The government’s decision to bring the city and other medical colleges under the single umbrella of a medical university has cast a cloud over the S.N. Pradhan Centre For Studies in Neuro-sciences.
The Pradhans, who began their journey from Calcutta Medical College and are now an NRI couple based in Washington, had set up a Rs 1.5-crore endowment for neuro-sciences research two years ago with Calcutta University (CU). The MoU, signed between the Pradhans and CU, said the medical faculty of the varsity would control the Centre, to be housed in the University College of Medicine (UCM).
Now, the setting up of the West Bengal University for Health Sciences by the government threatens the very existence of the Centre. Once the medical university begins to function, the faculty meant to control the Centre will cease to exist. Also, the UCM has been taken over by the government for setting up a new under-graduate medical college under the medical university. “The government is keen to ensure that the activities of the S.N. Pradhan Centre are not affected,” state health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra said on Thursday, insisting that “status of the Centre will remain the same”. But the minister failed to explain how it would be possible to retain the Centre’s status.
The S.N. Pradhan Centre was recently described as “superb” and the best of its kind in the country by members of the National Assessment and Accreditation Committee (NAAC), when it visited the city last year. In fact, this had contributed immensely towards CU bagging the five-star NAAC rating.
S.N. Pradhan, an MBBS from Calcutta Medical College, and his wife Sikta are reportedly “unhappy” over the developments and are “worried” about the fate of the Centre. “It (the Centre) is just two years old, but with constant help and guidance from the Pradhans, the scientists of our Centre have been able to pursue some excellent research work in neuro-toxins, neuro-genetics and neuro-physiology,” said Biswapati Mukherjee, executive director of S.N. Pradhan Centre.
“I am in constant touch with them in the US and if the present situation continues, they (the Pradhans) may withdraw their earlier promise to provide more funds for further development of the Centre,” added Mukherjee.
Researchers at the Centre, too, expressed “shock” over the government move. Mukherjee and his colleagues said they were “running from pillar to post to try and save the Centre”. CPM leaders, government officials and Governor Viren J. Shah have been petitioned. But to no avail.