Seniority: Policy or Politics
Common Vs Separate
In the year 2006 the government of J&K decided to adopt Separate Seniority mechanism for the doctors working in the two Government Medical Colleges at Jammu, and Srinagar. This was done to do way with the problems that had surfaced post-1990; there were cases in which some doctors, taking advantage of the prevailing conditions of security in Kashmir, got themselves transferred from GMC, Srinagar to GMC, Jammu. In the process not just the doctors but the posts they were working against went along, from GMC Srinagar to GMC, Jammu. Gradually it was felt that the human resource at one College is petering away resulting in the lowering of standards, besides multiple problems in the functioning of the College. But just after some years government is contemplating revision of the earlier decision. The impression being sent out is that the fallouts of the Separate Seniority mechanism have forced this change of mind. However, there are many who feel that the revision is being conducted under the influence of some people who wish to move from GMC, Srinagar to GMC, Jammu but cannot, till the Separate Seniority mechanism is in place. What is the truth of the matter and how do the two ways of framing the seniority lists impact the medical colleges at Jammu and Srinagar, Altaf Khan talked to many relevant persons piecing together the various responses in this story.
Prior to 2006 the seniority of the faculty at the two government medical colleges in the state, one at Srinagar and another at Jammu, was determined jointly. The seniority, and the subsequent promotions, would include the faculty at both the colleges. That means the two colleges were considered as one administrative unit. This policy was termed as Common Seniority.
However, in the post 1990 situation in the state, the policy of Common Seniority was found to be working to the disadvantage of the Government Medical College, Srinagar. This initiated an effort from the concerned people at the College to impress upon the state administration to change the Common Seniority policy. Why the Common Seniority Policy was considered harmful to the interests of the GMC, Srinagar is, according to many doctors here, based on facts.
Putting together what different doctors in GMC, Srinagar had to say, it comes to this:
Taking advantage of the Common Seniority policy, some doctors from GMC, Jammu got themselves transferred to GMC, Srinagar, sensing that that chances of promotion here are more. Once promoted, they left the valley on the pretext of security concerns. Similarly those from Jammu who were already working at GMC, Srinagar, applied for transfers producing the same excuse of security threat. What accentuated the crisis was that not only the persons got transferred to GMC, Jammu, but the posts also got shifted. This depleted the staff strength of the GMC, Srinagar, and damaged the prospect of the College in the long term with the absence of many posts.
Later in the process, many senior faculty members who could be promoted to the higher positions lying vacant, continued working on the lower positions as the posts had been transferred to the GMC, Jammu. It, on the one hand, damaged the prospect of the individual faculty, and on the other hand, diminished the standards of the College as there were no adequate Professors, Asst. Professors and Associate Professors. The dearth of the senior faculty meant that the intake capacity for PG courses came down. Students from Kashmir had to apply for PG courses outside as a result of this. The cumulative effect of all this was the worst kind of “stagnation” in the GMC, Srinagar, underlines Dr Mufti Mehmood, executive member and Ex. Gen. Secretary, Medical Faculty Association, Srinagar. Dr Mufti Mehmood goes on to point out that this condition was responsible for the decision of Medical Council of India (MCI) to derecognize some of the department at GMC, Srinagar.
These were the factors that instilled a sense of urgency in the faculty at GMC, Srinagar that they pushed for the change in the policy of determining seniority and effecting promotions. This finally led to the decision by the government in 2006, that henceforth there will be separate seniority lists for the two colleges and the recruitments for the two shall also be done separately. Doctors at GMC, Srinagar believe that once the Separate Seniority Policy was put in place, it helped in restoring the standards of the GMC, Srinagar. To the extent that MCI had to re-recognize the courses that were earlier derecognized. If this be the case, why is government contemplating reversal of the earlier decision! This is the question that is being very loudly asked by the faculty at GMC, Srinagar. Though we do have some who think that by bifurcating the two Colleges the elements of responsibility and competition get compromised; a Kashmiri doctor working at GMC, Jammu, on the condition of anonymity even went to the extent of saying that “if the Common Seniority Policy is not restored it would lead to the eventual collapse of the system.” However, there is a strong sense of displeasure among the faculty at GMC, Srinagar.
Medical Teachers Association has expressed its displeasure in writing and has categorically stated that if the Govt. doesn’t take its proposal back, Srinagar based doctors will go for mass resignation. Former Principal Medical College Dr Shahida Mir also differs with the provisions of Common Seniority Policy; “Seniority has to be separate. Most of our courses got recognized during the period of Common Seniority Policy. So why go back to the former policy; by doing that they actually want to benefit some blue eyed people.” Dr Shahida’s apprehensions are shared by most of the doctors working here.
Senior Faculty members at Government Medical College, Srinagar smell rat in the proposed policy. Dr Nazir Ahmad Salroo, President Medical Faculty Association GMC, Srinagar points out that “after their posting in Srinagar, doctors from Jammu would soon put forth security reasons and return to Jammu. And this they would do not before taking the posts that belong to GMC, Srinagar, along with them.” Spokesperson Doctors Association of Kashmir Dr Mir Mushtaq Ahmad also expressed similar thoughts.
Interestingly Medical Teachers Association, Jammu has also expressed its resentment over the Common seniority policy. President Medical Teachers Association, Jammu Dr Tariq Azad says, “People mostly belonging to schedule caste category are running a campaign for common seniority and have got some people from higher echelons in their ranks. Some policy makers have been influenced by them to get the decision in their favour. This common seniority is certainly not in favour of Medical Colleges either in Jammu or Srinagar. Some vested interests are making it a national issue to ruin the Medical Education sector in the state.”
Medical Teachers Association Jammu has already had a meeting with the Chief Minister to put its suggestions across, who thereafter set up a committee to come up with recommendations for or against the Common Seniority Policy. The committee is meeting on 7th of September to take a stand on the issue.
When asked about the Government stand on this issue, Minister for Medical Education R S Chib said; “Though Common Seniority could be best for integrity of the State and has better prospects for administration in the field of Medical Education, but we are taking the arguments of the Medical Associations into consideration, before deciding on this issue.”
Principal Government Medical College, Srinagar Dr Qazi Masood seemed to be sharing the apprehension of the doctors in Srinagar: “We have also made our stand clear to the Government about the advantages and disadvantages of both the systems; obviously separate seniority has more advantages than disadvantages. Now it is up to the govt. to decide what is in the interest of the state.” Though he disagrees with the view that Doctors take away the posts along with them at the time of transfer always, but he accepts that it is true in some cases. Dr Masood also doesn’t find it too advantageous situation for the Jammu based doctors. When asked about his opinion on this matter, he was unequivocal: “Let it remain separate, we don’t have any problem in Separate Seniority”.
“People coming from outside desirous of serving the people wholeheartedly are welcome. But the things have been contrary to that. With the result mother of medical institutes in the valley, GMC, Srinagar, has remained far behind the institutes which came into being much later”, says Director SKIMS Dr Showket Ali Zargar.
The upshot of the matter is that medical education and the medical facilities to the common people should be at the heart of policy making and not the politics.
Lastupdate on : Tue, 6 Sep 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 6 Sep 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 7 Sep 2011 00:00:00 IST
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