Battle continues for non-medical profs facing discrimination; court hearing on-

While the case of the National MSc Medical Teachers’ Association (NMMTA) candidates is still pending in the Delhi High Court, non-medical individuals continue to face significant challenges in the workforce. They allege being terminated arbitrarily or deemed unfit for professor positions in medical colleges, which they describe as ‘academic apartheid.’ 

On October 31, the NMMTA association shared a screenshot on X (formerly Twitter) that highlighted the plight of an assistant professor of Microbiology. In their statement, they underscore the issue, stating, ”When the regulatory body itself practices academic apartheid as a policy, it emboldens non-clinical medicos to aggressively participate in it at their level….The government is more concerned with petty politics than with implementing reforms…We can only ask our members to stay hopeful.”

In the shared screenshot, an assistant professor pleads with NMMTA for assistance as the Head of the Department (HoD) at their institution has been making negative statements about them. When EdexLive reached out to the individual, they spoke anonymously, stating, “We have been responsible for delivering lectures, conducting practical labs, and handling emergency duties. However, the HoD consistently makes statements suggesting that MSc and PhD professors are unsuitable for microbiology and should be replaced by MDs.” They also emphasised their need for written guarantees to feel more secure in their jobs.”

Looking back at the issue
To recap, in 2020, the National Medical Commission (NMC) reduced the permissible percentage of non-medical teachers in medical colleges to 15% from the previous 50% in Biochemistry, 15% from 30% in Anatomy and Physiology, and entirely removed them from the earlier 30% limit in Pharmacology and Microbiology. Nevertheless, the notification included a clause stating that already employed candidates would not be affected. Dr Sridhar Rao, the former President of the NMMTA, claimed, “That is merely a saving clause. In practice, no one is adhering to it, and each college interprets these rules in their own way,” adding, “We lack godfathers to champion our cause, and our numbers are small, so the government is not inclined to act.”

The NMMTA has appealed previously, both to NMC and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, where the latter acknowledged their state and increased the reservation for MSc/PhD scholars from 15 to 30 per cent. Yet, the former president of NMMTA says that despite the Union Government having a final say on matters, the NMC did not follow the norms despite submitting an affidavit to the Delhi High Court. 

Furthermore, on August 1 of this year, the NMC revised and implemented the Competency-Based Medical Education Curriculum (CBME) Regulations for 2023. These regulations stipulate that non-MBBS degree holders teaching at medical colleges cannot serve as examiners. NMMTA General Secretary Dr Ayan Das states that this goes against the basic idea of the teaching-learning process, as it is a known fact that faculty members are appointed as examiners. He also points out that the NMC’s rules have dwindled job opportunities for faculties like him who cannot switch jobs due to the percentage reduction and are instead exploited in their current positions since they have no alternative.

The former President of NMMTA, Dr Rao, alleges that in an online meeting, the President of the UG board of NMC verbally instructed medical college deans and principals to exclude MSc and PhD candidates from teaching, even though this lacks a legal basis. “Ever since NMC introduced the new regulations, the plight of non-medical professors has only worsened, especially those in the Microbiology and Pharmacology departments. They are being terminated, especially if they were hired on a contractual basis, and they are facing discrimination,” he laments. 

As the NMMTA’s continue their court battle, the non-medical professors continue to face discrimination in their colleges. In a tweet, they state, “Our petition has been languishing in the Delhi High Court since 2020, thanks to the dysfunctional judicial system.” Their next hearing is tomorrow, November 9. 

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