AIIMS: PM blocks SC/ST recruitment
The Prime Minister’s Office has ordered a freeze on hiring 91 reserved category faculty at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences despite a government panel mandating the recruitment drive.
The order from the PMO to the health ministry has sparked fears among faculty members of an outburst of fresh caste battles similar to those that engulfed AIIMS during 2006-07.
The health ministry has directed AIIMS to keep “in abeyance till further orders” a special recruitment drive for SC/ST and OBC posts, many of which have been lying vacant for the past 15 years. The Telegraph has a copy of the correspondence.
The PMO move comes a few months ahead of the general election where the UPA hopes to woo SC/ST and OBC votes. PMO officials did not respond to repeated attempts to elicit a reaction.
Sections of the faculty said they had approached the PMO, pointing out what they allege are irregularities in an advertisement AIIMS had issued on November 4, 2008, for the special recruitment drive.
“From our perspective, this (the freeze) is what was required,” said Binod Khaitan, the president of the AIIMS faculty association. The association was at the forefront of the anti-reservation agitation that raged when the UPA was in the process of introducing OBC quotas in higher education.
“Why should SC, ST or OBC candidates alone be selected through a special recruitment drive?” Khaitan, also a dermatologist, asked.
But the PMO order appears at variance with its own action, earlier in the UPA’s tenure, of asking the University Grants Commission to conduct special recruitment drives to fill up the backlog of reserved faculty positions.
A government panel investigating AIIMS appointments since 1993, headed by Congress MP Karan Singh Yadav, had in its report in November 2007 confirmed suspicions of irregularities.
It had ordered the institute to hold special recruitment drives to fill up the backlog of vacant faculty positions reserved for SC/ST/OBC candidates before any recruitment to fresh vacancies — for general or reserved category posts.
“The special recruitment drive is a part of the government’s policy, and has to be followed,” Yadav said today.
The panel report made it “absolutely clear” that AIIMS must fill the backlog vacancies in the reserved category seats as a priority, he said. “But it appears that even 60 years after Independence, there are forces within the bureaucracy that may be uncomfortable with reservations,” said Yadav, the Lok Sabha MP from Alwar, Rajasthan.
A senior doctor associated with AIIMS said he was surprised that the PMO chose to block recruitments instead of seeking an alternative advertisement, if the original version was flawed.
The endemic faculty shortage at AIIMS has meant torturous workload for doctors, hurting the quality of health care delivery at India’s best-known hospital.
“A directive ordering that recruitment be kept in abeyance appears mischievous,” said the doctor who requested not to be named.
Soon after education minister Arjun Singh’s announcement of quotas for OBC students in higher education, AIIMS witnessed caste-based divisions within faculty and students that continue to simmer.
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