Interview with Dr Ajay Kumar, board member, National Board of Examination (NBE)
Pankaj Kumar | August 10, 2016
Dr Ajay Kumar, a noted urologist from Bihar who has been a member of the Medical Council of India (MCI) and chairman of its grievance redressal cell, has been named a board member of the National Board of Examinations (NBE). The body is entrusted with the task of conducting entrance exam for medical postgraduate and super-specialty courses. He is also heading the ethics committee at WMA and served as the president of the Indian Medical Association (IMA). Thanks to his close ties with infamous Dr Ketan Desai, controversies are never far from him. In a frank interaction with Pankaj Kumar, Dr Kumar responds to some of the accusations.
As the member of NBE how do you aim to contribute towards its growth?
I am a performer and wherever I get an opportunity I act positively. After an initial evaluation of the system along with my colleagues, I shall find a role for myself to contribute in the smooth functioning and further development of the NBE.
How were you selected for this position? Does your affinity with Dr Ketan Desai has any role in it?
You should ask the government. They asked me to send my CV. The next thing I knew was notification of my membership to the NBE. If my friend Dr Desai is so powerful to influence the decision of the government, then I am proud of him.
Your proximity with Dr Desai has always been surrounded by controversies. Your comments?
Ketan has been my friend for the last three decades. We met as two urologists in a conference and it was an instant bonding. We are friends till date and I find myself lucky to have Ketan not only as my friend but as philosopher and guide. The more you get to know him, the more you love and appreciate him.
You had told the World Medical Association (WMA) that the CBI had dropped all charges against Dr Desai even though there were two cases pending against him.
I have told the truth and nothing but the truth to the WMA about the current situation of Dr Desai, which was supported by documents and accepted by the world body of doctors. The records of the proceedings are at the WMA secretariat. Those who are distorting the facts should come out with evidence to substantiate their claims.
The Delhi high court has termed the MCI as a “den of corruption”. Do you think the MCI has lost its bearings and should be dismantled?
The Delhi high court had called the MCI a “den of corruption”. There have been mutterings in different courts by outspoken, high-handed judges. The supreme court till date has never given any judgment in which they have found fault in our functioning. Yes, the apex court had appointed a monitoring committee in 2002 to look into the functioning of the MCI which stayed for six and a half years and submitted three reports to the supreme court. In the reports they clearly stated that no fault in the functioning of the MCI was found. I do not see any loss of function or purpose of the MCI. It is within the government’s purview to ameliorate the regulatory authority, but it cannot demolish it.
People for Better Treatment president Dr Kunal Saha alleges you are hand in glove with Dr Desai in ‘hijacking’ MCI.
I don’t understand why the media is giving so much importance to this NRI psychiatrist from the USA. He has been reprimanded at several occasions by the high courts and the supreme court for unnecessarily interfering and poking his nose into matters which do not concern him. I would not like to comment on such an insignificant person’s views.When one is in the public eye such people keep popping up.
Nevertheless, we have more important work to carry on.
Dr SK Sarin, who headed MCI’s board of governors when Dr Desai’s licence was cancelled in 2010, is part of the committee constituted to examine the MCI’s functioning. Do you think the committee would be fair?
The MCI in general and myself in particular welcome this committee. We are happy to be scrutinised yet again and as many times as is warranted. A lot of public perception and the cloud over the MCI will be cleared. It is the prerogative of the supreme court to appoint whomsoever they want. I can only say that Dr Sarin was an utter failure when he headed the board of governors (BoG), which was constituted after supersession of the MCI, and was replaced by Dr Talwar a year after.
Any hard feelings for not becoming the chairman of MCI last time even though you were the only one supporting Dr Desai in 2010 after his arrest?
The MCI is a body constituted by the government of India from different constituencies mentioned in the MCI Act of 1956. The members of the MCI elect a president. Dr Jayshreeben Mehta was elected unanimously to the post. I am working in close association with her for the smooth functioning of the MCI. Dr Ketan Desai is not even a member of the MCI, and it is unfair to drag his name into the affairs of the MCI.
(The interview appears in the August 1-15, 2016 issue)
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