Politics to blame on IGICH dir appointment U-turn: Docs

The Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health has been without a permanent head for a year

The state government has hastily withdrawn the advertisement for the director's post at the Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health, which is without a permanent head for a year. 

Dr Sanjay K S has been the acting director of the institute. The medical education department released the advertisement for the post on November 2, but withdrew it on November 8, citing "administrative reasons" for the U-turn. Doctors in the know of things, however, said there is more to this than what meets the eye. 

Speaking to DH, director of the medical education department Dr P G Girish said the advertisement was withdrawn to clear the way for new bylaws. He assured that it will be reissued once the government registers the new regulations. 

"The institute is governed by old bylaws that stipulate the retirement age as 62 for the director and allow doctors from anywhere in the country to apply. The institute's governing council decided to reduce the retirement age to 60 and allow candidates below 58 to apply. Otherwise, they'll retire within a year of appointment,” Dr Girish explained. 

He added that the decision was also taken to limit the application to the existing staff of the institute. "Each institute has adequate eligible candidates. It's only fair to give them an opportunity," he said. 

'Political pressure'

Asked why the decision was not made before releasing the advertisement, a senior paediatrician, requesting anonymity, attributed it to political pressure. 

"Why did they change (the bylaws) in such a hurry? The governing council's actions have been suspicious. Though the current government is supposed to constitute a governing council, members appointed by the previous coalition government continue to be on the board. While it may not sound logical, it appears that they are pushing for a politically motivated appointment," the senior doctor said, adding, "Dr Sanjay's appointment was also politically motivated." 

Dr Sanjay was appointed in June to replace the previous acting director, Dr Girish. 

Documents available with DH reveal that Dr Sanjay is third in seniority and was brought to the position sidelining other seniors in the institute. The institute is yet to have a full-time director after Dr Asha Benakappa, the daughter of the institute's founder Dr D G Benakappa, retired in October 2018. 

Sources in the institute also revealed that it has been functioning without an administrative officer. "This is the largest children's hospital in the country. No proper appointment has been made. The government must look into this issue immediately," said another doctor in the hospital. 

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