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Fractured support for AIIMS Director
Tripti Nath
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 16
AIIMS Director and noted heart transplant surgeon Dr P. Venugopal has got a fractured support from his 488-member Faculty Association for raising his voice against the undue interference of the Health Ministry in the day-to-day functioing of the institute.

Dr Venugopal has proceeded on a routine summer vacation till the third week of June. Although sources said that the Director called on the Prime Minister on Thursday and explained his stand on the issue, the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser Sanjaya Baru denied that the Director had called on Dr Manmohan Singh.

Sources said that the AIIMS Director had expressed his displeasure to the Prime Minister over the “systematic dilution of the autonomy of the institute” by the Union Health Minister.

Sources said that Dr Venugopal also told the Prime Minister that it would be difficult for him to continue if the Health Minister did not stop interfering in the day-to-day matters of the institute.

In a letter to the Prime Minister today, a group of senior faculty members has said that the institute has been deteriorating over the past three years due to the autrocratic functioing of Dr Venugopal.

The AIIMS Director who is known to be inaccessible both to the media and the faculty members, took everybody by surprise on Wednesday by asserting that he would resign if the dignity and autonomy of the institute was not maintained. Health Secretary P.K. Hota chose to be tight-lipped on the issue. Asked if the matter would be sorted out on the Health Minister’s return, the Health Secretary said, “I presume so.”

While one group of faculty members have decided to put aside their differences with Dr Venugopal on local issues in the interest of maintaining the autonomy of the institute, another group chose to stay away from the war of words between the Director and the Union Health Minister, Dr Anbhumani Ramadoss.

Reacting to Dr Venugopal’s allegations, the Health Minister had drawn attention to the total collapse of the AIIMS administration and lowering of its prestige in public esteem. He also said that Dr Venugopal should go ahead and resign.

Venugopal’s supporters alleged that the Health Minister has let loose his Officer on Special Duty in virtually running the institute. They took exception to the manner in which three key functionaries-sub Dean, Dr Neerja Batla, Public Relations Officer Dr Arti Vij and Senior Financial Adviser Mayank Sharma had been divested of their charge. Those entrusted charge instead to the post of sub dean are Surgeon Dr Sunil Chumber and Medical Superintendent of the Rajendra Prasad Eye Centre, Dr Shakti Gupta. The Senior Financial Adviser’s charge had, however, not been given to anybody till Friday evening.

Venugopal’s supporters said that their efforts to meet Dr Ramadoss in the past 18 months had proved futile. They alleged that Ramadoss was victimising those who had taken an anti reservation stand during the recent stir that lasted almost three weeks. “His party PMK is dominated by Other Backward Classes and by targeting anti reservationists, he is trying to keep his party members in good humour,” said a senior faculty member.

Another faculty member, however, said that the Faculty Association of AIIMS had not taken any stand on the matter. Describing Venugopal as “autocractic” and “indifferent”, they said that he deserved to be given a taste of his own medicine. “We are known for our service. Individuals do not matter.

During the Emergency in 1975, the then Congress President coined the slogan Indira ia India and India is Indira. Thirty years later, we cannot sing the same slogan for our Director. We don’t think that AIIMS is PV (P. Venugopal) and P. Venugopal is AIIMS.”

Meanwhile, the President of the AIIMS Resident Doctors Association said that almost half of the 1200 junior and senior resident doctors have signed up in support of Dr Venugopal. “We are collecting signatures of the faculty, residents and students and we will submit it to the Prime Minister on Monday.”



AIIMS doctors warned of action
Tribune News Service

Chennai, June 16
“Strong action” would be taken against indisciplined doctors in AIIMS, Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss said here today while commenting on the bickering between the government and the AIIMS administration on the reservation issue.

Talking to the media after inaugurating an international conference on uro-gynaecology and reconstructive pelvic surgery, he expressed confidence that the issue of quota would be “expeditiously and amicably” sorted out.

However, he warned some senior faculty members at the premier institution of the country for having “instigated the anti-reservation agitation by AIIMS students last month” and blamed them, saying that “they were again responsible for the face-off between the administration and the government over autonomy for AIIMS.”

He charged a coterie in the AIIMS with “converting the prestigious institution into a political hub.” Sounding a warning he said, “Action against them will be taken when I return to New Delhi on June 19.”

Some AIIMS faculty members had yesterday accused the Health Minister of unduly and intentionally undermining the prestige and dignity of the premier institution and had even demanded his removal as President of AIIMS.



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