What does the IoM dean issue mean?

  • Orthopedic surgeon Govinda KC’s protracted fight against ‘political hand-picking’ continues
- Post Report, Kathmandu

Nov 16, 2016-

For the last six years, appointment of the dean at the Institute of Medicine (IoM) has been a major bone of contention. 

The issue has further fuelled public interest as the appointment of dean based on seniority and an end to the practice of politically hand-picking has been a major agenda of Dr Govinda KC, an orthopedic surgeon at the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital (TUTH) who has been fighting for reforms in the medical education sector.

And of late, the IoM for quite a while has failed to get a dean who has served the full term. At times, a soon-to-retire official has been appointment the dean. In other cases, political bickering prompts the officials to step down. 

Dr Hemang Dixit recalls the days when deans used to serve their full term. “But not having officials who can assume the position for a longer period has its own consequences,” he said. 

The issue of dean appointment rose to prominence after the then dean at IoM Dr Arun Sayami was dragged into controversy over claims of leaked question papers in March 2010. 

On March 13 and 14, the IOM at the TUTH had conducted an entrance examination for post-graduate applicants. But students and doctors at the institute soon started a protest citing irregularities in the exam. The hospital was consequently closed for 19 days.

While a commission formed to probe the incident recommended action against Dr Sayami, he was able to retain the position after his tenure was over. And it was during this time that Dr KC began his fast in 2012 demanding that a senior official of the IoM should be appointed the dean of the IoM.

After Dr Sayami, IoM has seen six new deans, including Dr KP Singh who was appointed on Sunday. 

Among the deans, Dr Dharma Banskota and Dr Sashi Sharma resigned because Dr KC staged fast-unto-death demanding their ouster.

“Political investment in medical colleges and appointing their close ones for personal benefits might have been the reason for such contention,” said Dr Ramesh Kanta Adhikari, former IoM dean.

The IoM has provided affiliation to eight medical schools and each year they use their political clout to secure more seats in new academic sessions. Hence, experts believe that heavy commercialisation of medical education has also been a decisive factor in frequent change of deans.

Two deans—Dr Prakash Sayami and Dr Rakesh Shrivastava—were forced to resign following undue pressure from political circle and even from the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority. 

However, Dr Adhikari maintains that Dr KC this time chose to protest against a wrong person who was appointed following due process. “At least we should follow the system. Dr KC is hand-picking a person; it does not look good for a person of his stature,” said Dr Adhikari. “He should not hold the system hostage and must allow the new dean to work.”

Dr KC has been demanding appointment of Dr Jagdish Agrawal as the new dean. 

 

The story since 2010

 -    The issue of dean appointment at the Institute of Medicine first came to prominence after the then dean Dr Arun Sayami was dragged into controversy over claims of leaked question papers in March 2010 

 -    On March 13-14, the IoM conducted an entrance examination for post-graduate applicants. But students and doctors at the institute started a protest citing irregularities in the exam

 -    The hospital was consequently closed for 19 days

 -    A commission formed to probe the incident recommended action against Dr Sayami

 -    In 2012, Dr Govinda KC began his first fast-unt-death demanding that a senior IoM official should be appointed the dean 

 -    After Dr Sayami, IoM has seen six new deans, including Dr KP Singh who was appointed on Sunday

 -    Dr Dharma Banskota and Dr Sashi Sharma had resigned after Dr KC staged fast-unto-death demanding their ouster

 -    Dr KC has been demanding appointment of Dr Jagdish Agrawal as the IoM dean 

 -    Two deans—Dr Prakash Sayami and Dr Rakesh Shrivastava—were forced to resign following undue pressure from political circle and the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority 

Published: 16-11-2016 07:36

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