such institutions. “No such example is available from any medical institutions in any of the States or the Union Territories.”

Tension on campus

The proposal has sparked unease on the campuses in Srinagar with many senior doctors expressing resentment on social media. “Disempowering senior faculty members at the pinnacle of their career is becoming a new norm now. I fail to understand how lower rung officers in the order of precedence will rule us. Will Vice-Chancellors of any university or principal of any engineering colleges listen to any lower rank non-technical administrator? Why this duplicity? They push us to the wall,” Dr. Irfan Ahmad, Consultant Cardiologist at the GMC, Srinagar, wrote on Facebook.

The sweeping powers to the bureaucracy come months after two FIRs were lodged against medical students of local colleges in Srinagar for allegedly raising pro-Pakistan slogans after the neighbouring country won a cricket match against India. The police action drew opposition from the principals and the staff then.


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Printable version | May 24, 2022 5:26:41 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/jk-govt-diluting-autonomy-of-medical-colleges-doctors-body/article38319676.ece