Leisure, Lifestyle & Wellness
Now 'ghost' teachers haunt medical colleges!
Medical science may not believe in the ghost stories but unethical practices adopted by private medical colleges and unscrupulous doctors in the region have put a big question mark on the standard of education being imparted and the kind of doctors being churned out by these institutions.
 
With 436 'ghost' teachers being discovered by the Punjab Medical Council (PMC) during its recent inspection of four private medical colleges in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, a major controversy has erupted about the unethical practices adopted by these colleges and doctors.
 
The PMC team found that the 436 doctors, most of whom were practising in Punjab, were simultaneously serving four medical colleges: MM (Maharishi Markandeshwar) Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, Mullana (Ambala-Haryana/240 doctors); MM Medical College and Hospital, Kumarhatti (Himachal Pradesh/84 doctors), Gian Sagar Medical College and Hospital, Banur (Punjab/64 doctors) and Adesh Institute of Medical Sciences, Bathinda (Punjab/48 doctors).
 
The doctors were shown on records of these institutions as faculty members on well-paid jobs even without taking any classes. The PMC inspection revealed that one of the doctors who was heading an institution's own ethics committee figured in the list of ghost teachers.
 
Medical Council of India (MCI) guidelines clearly stipulate that part-time and guest faculty cannot be engaged for regular classes in medical colleges.
 
Faced with this embarrassing revelation, the PMC has initiated the process to suspend or cancel the registration of the doctors.
 
"We are issuing show-cause notices to the concerned doctors. Action will follow, based on their replies. If they are actually teaching in these institutes in other states, they will have to be de-listed from the PMC," PMC president G.S. Grewal told IANS.
 
The PMC has received complaints that the doctors who were shown as faculty members in colleges in three states were running their private health clinics, hair therapy clinics, cosmetic therapy clinics and even offering treatment for heart ailments.
 
The department of medical education and research in Punjab has initiated an investigation into the findings of the PMC team.
 
"There is a tendency among some medical colleges, which are mere teaching shops, to show doctors as their regular faculty whereas these people may have never even visited these institutions. Everyone is making a fast buck in all this mess. The kind of doctors that these medical colleges produce is anyone's guess," a senior faculty member at Patiala's Government Medical College told IANS.
 
Students pay hefty amounts, running in lakhs of rupees, to get admission to these medical colleges.

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Legalising e-rickshaws in Delhi: Hindrances persist
For Harish, being able to ply his e-rickshaw on the roads of the national capital without any hindrance from law is still a far cry.
 
As the sole bread winner of his family, Harish, a father of five, says he has to "grease the palm" of the authorities to be allowed to run his battery-operated rickshaw on certain stretches in the city.
 
"Though the Delhi government has agreed to regulate e-rickshaws and provide us licences to ply on the roads, they have also introduced several norms which have made the process lengthy and expensive," Harish, who belongs to Madhubani in Bihar, told IANS.
 
"I bought my e-rickshaw after taking loan from a money lender. Now shelling out some Rs.30,000 more to get my e-rickshaw on the road is not possible for me. So I have to bribe the authorities to ply my e-rickshaw," Harish said. Thousands of e-rickshaw owners and drivers face the same problem and describe the registration and validation process as lengthy and expensive.
 
Jai Bhagwan Goel, chairperson, Battery Rickshaw Sangh (BRS), says that after months of uncertainty, to make the plying of e-rickshaws official the Delhi government started the process of licensing and registration through facilitation camps.
 
Parliament approved the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2015, with the Rajya Sabha passing it on March 11. The Lok Sabha passed the bill last week. The bill that replaces an ordinance aims at bringing e-rickshaws and e-carts under the ambit of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1957, so that they can ply across the country.
 
Following this, the Delhi government asked owners to register their battery-operated rickshaws under the Delhi Motor Vehicle Act. The transport department organised special camps for issuing learners licenses, PSV (Public Service Vehicle) badges and registration of e-rickshaws at the 13 transport offices across the capital.
 
The authorities had said they would issue permanent licences 10 days after issuing a learner's licence. Now this period has been increased to a month and the licence would be issued after police verification.
 
"Till now 21,000 people have applied for registration. The Transport department has sent the details to the respective police stations for verification, which has not yet started. Verifying 21,000 people and issuing them licence will certainly take much time," Goel told IANS.
 
