After the controversial Director of NEIGRIHMS was repatriated to his parent department, the Institute is left with a spare-tyre Director, the Head of Department, Anesthesiology. For NEIGRIHMS this is a case of, “from the frying pan into the fire. The care-taker director is being given charge for a period of 6 months by which time a new Director is expected to join. But this Acting Director wasted no time in agenda-setting. The first thing he did was to remove a senior Doctor from the post of Medical Superintendent and appointed a junior doctor in his place. The priority of this Acting Director is to place his loyalists in all important decision making positions with no respect for rules or normal practices and making sure he runs the show.
Initially he criticized the plasma therapy approved by Health Experts from the Government of India and got a befitting reply from the DHS, Government of Meghalaya for criticizing the antigen test. The question is, can one man run an organization where there are more qualified persons around? This institute is run like a privately owned hospital not a public utility, hence accountability does not exist.
The tenure of Deputy Director (Administration) ends in December 2020. This means that if everything goes as per schedule, by January 2021 this Institute will get a new Director and a DDA (unless the latter gets extension). The advertisement for the post of Director is already out but it is a mystery as to how the advertisement for the post of the Deputy Director had vanished. Surely something fishy is going on! Only time will tell.
For a while now NEIGRIHMS has been taken for a ride by whichever way the Director of the day wants and their wish is supreme. Several super specialist doctors have left during these past few years and the (dis)credit for this goes to the captain of the ship – the Director. The problem started with the appointment of an engineer as an administrator, a post advertised for appointment on deputation but the engineer working in the same institute as an executive engineer (civil) joined the post. The result? He has no capacity or appropriate qualification to checkmate the Director when it comes to government rules and procedures which is the principal role of the Deputy Director (Administration). Unfortunately for NEIGRIHMS the DDA is not only a ‘yes’ man of the Director, but, the man who also controls all purchases in the Institute and is known as the ‘GURU” is his chief adviser. The Guru was appointed as a Liaison Officer with the Ministry by none other than the Deputy Director who is also the Disbursement Officer. Now, when the Disbursement Officer and the Purchase man connive then the result is corruption. Though due care had been taken to cover the tracks of this arrangement, there is no perfect crime in this world.
There was a time when both these guys signed cheques when payment is made to suppliers and contractors. Really! Is this place an Institute of Excellence as someone rightly questioned?
The Shillong Times carried a report “CBI seeking Centre’s nod for NEIGRIHMS probe,” (Aug 10, 2020), as claimed by the ex-Director, Dr DM Thappa which was also confirmed by the CBI office in the city. I wonder if the CBI will also look into matters concerning the illegal activities flourishing in this Institute and endorsed by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Or are the “Babus” in the central government not accountable for this mess? Surely not all are accomplices to the crime! Dr Thappa also claimed that with the help of the Deputy Director a private pharmacy (Life Care Pharmacy) was established by shutting down an Institute run pharmacy. The truth is, there are many relatives of staff members who are doing business in NEIGRIHMS for a very long time by violating all the rules and guidelines of the government starting with the ‘Guru’ who single handedly controls all purchases amounting to crores of rupees annually. His own brother is the main link for suppliers to be able to do business in the Institution. His other cousin is a permanent staff in the Purchase section appointed under the shadow of his recommendation (of course signed/endorsed by a Committee). No, this is not coincidence and not all happening without the knowledge of the Administration.
Gone are the days where quality is considered a priority in this Institute. Now it’s a case of the cheapest one winning the contract. Suppliers and contractors walk around like kings, not only because they are well connected but in one way or another are relatives of staff working in the Institute. In a situation like this, fairness is the last word when it comes to winning a contract for supply or work.
As is always the case, evil prospers because the truth is silent. Bu the truth can no longer be hidden because this is the last chance for this Institute to come out of the black hole! AIIMS, Guwahati is expected to be fully operational in 2 to 3 years and then what will happen to NEIGRIHMS? Undoubtedly, our state and people will be the main losers. All AIIMS are under the PMSSY where they are directly controlled by the PMO. NEIGRIHMS is neither under PMSSY nor at par with AIIMS because no one bothers to build it. All are busy in building their own selves! In fact they are more serious in pursuing greater autonomy for the Institute which is the last thing NEIGRIHMS needs.
This Institute needs a Director who not only realizes that autocracy is dead in a democratic country but also a person who has a stake on this Institute; someone who not only has qualifications but a good character and personality and a leader who takes everyone along when it comes to building the Institution; a quality which the incumbent Director is lacking.
It was only during the time of Dr R K Sharma as Director that this institute went full throttle ahead. The reason is not his qualifications and experience, but because he is a resident of Shillong. As someone who really wants to see this Institute achieve higher levels of excellence, I humbly request all those who have a say in the functioning of NEIGRIHMS to keep personal ambitions aside; keep out religious and community feelings and work for the upliftment of NEIGRIHMS – the one of its kind Health Institution in the region till date.
All those who want to see this Institute grow, do pray that this time a positive change should come. This is a golden opportunity for Mr Toki Blah and other Governing Council members to get proactive and make sure that everyone gets the message that NEIGRIHMS belongs to the people, not to individuals. Our highly educated Chief Minister should realise that it’s a matter of pride for the State to have an Institute at par with other National Health Institutes which our local population trust.
When other states are pushing their candidates to the top post why can’t we have someone who really has a stake in this Institute and our local community as Director? Is it wrong to say that NEIGRIHMS is for Meghalaya first and then for others? Do something before it is too late because as we all know, opportunity doesn’t knock twice.
Name withheld on request,