Most of India's health ministers have been unable to resist the allure of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and the present health minister, Anbumani Ramadoss , is no different, in fact only worse in this matter. His inability to honor the institutes' autonomy seems to be particularly acute.
Ramadoss has used AIIMS as a site for variegated assertions, the most recent one being the photo opportunity during the countrywide doctors' anti-reservation agitation where dressed in his white coat he was seen attending to one visibly bemused woman. The only point he seems to have made is underlining his party, the PMK's political agenda. Finally the diktat has jgone out, doctors who struck work will have salary cuts in their pay packet. Ramadoss seems to have made his point clear - autonomy is something even elite institutions like AIIMS enjoy only at the minister's pleasure.
AIIMS Director P. Venugopal and Ramadoss have had sharp differences of opinion on the manner of faculty appointments. According to the director four senior officials including the dean, have been replaced without him even being consulted. The minister says that he is only attempting to improve matter through such interventions.
Venugopal's worries about institutional autonomy, in fact, bring to light the problem, which ails AIIMS. From the time of its establishment in 1952, AIIMS has always been the leader in medical education, research and referral services. However the recent years has seen AIIMS a few steps behind with patient overload and resource crunch. In addition increased politicization and interference has caused AIIMS to lose its former glory. Ramadoss's current intrusion is a perfect example.