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Another Senior Doctor From AIIMS Contemplates Leaving Due to Infighting

All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) dean is considering quitting the institution //, as he feels of being subjected to humiliation by some colleagues and misguided students.

The dean R.C.Deka, a leading ENT surgeon in the country and an expert in cochlear implant surgery is now contemplating leaving the premier institution on account of being badly treated by his colleagues and students. He explained that he would consider the post of vice-chancellor of K.G. Medical University in Lucknow, which had been offered to him around the same time he had become the dean of AIIMS.

He further stated that on the 15th of June, some doctors and students had surrounded his house and shouted slogans demanding his resignation. The doctor has alleged that a provocative speech by AIIMS director P Venugopal was the cause of the instigation. Dean Deka said, "After being in the profession for nearly 31 years and serving for 25 years at AIIMS, it becomes difficult to face humiliation from colleagues and misguided students. They surrounded my quarters, shouted slogans against me, and even demanded my resignation."

Deka, who is the head of the ENT department for the past 11 years, said he became so disturbed by the events that he had cancelled his trip to Russia this week. The doctor explained that he had been invited as a guest speaker at the annual session of the International Academy of Otorhinolaryngology (ENT) at St. Petersburg.

Reports have showed that there has been an exodus of top doctors, and seemingly AIIMS has not learnt from the past. Reports indicate that since 2003, 24 senior doctors have left, either for monetary reasons or because of infighting in the institution. Three of AIIMS' top doctors, V.S. Mehta (Head of Neurosurgery), Anoop Misra (Professor of Medicine), and S.N. Mehta (Head of Surgery) had left in March to join private hospitals.

Sources at the health ministry say that the institute is current ly falling short of faculty members and its present staff strength is much less than the strength that has been sanctioned. AIIMS has right now 479 faulty members as against its sanctioned number of 543, the source indicated.

Meanwhile Deka has expressed his anguish over the treatment being meted out to him stating, "Why are they against me? Contrary to popular perception, I do not have any financial powers nor do I get something extra." Records of the government order for his appointment as the dean shows that he will be entitled to a further compensation of Rs 500, per month for the duration of his tenure.

Sources at AIIMS reveal that, Venugopal, K K Talwar, and Deka were initially short listed for the post of director in 2003. Venugopal was selected, sidelining his retirement for the post for five years. Many at the institution had considered that this was due to due to his closeness with the then central government. A senior faculty member also explained Venugopal and Deka have not been very good friends, he also said that Venugopal broke and age old protocol of AIIMS, which was followed since 1962, of appointing an acting director other than the dean. This he also claims is an insult to the dean.

It was reported that Venugopal, while proceeding on leave last week, had appointed the forensic science department head T.D. Dogra as acting director even as Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss chose Deka for the job. Ramadoss and Venugopal are already in disagreement over the issue of autonomy of the institute, with the Delhi High Court having asked for their versions of the dispute.

In the ongoing feud between the director and the health minister, the former had accused the ministry of eroding the autonomy of the AIIMS, the minister had retorted back, saying his critics have turned the country's leading medical institute into a 'political hub'. Deka had meanwhile has dismissed the charges of violation of AIIMS autonomy, sta ted that since the government was allocating over Rs 4 billion to the institute every year, it did have every right to know about the expenditure.

He also explained that the government do not interfere with the academic activities or research works, and that as per rules they do have the right to know about administrative matters of the institute.


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