Mental cradle hunts for a head - Puzzling eligibility criteria leave Rinpas without regular director for 6 years

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  • Published 28.06.13

Serious brainstorming, it seems, is needed to find out why doctors shy away from medical services in Jharkhand. Otherwise, a premier mental health institute in Ranchi would not have remained without a full-time chief for the past six years.

An advertisement for the post of director at Ranchi Institute of Neuro-Psychiatry and Allied Science (Rinpas) was published on May 23, with June 10 being fixed as the last date of application. Only two candidates applied.

Realising that an interview could not be fairly conducted with frugal options, the health department extended the deadline till July 10. If sources are to be believed, till June 27, the number of applicants had not even increased by one.

Joint secretary (health) Vinod Kumar Mishra, who is in charge of Rinpas operations, could not fathom why more candidates were not applying for the post.

“The post has an excellent pay scale (Rs 37,400 to Rs 67,000). It is very difficult to understand why people are not applying. We have extended the date because we want at least five to six persons to appear for the interview. Let us see what happens this time,” he said.

Rinpas’s hunt for an “eligible candidate” began in 2007 after Brigadier (retd) P.K. Chakraborty vacated the coveted chair. The first advertisement was published in June that year and six people applied.

Unfortunately, a controversy kicked up because the post was erroneously mentioned as ‘mental health specialist’ instead of ‘psychiatrist’. Later, the desired educational qualifications were modified to make matters far more complicated.

Then director of Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) N.N. Agarwal ran operations at Rinpas for sometime. The mental cradle saw a couple of acting directors like Ashok Prasad and A.K. Nag thereafter, while incumbent acting director Amool Ranjan joined in December 2010.

And, all the department of health religiously did was publish advertisements for the post every year.

One was brought out in October last year. The ad saw four applicants. None except incumbent Amool Ranjan was shortlisted. So, the department decided not to hold an interview. In 2011, too, no one made the cut except him.

Citing the reason behind no candidate being on the final list, insiders said that the academic qualification sought for the director’s post was “too complex to fit any particular individual”.

According to the advertisement, the Rinpas director should be a postgraduate (MD/DNB) in psychiatry from a recognised institution, an MPhil in M&SP/clinical psychology with PhD in clinical psychology or MPhil in psychiatric social work with PhD in psychiatric social work from reputable cradles. And, he or she should have relevant experience.

Confusion prevails on whether both medical qualification in psychiatry and PhD in clinical psychology are mandatory or either would do. To be on the safe side, the selection committee looks for both and, hence, fails to zero in on a suitable candidate.

On whether he was aware of the hitch in appointing him as a regular director, acting Rinpas boss Amool Ranjan feigned ignorance. “I have put in my best efforts to take the institute to new heights. All I know is that as long as I will be here, I will do the cradle good.”

What if Rinpas failed to get itself a director?

Joint secretary (health) Mishra could not say whether the ad ritual would continue.

Should the eligibility criteria be revised before another ad? Tell