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The truth about promotions in AIIMS
Kavita Bajeli-Datt in New Delhi | December 13, 2006 15:22 IST
Questioning the selection procedure of faculty members at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, a high-level committee has said senior doctors treating politicians and senior government officials take advantage of their contacts to get promotions.
The four-member committee, headed by M S Valiathan, former head of Kerala's Sri Chitra Tirunal Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, has said there is a blurring of boundaries between the government and the Institute that has side effects that are far from healthy.
"Instances have been brought to our notice when legislators and influential persons in the government contact senior faculty members for health problems, and the faculty members in turn, take advantage of their contact to influence their own selections and promotions," the committee said.
Explaining that such examples would suggest a disturbing ambivalence in the attitude of a variable percentage of faculty to institutional autonomy, the panel recommended the creation of a personnel department with a competent personnel officer in charge who should report to the director.
The committee, formed after the institute's apex body recommended the dismissal of AIIMS Director P Venugopal in July, said they have received a large number of complaints regarding the functioning of the selection committee, putting a serious question on its "fairness and transparency."
"The appropriateness of MPs taking part in the selection of faculty members needs reappraisal as such a practice is unheard of in any institution of national importance or of higher education in India," the report said.
It said that even some faculty members have told them that they would prefer the selections for AIIMS faculty to be conducted by UPSC.
"We are told that the external experts who are invited to conduct the interview are asked to leave after giving their assessment of candidates, and the final recommendations are written in their absence and without their participation," the report said.
While more than two decades ago, selection at every level was based on open competition, the report said now the assessment over the years have weakened and promotion has become more or less automatic.
Out of a sanctioned strength of 542 at AIIMS, 495 faculty members are currently working, while 27 have taken voluntary retirement or resigned and eight are on foreign assignment.
"The yearly attrition is 5.5 per cent," it adds.
Saying that the attrition rate of faculty at AIIMS is not alarming, it said that the trend should be "monitored carefully."
The committee said that apart from the loss of doctors, the institute should also fill vacancies of skilled professionals like nurses and technicians."At present, the mechanism for recruitment is too slow and cumbersome to fill a large number of vacancies among nurses even though the number of applicants goes into thousands,"the report said.