All is not well with Indian Board of Alternative Medicine
FACT CHECK The Medical Council of India has, in response to an RTI, informed the Central Information Commission that IBAM’s degrees are not valid
The gover nment i s giving a bi g push t o al t e r native medicine systems through its ministry of AYUSH – an acronym for Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy. However, the the Indian Board of Alternative Medicine ( IBAM), Kolkata, which promotes such systems, does not have the approvals to teach medicine.
This has been revealed by the Medical Council of India (MCI), the regulatory body for teaching medicine. It has informed the Central Infor mation Commission that the degrees awarded by IBAM are not valid. MCI was responding to an RTI asking for clarity on the qualifications of doctors from IBAM.
Yashovardhan Azad, Central Information Commissioner, has said, “This is a matter of grave concern since public health is at high risk owing to these practitioners who have no proper knowledge or training to render medical assistance. In view of the “seriousness of the issue”, Azad said, the commission wanted its concerns to be communicated to the secretary, ministry of health and family welfare for immediate action to curb this practice which is posing a threat to public health.
To teach medicine, institutes need the approvals of one of the three regulatory bodies – MCI for modern medicine; and Central Council of Indian Medicine (CCIM) and Central Council of Homoeopathy (CCH) for alternative medicine.
Higher education regulator UGC has listed IBAM as a “fake university” on its website. MCI, which gives the approvals for medical courses such as bachelors of medicine, surgery etc, says IBAM has no authority to award any medical qualification. CCH hasn’t approved IBAM courses in homoeopathy either.
And CCIM, which sets standards for teaching Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Sowa Rigpa, says that IBAM’s courses don’t conform to their standards. “Doctors produced by IBAM are incompetent and a risk to people’s lives, but no government authority has taken any action against it,” alleges Ved Prakash Tyagi, president, CCIM. “They practice in rural areas where people are not so literate to question their qualifications.”
No action has been taken against the Board. As a matter of fact, its website states it has support from the Dalai Lama, Rev. Desmond Tutu, Queen Elizabeth II and UN secretary generals. “The Board’s conferences have been widely acclaimed and attended by Mother Teresa, Union and state ministers, chief justices, judges and diplomats besides leading lights in the field of health and medicine from over fifty countries worldwide,” it says.
Speaking to this correspondent, Sushil Kumar Agarwal, CEO of IBAM, says his institute is registered under the Society Registration Act (An act for the registration of literary, scientific and charitable societies) and he doesn’t need approvals from regulatory bodies.
However, in India, education laws do not allow a society registered under the Society Re gistration Act t o g r ant degrees. “Many fake institutes mislead students by claiming to be registered societies, which gives the impression that (such institutes) are registered bodies under the Act and so authorised to impart education,” says Tyagi.
Showing a letter to this correspondent, Agarwal says “it has been issued by MCI on July 25, 1996. It says MCI doesn’t regulate courses in alternative medicine and it deals only with the modern scientific system of medicine.” He, however, does not explain why he has not taken the requisite permissions from CCIM or CIH for teaching alter- native medicine.
Aggrawal also claims that Calcutta High Court is scrutinising IBAM’s validity issue. “The court had passed an order of ‘status quo’ in favour of IBAM on July 23, 2003,” he says.
The authenticity of Aggarwal’s copy of the order could not be verified on Calcutta High Court’s website. “The case was filed in 1996 that’s why it’s not on the website,” says Agarwal. A check of the website, however, reveals details of cases older than 1996.
When questioned about the case and how it landed in Calcutta High Court, Agarwal said, “As the matter is sub-judice in the High Court, it will not be proper for me to make any further comments.”
Some of the degree and post degree courses which IBAM teaches in the regular and correspondence mode include bachelor of alternative medical system (BASM), masters in psychotherapy and counselling (MPC), doctor of naturopathy/natural medicine (ND/NMD), doctor of oriental medicine (OMD), doctor of science in alternative medicines – DSc(AM).
The nomenclature of these degrees do not conform with degrees approved by the UGC. Planning to take up a job soon after graduation? You need not worry as recruiters will soon be flocking to Delhi University’s campuses to hire for roles ranging from customer and flight services to data analysis. These incidentally will also be profiles in demand during the placement season.
At DU’s Central Placement Cell, which conducts placement drives for the university, good command of language and communication skills have got priority over domain knowledge of subjects.
“Domestic airlines Vistara and Indigo come to hire cabin crew members, ground and ticketing staff from us. Companies like Wipro, Infosys and HCL hire graduates from any stream for their call centres. E-commerce giant Amazon looks for graduates with language skills in German, Spanish and Italian,” says a DU official.
Some of the jobs offered to DU graduates are also open to nongraduates with work experience. They include diploma holders from open schools and polytechnics, say company sources.
“We hire DU graduates for customer service roles. As part of their jobs, these graduates (we call them recruitment executives) handle inbound calls, send out emails and respond to queries and also counsel job-seekers offline. However, business development roles sometimes require them to interact directly with employers and get them to post job openings on our portal,” says Pallav Sinha, founder and CEO, MeraJob India.
While graduation is the minimum requirement for taking up a business development role, a non-graduate with good commu- nication and computer skills, and over one year of work experience in customer service, can become a recruitment executive. Out of nine DU graduates who joined the company last year, only two joined business development roles, says Sinha.
Another popular recruiter at DU placements, Genpact, hired all students from DU for its ITeS and BPO division.
“We require graduates with a commerce background as most roles offered within the company involve providing financial services to clients,” says Nitin Khurana, AVP, recruitment, Genpact. Any graduate or diploma holder from an open school or polytechnic doing a programme which is considered equivalent to graduation is eligible for placement with the company.
Some companies look for graduates with analytical skills and subject-specific knowledge. For instance, consulting firm Deloitte hired 175 graduates f rom DU l ast year in areas such as consulting, enterprise risk, and financial advisory. Dealing with data analysis and data interpretation, these graduates help in preparing reports and insights.
“For roles in audit, finance and tax we look for graduates from the commerce background; for consulting profiles, graduates must have a mathematical bent of mind. Sometimes, we also hire arts students who are clear and articulate when communicating in consulting roles. Over and above these skills, we look for graduates who are full of energy and show commitment and passion in anything they do,” says SV Nathan, senior director and chief talent officer, Deloitte India