THE UNION Health Ministry on Friday appointed renowned ophthalmologist Dr Jagat Ram as the new PGIMER director for a term of five years. The appointment orders were issued after the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) cleared his name out of a panel of three doctors. Soon after taking over in the evening, 60-year-old Dr Jagat Ram, who is also heading the Department of Ophthalmology at PGIMER, said, “The appointment has came as a big responsibility for me and my first priority shall be to create harmony on the campus and take all the PGI staff on board to take the institute to the new level.”
The appointment has come a year after PGIMER issued a notification inviting applications for the post of the new director. The selection process this time got mired in a big controversy and several questions were raised over the manner in which the shortlisting was done by the Health Ministry. Jagat Ram had figured on the third place among the three shortlisted PGI doctors recommended to the ACC.
On Friday, the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions in its notification to the Union Health Ministry said that ACC had cleared the name of Dr Jagat Ram as the PGI director for a period of five years. Subsequently, the Health Ministry issued the appointment orders in the evening. Until Friday, the institute was headed by Dean of the institute Dr Subhash Verma, who was made the officiating director for six months by the Health Ministry.
Talking to the media, Dr Jagat Ram said, “The biggest challenge for me is that emergency of the hospital is overstressed and also, there is an increasing rush of patients everyday. Our technical research has to improve and I think we need to take it to another level. We should have a cutting-edge technology,” he said. He added that there should be collaboration between the clinician and the scientist which could take the PGI to the next level.
Asked if he was expecting to become director as this time the shortlist had triggered a controversy, Dr Jagat Ram said that “I was one of the shortlisted candidates and it came as a new thing for me. By coming from a small village and heading an eye centre is also a big thing for me.”
The shortlisted panel of the three doctors by a search and selection committee headed by Union Health Secretary C K Mishra last year had triggered resentment among the PGI faculty who had raised questions on the shortlisted panel of doctors. The PGI faculty had raised objections to the inclusion of Dr Anil Bhansali and Dr Meenu Singh in the shortlisted panel. The National Commission of SC and ST also recommended to the Union Health Ministry to review the shortlisted panel. The SC/ST body of PGI went to the SC Commission alleging discrimination in the selection process.
Senior PGI faculty members welcomed Dr Ram’s appointment. “Dr Jagat Ram is a man of integrity. We shall work with him to take the PGI to the next level. We will extend our cooperation to improve the institute,” said Dr T D Yadav, president, PGI’s Faculty Association. Recognised internationally Dr Jagat Ram, Professor and head of Ophthalmology Department, is recognised internationally for his contributions in the field of cataract and refractive surgery. He is a recipient of 24 national and international awards.