AIIMS withdraws proposal to halt hiring of research scientists

With the release of the new order on July 10, the recruitment of young scientists will be in accordance with the old guidelines

The main entrance of AIIMS (photo: Sanjeev Verma/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
The main entrance of AIIMS (photo: Sanjeev Verma/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Ashlin Mathew

The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) administration has issued an order withdrawing its June 22 order in which the recruitment process of research project staff was put on hold with immediate effect.

With the release of the new order on Monday, July 10, the recruitment of young scientists will be in accordance with the old guidelines.

The office memorandum signed by the AIIMS director M. Srinivas states that the guidelines for recruitment of the project staff are being revised.

“As per inputs from many Principal Investigators, as a result of this many projects have not been able to function properly. According to PIs, this has led to disruption of smooth functioning of research projects and research output. PIs have emphasised that over 1,400 project employees and 665 extramural funded research projects are getting severely affected. Hence, till the revised guidelines are received for implementation, the order dated 22 July 2023 maybe be kept in abeyance,” reads the memo.

After the notice was announced, a member of the Society of Young Scientists (SYS) representing the researchers said this decision has come as a relief to the entire fraternity of the contractually employed project staff.

“However, even as we celebrate this positive step from the authorities, we have not lost sight of the bigger problem. The policymakers appear to be still formulating amendments. Our struggle is not over until fair and viable revisions are implemented. We will continue to strategically safeguard the best interests of our fraternity until needed,” said a representative of SYS. The person did not want to be identified.

SYS said that AIIMS should now allow resumption of joining formalities of project employees whose recruitment had been halted with no prior notice since mid-June 2023.

The June 22 order reportedly wanted to cap the maximum period of service for a project employee at three years, with no clause for prospective implementation. This was expected to lead to the immediate termination of several staff, including researchers and technical staff employed in various projects at AIIMS.

According to the SYS, the previous order would have impacted the careers of almost every PhD scholar, non-PhD researcher, and technical staff because the research arm at AIIMS functions on a largely project-based framework. The SYS stated that it was a hasty attempt to abolish the practice of auto-regularisation of employees upon completion of 15 years of service at AIIMS in accordance with a court order.

SYS had countered the previous order stating that the order was completely non-viable and should be revised. They pointed out that the directive it is a direct challenge to the sanctity of the entire scientific community and stated that it was horrifically unpropitious.

SYS had got the support of the Officers’ Association of AIIMS, the AIIMS Nurses Union, the Resident Doctors Association and Faculty Association of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (FAIMS). Last week, all of them had highlighted that the arbitrary order of stopping recruitment of research project staff citing review of recruitment guidelines at the Institute has created unrest among the faculty members and research scientists.

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