Niti panel snubs critics, pushes plan to replace MCI

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Despite opposition from certain quarters, including Indian Medical Association (IMA), the high-powered committee headed by Niti Aayog vice-chairman Arvind Panagariya has moved forward with the plan to replace the Medical Council of India (MCI) with National Medical Commission.

A bill to replace MCI is likely to be introduced in the current session of Parliament.

The final draft of the NMC, finalised by the Panagariya panel last week, retained the provision that a government appointed broad-based searchcum-selection committee will select medical education regulators, instead of them being nominated and elected as used to happen in MCI.

The IMA has objected to the move, saying that in its eagerness to restructure the MCI to overhaul medical education, the panel is taking away its autonomy and democratic structure.

The Alliance of Doctors for Ethical Healthcare had termed the draft NMC Bill a "huge disappointment", saying the policy directions given shows that it seeks to further accelerate privatisation and commercialisation of medical education in the country .

However, an official said that the Panagariya panel tried to balance the concerns about high cost of medical education for meritorious but poor and disadvantaged students, with the worry that a fee cap might be a deterrent for the entry of private players in a sector where capacity expansion can brook no delay .

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