In the first place, it is never in the interest of Nagaland In-Service Doctors’ Association (NIDA) to confront the Government of Nagaland for any issues. The association being matured, believe that we have rather much to contribute to the healthcare delivery system and contribute to the advancement of medical science in the state. Likewise, the government of Nagaland is also expected to take advantage of the opportunity and utilize the technical expertise and human resources of NIDA to serve the best interest of the government.
Lately, the Superannuation issue has become a matter of contention between NIDA and government of Nagaland. It is very unfortunate that the policy makers failed to understand the finer points of the issue. Instead of building a better relation between the two and addressing the issue with trust, the policy makers have rather used deceptive methods to mislead both the association and the general public of Nagaland.
General public of Nagaland must understand why our state needs enhanced superannuation age for doctors more than any other states in the country.
- On 26th of May 2016 our honourable Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi announced that retirement age of government doctors shall be enhanced to 65 years in order to mitigate the problem of acute shortage of the doctors in the country. The central government subsequently amended the fundamental rules for doctors titled the Fundamental (Second amendment) Rules 2018. Vide order dated the 11th Aug 2018 G.S.R. 767(E). Accordingly, almost all the states across India including North-Eastern States implemented the order in their respective states.
- The recommended Doctor Population ratio according to World Health Organisation is 1:1000 whereas national average stands at 1: 1445 (The Economic Survey 2019-2020). In case of Nagaland State it is 1: 4056 (Projected Population 2020)
- In Nagaland public sector, the total number of sanctioned post for doctors (including dental surgeon) stands at 548. Out of these, 435 are filled (322 regular+113 contract) and the rest 113 are still vacant. On numerous occasions the department of Health & F.W has advertised for filling up the vacancies in different capacities and specialities but the vacant posts could not be filled due to lack of applicants and resignation after joining the service. Further, the shortfall will stand at 326 for MBBS doctors, 13 for dental surgeon and 20 for AYUSH for various health units if we apply Indian Public Health Standards (IPHS) norms in Nagaland. If we consider the post creation for the newly created districts, the number will increase further.
- Nagaland being the only state in the country without medical college, requires more doctors to fill the faculty positions in the two upcoming medical colleges. This vacancy cannot be occupied by employing any educated unemployed youth but by the qualified medical professionals alone.
- As a matter of fact, it is in the best interest of our government and not NIDA per se to retain the most experienced doctors in the state, as our state is not in a position to outsource doctors from abroad or outside the state. Many of our young medical graduates also prefer to be employed in private sectors owing to better job satisfaction and remunerations.
- The long term goal should be directed towards creating more MBBS seats as well as making the two medical colleges in the state functional at the earliest. The immediate action should be to retain the experienced doctors in the state.
Chronology of Superannuation issue in the state of Nagaland:
- On 26th May 2016, the Prime Minister declared 65 years as retirement age for government doctors.
- Government of India issued an order regularizing the Prime Minister’s promise through order No.31st May 2016 No. A.12034/1/2014-CHS-V
- A memorandum was submitted by NIDA in Aug 2016 to Government of Nagaland in regard to enhancement of superannuation age for doctors.
- NIDA being a matured association and knowing the position of the Government scaled down its demand of superannuation age from 65 to 62 years for all.
- After waiting patiently for 5 years, on 25th of January 2021, NIDA registered its first resentment by wearing Black Arm Bands.
- On 8th of April 2021, NIDA through press release announced the start of second phase of agitation in the form of mass casual leave for three days w.e.f 12th April 2021.
- On 10th April 2021, Chief Secretary of Nagaland appealed to NIDA to withdraw the proposed mass casual leave in view of Covid-19 pandemic and also assured NIDA that government is working to resolve the issue at the earliest.
- NIDA honoured the Chief Secretary’s appeal and decided to keep the agitation in abeyance.
- NIDA announced 3rd phase of agitation in the form of indefinite cease work except Emergency Service w.e.f 15th April 2021.
- On 17th April 2021, the Chief Secretary appealed to call off the strike and gave assurance to NIDA in writing that “The Government is actively considering the matter relating to the increase in the superannuation age of medical doctors and offered to resolved the matter within a period not exceeding one year”
- On 21st April 2022 the Cabinet decided to enhance the superannuation age of all the doctors from 60 to 62 years through Re-employment (letter No. CAB-2/2013.)
- On 26th April 2022, NIDA out rightly rejected the cabinet decision and requested the Government to review the decision taken on “Re-employment” and fulfil demand of 62 years of superannuation age for all doctors without condition and criteria.
- After a lapse of 3 months without any response from the Government, NIDA again announced the indefinite cease work from 18th July 2022.
- NIDA honoured the appeal of Hon’ble Minister of Healthv & Family Welfare to keep the agitation in abeyance in view of upcoming Presidential Election.
Basing on the above cited facts and events, NIDA request the government of Nagaland to immediately:-
- Review the “Re-employment” envisaged by the notification dated 15.7.2022 and let it be made into actual translation of enhanced superannuation age of 62 years for doctors without any condition and criteria.
- Recruit sufficient doctors to fill all the vacant and sanctioned posts and regularize all contract appointments made during the covid-19 pandemic in order to run healthcare delivery system smoothly.
Nagaland In-service Doctors’ Association (NIDA)