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Wannabe doctors, try IITs
Big Shift: Top tech school to now dole out MBBS degrees
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 10
The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) will now produce doctors by setting up medical colleges and hospitals on their campuses.

At a meeting here today, under the chairmanship of Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal, the IIT council — the supreme decision making body for the institutes — decided to amend the Indian Institutes of Technology Act to widen its scope and include “medicine” among the disciplines taught at the premiere technical institutes.

The move comes at a time when the Health Ministry, in its response to the HRD Ministry on this matter, had categorically rejected the idea, saying it was not advisable for the IITs to teach conventional medicine courses and they should instead concentrate on offering higher courses like PhDs in areas of collaborative research between engineering and medicine.

The Health Ministry letter (of which The Tribune has a copy) in this regard says: “The IITs must work with AIIMS, PGI, Chandigarh and Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research to design PhD courses in biomedical engineering, biotechnology, e-health and other fields which require medical technology. Also, they must work to provide new professionals required in the wake of the implementation of the Medical Devices Act — like bio-statisticians, bioengineers and biotechnologists. If they open medical colleges outside the regulatory control of the Medical Council of India (MCI), it would not be useful for the country which is already grappling with lack of basic health needs.”

Taking the Health Ministry’s suggestion on board, the IIT council today agreed to subject to MCI oversight any course that leads itself to the practice of medicine (like MBBS, BDS, etc). A necessary clarification would be made along with the proposed amendment to the IIT Act, said Sibal. Defending the move, he said boundaries of knowledge were fading away in the modern world. In case of other courses pertaining to inter-disciplinary research - like biotechnology and bio-engineering - where a degree does not lead to a formal practice of medicine, IITs will not seek MCI approval.

IIT Kharagpur has already proposed to start an MBBS course on its campus and other IITs too appear keen on it. Asked whether the move did not amount to the IITs moving away from their core strength, Sibal said, “IIT Delhi has long been working with AIIMS. You can’t limit knowledge or its fields these days.”

The proposal to teach medicine was first made at the 39th meeting of the IIT council held on January 29, 2009. Later, the HRD Ministry wrote to their health counterparts for a response.

The Health Ministry objected to IITs teaching medicine and said the technical institutes should work to make medical technology cheaper for the poor instead of foraying into conventional medicine.


n Freedom to enroll foreign students (up to 25%) in PG courses. Induction to be over and above existing strength.
n Appointment of foreigners as permanent faculty.
n Doing away with the Finance Ministry norm of 1.1 technicians against one academic post.
n Allow IITs total freedom on faculty recruitment and salary





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