National Medical Commission Bill: A conspiracy to undermine modern medical practice

The proposed bill states that Ayurveda practitioners and Hakims can pass a bridge course and practice modern medicine

Photo courtesy: Twitter
Photo courtesy: Twitter

Faraz Ahmad

While Prime Minister Narendra Modi was furtively attempting to win back his Hindutva constituency (including the upwardly mobile urban Hindu middle class, whom the Sangh has, over these last few decades , considerably succeeded in saffronising, but which appeared slightly disenchanted with Modi in the Gujarat Assembly elections), by bringing in the Triple Talaq Bill to show the insolent Muslim male his place in the Hindu Rashtra, his government slyly slipped in the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill, seeking to undermine modern medical profession in the country and with it the prospering career of doctors who till the other day swore by Modi.

On December 29, Union Health Minister JP Nadda introduced in Parliament the National Medical Commission Bill which seeks to replace the National Medical Council, formed under an Act of Parliament in 1956 with the stated objective of standardising modern medical education in India.

This Government has come, as Union Skill Development Minister Anath Kumar Hegde confessed publicly the other day, to demolish and destroy every institution and every remnant of the Congress rule in India or rather whatever Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and his successors did in India since Independence. The Medical Council of India is only one such institution.

But even more importantly, the Bill surreptitiously sneaks in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)/ BJP agenda starting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself who has tremendous aversion to intellect. Already the Modi Government has announced that it plans to allow Ayurveda Vaids, Hakims and even Homeopaths with some bridge course and issue licences to them to practise modern medicine. There is no dearth of quacks in this country. People with nursing and pharmacy course degrees and even peons in hospitals are donning the doctor’s white coat and, with a stethoscope around their neck, are happily killing gullible people giving them medicines at will, even performing operations in their ‘clinics.’

This Bill seeks to give a free run to persons with no study of modern medicine and surgery to do as they choose. Such was an uproar against this Bill from the doctors’ community all over the country that several MPs from BJP/NDA who are qualified doctors had to vocally oppose the Bill in Parliament and eventually the Government which had got it cleared from the Union Cabinet, had to step back and send it to the Standing Committee of the ministry to be reviewed thoroughly.

The idea of replacing the Medical Council with this Commission was conceived by the Niti Ayog where no doctor was involved in consultations, least of all deliberations. Obscurantists, bureaucrats and sundry others sat and conceived this Bill. But it is evident who could be behind this idea. After all when we have a Prime Minister and his party colleagues who proudly proclaim that the elephant head on Lord Ganesha is the evidence of how plastic surgery had advanced in India in the Vedic era, what respect such a set of people could have for anything genuinely modern? Thanks to the indoctrinaton at the shakhas, they genuinely believe that we were flying Pushpak Vimans across the universe.

Coming back to the Bill, doctors all over the country went on a one-day strike on the call of the apex body of doctors, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) and came out with serious criticism of the proposed NMC Bill on each count that the Bill proposed. This Bill proposes that the NMC shall create an Ethics and Medical Registration (EMR) Board along with a Medical Assessment and Rating (MAR) Board as also two other bodies Undergraduate Medical Examination (UGME) Board and a PGME Board to assess post-graduate medical examination.

IMA pointed out that Section 31(8) of the Bill says that the EMR Board shall maintain a separate National Register including the names of licensed Ayush Practitioners who qualify the bridge course. By an explanation in the Bill, Ayush practitioner has been defined as a person who is a practitioner of Homeopathy or of Indian Medicine. Section 49(4) contemplates bridge courses even for the practitioners of homeopathy “to enable them to prescribe such modern medicines at such level as may be prescribed.”

IMA pointed out that Section 2(j) of the Bill states: ‘medicine means modern scientific medicine in all its branches and include surgery and obstetrics but does not include veterinary medicine and surgery.’ Thank Modi for small mercies otherwise RSS Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat would have been heading this NMC for he is a qualified vet. IMA pointed out that these are the floodgates that have been opened up in terms of the statutory provisions for backdoor entry into medical profession, entitling the uneducated and untrained to practise modern medicine.

This is only one glaring example of what this government proposes to do by abolishing the MCI and creating NMC instead. But that is not all. It also seeks to use its discretion to allow all those who have studied abroad, say in Russia, China, Nepal or in one of the Central Asian Republics, to practise medicine in India without going through the currently mandatory examination in India. On the other hand, doctors with MBBS and MD/MS degrees would have to undergo yet another test set by the UGME or the PGME Boards as the case may be, without which their MBBS or MD/MS degree would not entitle them to practise medicine.

This shows a degree of hostility towards qualified doctors. Perhaps that is why there is hardly any representation of the doctors from elected bodies in the Commission or its many bodies whereas it is going to be full of bureaucrats and other government nominees.

The stated objective is to end corruption allegedly being indulged in by the MCI. True that former MCI President Dr Ketan Desai was arrested for allegedly accepting bribe for allowing opening of a private medical college. But then this Bill gives even more leeway to private medical colleges keeping the government’s regulation only at 40 per cent allowing 60 per cent discretion to the college, be it in the matter of admission or deciding on fees. Thus it will keep the poorer or not so rich children away from entering the medical profession. In fact, IMA pointed out that the provision of this Bill are highly discriminatory towards poorer people and children coming from backward backgrounds.

Recently a judge was charged with involvement in giving recognition to a private medical college. That person has been arrested but simultaneously another scam broke involving some senior TV journalists, top leaders of the ruling party as well as people from the Health ministry. The matter was hushed up, but not before the journalists concerned were made to quit their jobs. But then this so-called anti-corruption party has successfully covered up the Vyapam scam in Madhya Pradesh which ruined the career of thousands of young boys and girls aspiring to enter the MBBS course. However, the top brass of the MP government and the RSS, many of whose names also figure in that scam have gone scot free. The NMC Bill may now make all that legal and above the board.

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