The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Doll-up to pass medical muster

The race is on to put on the make-up and strike a pose for the valued visitor.

Some walls have been pulled down, books are being brought in to stuff the departmental libraries and a building belonging to an adjoining institution could be passed off as a girls’ hostel under construction.

Welcome to the latest round of tamasha that visits from the Medical Council of India (MCI) have been reduced to in Bengal. Desperately seeking more under-graduate seats to rake in the moolah from cash-rich NRIs, the state health department is now trying to do in less than a week what it has failed to do in three years in “do-it-now” Bengal.

“The date has not been finalised, but the visit could come as early as this week itself,” said director of medical education Chittaranjan Maity.

The department, it is learnt, is trying to “push back” by a few days the visit by the MCI team — initially scheduled to arrive on Wednesday — to inspect the University College of Medicine’s preparedness to teach under-graduate students. The last inspection two months ago had resulted in a scathing report, officials admitted, justifying the sudden set-it-right flurry.

But all that this has done is to create a few gaping holes on the ground floor housing the anatomy department of the University College of Medicine. Stretches of the wall along both sides of the corridor have been pulled down. This, explained officials, makes the classrooms bigger, while effectively reducing their number to half.

“One of the points raised in the last MCI report referred to the crammed classrooms, particularly in the anatomy and physiology departments,” explained a senior state health department official.

There are other grand plans to make an impression. With the departmental libraries not exactly brimful with books, there are plans to bring down many more from the central library. Then, there is the building belonging to SSKM Hospital on the same campus, planned to accommodate relatives of patients staying the night. University College of Medicine insiders said teachers are now being sounded out on whether this building can be showcased to the inspection team as a girls’ hostel.

Teachers have another reason to be peeved. “We are fed up with the authorities arranging for flower-pots and vases every time an MCI team comes here to inspect the infrastructure,” one of them said. “Why don’t they make a sincere effort to improve the facilities instead'”

The tamasha, officials admitted, started in 2000 when the government first asked the MCI whether it could take in 100 under-graduate students in the University College of Medicine every year. Three years have passed since the MCI made some specific recommendations, but almost nothing has been done.

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