Professor busts mass-bunking across Maharashtra's medical colleges

Updated: 22 October, 2018 18:41 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon | Mumbai

exclusive>> 100-plus students from each college went on long trips to the hills on the pretext of participating in AIIMS cultural festival

The issue was brought to light by a professor from Nair medical college. Representational Image
The issue was brought to light by a professor from Nair medical college. Representational Image

Thousands of second-year (first term) medical students from colleges across the state have come under the scanner over disciplinary issues. The students allegedly mass-bunked to go on leisure trips under the guise of participating in Pulse 2018, an annual socio-cultural literary and sports fest organised by the students union of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi.

A highly-placed faculty member said, "Nearly 100 second-year students (in the age group of 18 to 20) from each medical college went without taking any prior permission from their respective deans or teaching faculty. And those who had actually got permission to participate in Pulse 2018 went on tours to Shimla, Dehradun, Kullu-Manali, etc, instead.

The students had sought permission to attend the event from September 18 to October 3. When they were called out over the fact that the event was from September 16 to September 22, they had apologised and submitted a fresh letter, requesting leave from September 16 to 23. However, instead of resuming college from September 24, they all showed up directly on October 4.

Nearly 98 students from LTMG medical college bunked
Nearly 98 students from LTMG medical college bunked

Going AWOL
"Nearly 70 per cent students from the five major medical colleges — Grant (200 seats), GSMC KEM (200 seats) BYL Nair (150 seats), HBT Cooper (150), and LTMG (150 seats) — went on the trip. Around 120 students from KEM, 91 from Nair and 98 from LTMG were away." Giving details about the students from other medical colleges in Maharashtra bunking, the faculty member added, "Those in Nanded, Nagpur, Yavatmal, Nashik, Miraj-Sangli and other places, too, went away in similar numbers. More than 100 students of BJ Medical College, Pune, took off after finishing Ganeshotsav festivities."

All this came to light when a whistle-blower professor from BYL Nair Medical College found discrepancies in the students' explanations when they resumed college on October 4, and the college summoned their parents.

Among those who bunked, several students were from JJ Hospital's Grant Medical College. File Pics
Among those who bunked, several students were from JJ Hospital's Grant Medical College. File Pics

"The irony is that in some cases the parents, too, were aware of the trip. Each student had taken Rs 19,500 to Rs 25,000 for the trip from their parents, one of whom is a farmer, who had somehow arranged for the money for his son studying in BYL Nair Medical College," said another professor, expressing shock at students unabashedly lying and taking the institution for granted.

Dr Ramesh Bharmal, dean of Nair medical college, summoned parents of 72 students on October 6 and warned them of consequences if their children repeated such a stunt in future.

"As a result of this, the teaching faculty could not continue with their classes, as the number of students in attendance was small. But when students did not come to college after September 24, professors in some of the colleges held regular classes," said a professor.

One professor has already written an official letter to the vice chancellor, Maharashtra University of Health Sciences (MUHS), Nashik, highlighting the issue.

Dr Pravin Shingare
Dr Pravin Shingare

Blown wide open
The whistle-blower professor at Nair medical college was upset with the fact that even those who had been granted permission had disobeyed their respective dean's instructions. When asked why they did not resume college on the promised date, the students gave evasive replies.

After they produced their participation certificates from the event, the professor became suspicious and made each student answer a questionnaire individually — about which sports they had participated in, colour of their jersey, names of teammates, number of players and so on. Cross-checking revealed serious lapses, with no two students' answers tallying. He then asked them to get their parents to college. Apologetic, the parents then admitted that such behaviour was unacceptable.

During questioning, some students confessed that the day they had reached AIIMS, they'd found out their events had gotten over the previous day, and hence, they'd then gone to the organisers for participation certificates, which were handed over without any verification. The students had then proceeded to their planned leisure trip. "These are our future doctors, who instead of being good academics, are good at lying and cheating," said the whistle-blower professor, requesting anonymity.

mid-day reached out to a few parents, most of whom were apprehensive about admitting their children's mistake. The doctor father of a Nair college student refused to comment, saying he was busy examining patients in his OPD.

Another parent, however, said, "I was shocked that our son lied to us. We thought it was an official visit and compulsory to attend; hence, we did not question him when he asked for the money. We are happy the college brought this to our notice and will be vigilant henceforth."

Event organisers' defence
Hemant Jhajharia, a student at AIIMS and one of the chief coordinators of Pulse 2018, said, "It's not unusual for outstation students to attend the event for a few days and then go on a tour to nearby places. We have no role in that."

Interestingly, Jhajharia recalled receiving a phone call from a Nashik student enquiring about a 10-day tour to Shimla, Dehradun and Kullu-Manali after the event.
"It is unfortunate that medical students stooped to such a level... We have clear instructions issued that if the number of students from a particular college is more than 10, they need to obtain a letter of permission or no objection from their dean. And all payments from students are accepted only through demand draft," said Jhajharia.

"We have no control over the students and their groups, unless there are any disciplinary issues during their stay on the AIIMS campus," he added.

Pulse plan

  • Organisers of the AIIMS event said they are coming up with a set of corrective measures immediately:
  • Call for suggestions from registered members/students on the official portal (https://www.pulse-aiims.com) on how to overcome this menace
  • Certificate of participation to have security features, including watermarks that cannot be duplicated, and all certificates, duly signed and stamped, to be handed over physically
  • Invitation letter to over 700 medical colleges across India and SAARC nations to include details of two additional security features on the certificates, which participating students will not be told about
  • Sharing details of students' participation with respective colleges, on request from the college dean

OFFICIALSPEAK
Dr Ramesh Bharmal,
dean, Nair medical college
'It is unfortunate that the students did this... disciplinary action was initiated, wherein we summoned their parents and made them submit an undertaking stating that they are aware such indiscipline won't be tolerated and a repeat offence would result in an official complaint being sent to the MUHS'

Dr Dileep Mhaisekar,
professor, MUHS, Nashik
'We at the university level do not handle students' attendance and permission issues for such events; it is dealt with by the deans of respective colleges. We may initiate appropriate action if the deans write to us and give us the names of students involved; it might be considered during allotment of examination hall ticket, for which attendance is crucial'

Dr Pravin Shingare,
director, DMER, Maharashtra
'I am not aware of... If such a thing has happened, it is an act of indiscipline. I will seek information from all medical college deans across the state, and appropriate action will be taken against the students'

Dr Hemant Dhusia,
academic dean, LTMG college
'As many as 98 second-year students went for the event, despite our dean giving permission only to those participating from September 17 to 22. We will surely take necessary disciplinary action'.

Also Read: MMC to crack down on shirking students, erring healthcare centres

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First Published: 22 October, 2018 07:40 IST

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