Nagaland doctors threaten to intensify agitation over superannuation issue
Nagaland In-Service Doctors’ Association said its restraint should not be considered as a sign of weakness
Kohima, March 30 (EMN): Appalled by the government’s inaction on its demand to extend the superannuation age of medical doctors, the Nagaland In-Service Doctors’ Association (Nida) on Tuesday stated that restraining from escalation of agitation should not be considered as a sign of weakness and threatened to shift its gears.
The association had been wearing black armband since January 25 expressing resentment against the non-implementation of the prime minister’s package announced in 2016 to enhance the superannuation age of medical doctors in the country.
Interacting with journalists in Kohima on Tuesday, Nida president, Dr. E Phyantsuthung maintained that the demand was a long-standing issue and that they had not escalated its form of agitation in lieu of the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic in other parts of the country, except the eastern part with no certainty.
“We feel that this is not the time for confrontation with the government with this issue and am sure the government’s confrontation with the doctors will not be their first option at this juncture,” he said.
He added that as responsible officers and as a matured association, it does not want to interrupt and disturb the ongoing vaccination drive ‘which has come after such a long wait –like a light in the tunnel’.
The president said that it has been restraining from agitating keeping in mind the resumption of health services, which had a huge backlog of non-Covid procedures after a year in government-owned hospitals, so that normal healthcare services are not disturbed.
He further asserted that the response of state’s Minister for Health and Family Welfare at a meeting held on March 17 was “quite positive”.
However, Nida maintained that there was no concrete and tangible response from the state government till date and threatened to intensify the form of protest from symbolic –wearing of armband — to “full scale” if the government does not give any positive outcome.
In this regard, the president expressed hope that the government would address the issue at the earliest with a favourable conclusion during its Cabinet meeting.
He added that the Nida members in the peripheries were ‘quite agitated’ as the issue was not new but a long-pending demand.
The co-convenor of core-committee on superannuation, Dr. Ahu Sekhose said while presenting an overview of the issue that the prime minister’s package announced in May 26, 2016, at Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh, has been implemented 29 states of India, except in Nagaland and Meghalaya.
He maintained that the superannuation varies from state to state, like Assam and West Bengal that had increased to the retirement age of doctors to 70 and 65 years respectively.
The Nida warned that it would intensify its agitation if the state Cabinet, which is expected to meet sometime in the first half of April, fails to address its demand.
A series of memoranda were said to have been submitted to the state government with the first one submitted in August 17, 2016, three months after PM’s announcement, which the Cabinet had referred to the cabinet sub-committee but failed to make headway with the government citing the Nagaland Retirement from Public Employment (2nd Amendment) Act, 2009 and financial implications involved back then.
It went on to inform that Nida never asked for increasing the age of superannuation but was given by the Prime Minister to all the medical doctors in the country.
“The question of other technical departments demanding the same does not arise as the prime minister never said about those technical departments,” it added.
It lamented that the demand of the doctors was kept in cold storage until it was revived through a second representation on October 27, 2020 after four years, after which a series of representations were sent to the government through the chief secretary on January 7, 2021, and subsequently on January 14, 2021.
The association had submitted its latest memorandum to the chief minister on March 19, urging the government to separate the superannuation issue of the medical doctors from the agenda of the Cabinet sub-committee and expedite it in the next Cabinet meeting for immediate logical conclusion.
It reiterated that the core demand remained the same – to increase the age of superannuation for doctors to 65 for clinical and 62 for administrative, while pointing out that the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) specification for doctor-patient ratio is 1:1000, which in Nagaland is almost 1:3000 and falls under the worst category.
Meanwhile, the convenor of core-committee on superannuation, Dr. Thorusie Katiry, stated that the lackadaisical attitude of the government till date demoralises the working spirit of the doctors.
He, however, stated that Nida has been restraining itself to the maximum for the welfare of the public, which he stated ‘was poorly taken by the government’ or has taken it as a sign of weakness.