CHANDIGARH, February 7: Emerging as the first health minister of any state in the country to directly take upon the Centre’s proposed National Medical Commission (NMC) bill, tabled in Lok Sabha, Punjab Health Minister, Brahm Mohindra, today fired a missive to all members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha from Punjab, exhorting them to raise their voice in the parliament against this ‘dictatorial’ bill.
The NMC bill, which now stands referred to a Parliamentary Standing Committee is full of flaws, the minister said.
Launching his scathing attack, the minister said the NMC bill has been prepared by non-medicos, and is not only dictatorial but also impinges on the freedom of allopathic practitioners. It is a novel way to reward non-meritorious candidates and is against the basic tenants of constitution of right to equality, he added.
"lt is against the spirit of scientific temper enshrined in the directive principles of the constitution. For petty political gains the central government is on the path of systematic destruction of the constitutional institutions,” Brahm Mohindra said.
Acquainting MPs with the finer details of the controversial bill, the minister said "as per page 4, chapter 2, clause 4, sub clause 4c of the bill, only 5 members from 29 states will be represented from all over India in the NMC. The other 24 states will go unrepresented, which is undemocratic. This will invite favouritism.”
"NMC bill is against the spirit of scientific temper enshrined in the directive principles of the constitution. For petty political gains the central government is on the path of systematic destruction of the constitutional institutions,” Brahm Mohindra said.
"Our state of Punjab is bound to be left unrepresented in the NMC. Earlier, our state of Punjab was represented by 2 members in MCI, out of which one was elected and one was nominated by the Punjab government,” he reminded the members of Parliament from Punjab, and added, "All the states should be represented in the NMC as was the case in the MCl. However, the electoral process should be more democratic and with voting in person which can be physical or online.”
Mohindra pointed out that the introduction of this bill will make medical education very expensive and will deprive the under privileged students to an accessible and affordable medical education by allowing the private medical colleges to frame their own fee structure. This is because the commission can frame the fee structure of seats not exceeding 40% in private medical colleges thus leaving the fee structure of at least 60'h seats in the hands of management of private medical colleges (Page 7 Chapter 2 clause 10 sub clause 1(i).) The private medical colleges will fix the rates which will lead to harassment of the students. This bill is anti-people and will discourage the intelligent but not so rich students to enter this profession.
He further mentioned that the central government is planning to bring in non-medical persons to control such a sensitive body to regulate the allopathic medical profession and medical education in our country (Page 3 chapter 2 clause 2 of sub clause 4) "Chairperson shall be a person of outstanding ability....... possessing a post graduate degree in ANY discipline of medical sciences from any university. . ..".
According to him, rather than encouraging Ayurveda and other ancient medical sciences of our country, the central government is discouraging the professionals of Ayurveda to respectfully practice their own field by bringing in bridge courses. This bill will encourage crosspathy in this profession which is illegal and will ultimately be strongly harmful for the public. (Page 19 chapter 8 clause 49 subsection 1-4.)
"NMC bill in its present form is a pro private management bill paving the way for widespread corruption. As a result medical education in the country will become expensive placing the lower, middle and even upper middle socio-economic groups at a great disadvantage."
"It will in a way damage the already dying branch of Ayurveda which is just confined to Kerala and Maharashtra and encouraged by Ayuvedic institutes in Kerala and B[IU. this will ultimately destroy the age old traditional medicine branches of our country which is acknowledged and respected world over. I f-eel the central government should encourage more research in the fields of Ayurveda and other ancient medical sciences of our country. Lately the central government had made an effort to promote Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy by forming separate Department and Ministry of AYUSH. 'This bill in its present form will defeat the very purpose of promoting and encouraging these systems of medicine.”
Punjab Health Minister further claimed that the concept of exit or licentiate exam is also discriminatory as it does not exist in any other profession (Page 8 chapter 4 clause l5 sub clause 1-5.) This test will be considered as shifting of the responsibility of medical education from the staff of private Medical colleges to the students. This will lead to further harassment of medical students in private medical colleges.
On the subject of Private Medical Colleges he pointed out that National Medical Commission bill in its present form is a pro private management bill paving the way for widespread corruption. As a result medical education in the country will become expensive placing the lower, middle and even upper middle socio-economic groups at a great disadvantage because the private medical colleges will be fixing their own fees of 60% seats and huge loopholes in the form of heavy financial penalties will open floodgates of corruption (page 12, clause 26 sub clause l(f).)
Brahm Mohindra also objected that apart from non-representation of state of Punjab in NMC, the Punjab Medical council and other state medical councils which are sovereign bodies through enactment of state legislatures shall lose their autonomy and will come directly under NMC. (page 13, chapter 5, clause 30, sub-clause 1,2.)
According to him this bill will encourage crosspathy by bringing in bridge course for AYUSH practitioners which is illegal and will ultimately be strongly harmful for the public and endanger the lives of patients (Page 19, chapter 8, clause 49, subsection 1-4.)
He also termed the bill Undemocratic as out of 25 members only 5 will be elected and the others will be nominated by the government. Further, as per the draft of the NMC bill majority of the members will be Non-medicos without any knowledge of the sensitivities of medical profession. According to Page 4, chapter 2, clause, sub-clause, 1 (a-f), only two experts from medical sciences will be represented in the search committee which shall appoint the chairperson, part time members and secretary.
Further as per page 7 Chapter 3 clause 11 sub-clause 1 (g) four members shall be from IIT, IIM and IIS which are Non-medicos while as per page 9 chapter 5 clause 16 sub-clause 1 (c,d) and clause 17 sub-clause 1-4 out of the two members each of the following boards one member will be from ANY discipline of medical sciences and second member will be Non-medico:
a. Medical assessment & rating board
b. Ethics and Medical Registration board
As per page 12 chapter 5 clause 28 sub-clause (l) these two boards have the power to grant permission for opening up of new medical colleges "no person shall establish a new medical college without obtaining prior permission of the Medical assessment and rating board" thus empowering one non medico and other medico from ANY field of medical science. This will open the flood gates of corruption.
"NMC bill is against the poor and is pro rich and pro private managements of private medical colleges. A medical Bill without the concurrence of the medical professionals will be a disaster. I will appeal to your good self to bring this to the notice of the central government, raise your voice against the oppressive clauses of this bill and strongly oppose this bill” wrote Brahm Mohindra to the members of parliament from Punjab.
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