Getting a permanent licence is not the end of the problem. They have to get a clearance certificate for the vehicle from the transport department, which can be procured only after modifying the e-rickshaws in tune with the models cleared by International Center for Automotive Technology (ICAT), he added.
 
To ensure the safety of passengers and the vehicle, ICAT has asked for certain modifications in the e-rickshaws, including introduction of a chassis number, changing the headlight, indicators, taillight, battery, rim and tyre, wiring and horn. ICAT has also asked for installing a valid number plate with a light on it.
 
"These modifications have made the e-rickshaws costlier. One will have to shell out Rs.32,000 for these modifications, including the changing of the battery. Every e-rickshaw driver cannot afford this," said Goel, adding that the government should arrange for providing loans to e-rickshaw owners to get the modifications done.
 
The lack of a proper policy on e-rickshaws has led to the mushrooming of these vehicles on Delhi's roads, estimated to number more than 100,000. The popular e-rickshaws have, in fact, edged out cycle rickshaws.
 
"They have overtaken cycle rickshaws in popularity and are giving stiff competition to auto rickshaws. A proper policy, though, is required," rickshaw puller Anantram Pasi in Chandni Chowk told IANS.
 
Gurmeet Singh, part of another association of e-rickshaws, said most parts of the vehicle were imported from China and put together by local manufacturers. "It is an environment-friendly option and needs to be promoted. We have nothing against being registered, but we want the government to provide us with certain benefits like other transport unions get," Gurmeet Singh told IANS.
 
"For a low-cost mode of transport the returns are very low; so there is a need to ensure safety. People have just ensured mobility but safety is a precursor to mobility. The vehicle's structure can be improved through research efforts," Sudipto Mukherjee, professor of mechanical engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi, told IANS.
 
Special Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Muktesh Chandra said that it would be a welcome move if e-rickshaws were operated in a regulated way. "We have provided to the transport department the list of routes where they should ply in the city. Such vehicles should be kept away from the high-speed corridors. There should now be no problem with e-rickshaws while having trained drivers for this mode of transport," Chandra told IANS.
 
"E-rickshaws cannot ferry more than four passengers and 40 kg luggage at one time. It may work tremendously well as feeder services in certain areas. To ensure safety of passengers overloading will not be allowed at any cost," he added.

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30,000 elderly haven't got pension in East Delhi
Facing a financial crunch, the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) has not paid monthly pension of Rs.1,000 to over 30,000 elderly people under the Old Age Pension Scheme since March 2013, the Delhi High Court has been informed.
 
The East Delhi civic body told a division bench of Justice B.D. Ahmed and Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva that due to the financial crunch it has also not paid the salaries of its officials and staff.
 
"The total number of pensioners under Old Age Pension Scheme is 30,816 and of them, 30,610 have received the pension up to March 31, 2013," EDMC said in its affidavit in the court.
 
The agency's response came after the bench asked it to file a status report while hearing a PIL filed by an NGO, Social Jurist, accusing it of stopping the pension of nearly 45,000 people, including the disabled, widows and the elderly under the scheme.
 
The court asked the civic body to file an affidavit stating the number of people entitled to receive pension under the scheme and the number actually receiving the pension.
 
In its response, the civic body claimed it had not stopped the pensions.
 
"EDMC has never stopped from its end, once the pension is allowed under the scheme to eligible persons," it said, adding: "However, pension is not paid to those who have expired or who have shifted their address without informing about the new address and/or have started receiving the pension from Delhi government (Delhi government pays Rs.1,500 per month, Rs.500 more than the corporation)."
 
Asking the court to dismiss the plea, EDMC said: "The Old Age Pension, under the scheme, was last paid on March 31,2013; therefore, the contention of the petitioner society that the pension was not paid since long is based on imagination."
 
"The EDMC is facing financial crunch due to which the salary of its officials/staff is not paid and this problem was raised even before union home minister by the mayor and commissioner of EDMC. The minister has assured to help," it added.
 
The civic body said the PIL is not maintainable as the "distribution of Old Age Pension is (a liability) upon the corporation which is subject to the availability of funds, apart from the obligatory functioning of the EDMC."
 
The PIL, filed through advocate Ashok Agarwal and Khagesh Jha, termed the denial of pension as a violation of fundamental rights.
 
Agarwal termed the EDMC action "arbitrary and illegal".

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