New Delhi: The AIIMS governing body, which will meet today, may take up the contentious issue of enforcing a rotation policy for the heads of department of the premier institute.
Rotation of headship after every five years is one of the key recommendations of the M S Valiathan committee, which was formed to suggest measures to improve the functioning of the All India Institute Of Medical Science during the Congress dispensation in 2006-07.
Interestingly, the issue does not figure in the official agenda of tomorrow’s meeting shared with the governing body (GB) members.
“The GB is likely to discuss the implementation of the Valiathan committee report recommendations including enforcing rotation of head of departments at AIIMS,” a faculty said.
Also, the meeting, according to a source, has been called on the directions of the Health Ministry, within two months of the previous meeting, minutes of which were not approved till the time the notice of the convening meeting was taken out.
According to sources at AIIMS, the Valiathan committee report, which was criticised in the 87th report of the Rajya Sabha Parliamentary Standing Committee and by several members of Parliament such as Sushma Swaraj and Jyoti Mirdha, is being used to promote an individual as the head of the department at AIIMS.
There is a widespread resentment among the faculty, which feels the autonomy of the institute is at stake due to undue interference from outside and challenges the very fabric of autonomy of the institute.
According to a senior faculty member, the issue of rotating headship came to the governing body and institute body of the AIIMS on several occasions in the past but because of its negative repercussions, it was never implemented.
Except for earlier committees, no recent committees, including the Venkatachalam committee and the Dr Balram Airan committee, recommended rotating headship.
Institute body in its meeting on January 16, 2012, even recommended scrapping of the Valiathan committee report.
“No study has been made to understand the real problems of rotating headships in these institutes, implementation of which will lead to instability and lack of discipline in the departments and the developmental work will suffer as it will not be possible to conceive, plan and implement a project in such a short duration,” a senior faculty said.
Another faculty said there will be serious administrative anomalies.
“The head of department despite being junior will chair the committees consisting of seniors. Nowhere in the western world, the concept of rotating headship is followed in the medical field,” another faculty said.
The 87th report of the Rajya Sabha Parliamentary Standing Committee on the functioning of the AIIMS had observed certain deficiencies in the report, saying Valiathan himself admitted that none of the other members of the committee attended its proceedings on a regular basis and he submitted report despite Prasanna Hota’s (then Union health secretary) requests for extension for accommodating further debate.
The Valiathan committee comprised four members, of whom Dr M K Bhan did not attend any meetings and Prashant Hota and Dr R K Shrivastava gave dissenting notes.
“The Valiathan committee did not function as a democratic committee, and the report is the sole handiwork of Dr Valiathan. More importantly, the committee had no representation from non-medical academia (especially humanities) or civil society,” AIIMS RDA president, Harjit Singh Bhatti, said.
“And moreover, when the Parliamentary Committee itself has debunked this commitee’s report, there is no reason why it should be taken up at the GB just to favour some vested interests,” Dr Bhatti said.