Dear Prof. Manna,
With deep regret I share the anguish of students who are protesting against untimely death of
Alok Kumar Pandey, a Ph.D. student, at the IIT Kanpur campus Health Center. As we have come to know, this is not an isolated case. Similar incidents have occurred in the past and no concrete action has been taken by the institute administration.Although we are told that alumni should not interfere in the administration of the institute, we cannot remain silent spectator when endless administrative apathy results in loss of human lives or injustice on campus. My own visit to the Health Center in February 2015, convinced me that it is a Hazard Center and not a Health Center. I was appalled to see how poorly hazardous medical waste is handled and how little attention is paid to disinfecting hands that touch patients. Ambulance is also in a bad shape. In March 2013, I was attending a meeting on campus in which a professor fainted and an ambulance was called from Health Center. The stretcher on which the professor was lying could not be pushed-in the ambulance completely. He was driven with back-door of the ambulance open with another professor holding the stretcher and the door! The driver and the attendant on the ambulance had no medical training. I wrote a proposal in June 2015 to IITK Foundation to consider raising funds to upgrade Health Center. Unfortunately no progress was made. It is now clear that not only the facilities at the Health Center are worthy of a world class institute we all love but doubts are being raised on the recruitment process and qualifications of physicians employed at the Health Center. How can precious lives of students be trusted with the care of such physicians?
I believe the first principal of medical care is, “DO NO HARM.” It appears, and there have been multiple instances to support that, that is not the case with the Health Center. I urge you to take personal interest in fixing this dangerous facility.
I would like to suggest the following for your consideration:
1. Immediately file an FIR of the incident which occurred on the soil of the campus.
2. Immediately suspend the doctor involved in Alok Kumar Pandey’s death.
3. Conduct a thorough and independent investigation of the current case with an objective to find the truth and NOT to cover or defend doctors or pass on the blame to the third party as has been done in the past with the deaths of construction workers. All the investigation proceedings and its findings be made public.
4. Take severe and precipitous action against those found guilty
5. Conduct a thorough and independent review of the Health Center with an objective to improve it. The review should include but not limited to: recruitment method and qualifications of physicians, quality of facilities, satisfaction and responsiveness to patient’s needs, and appropriateness of processes used. Input from ALL stake holders including students should be taken. For the sake of the environment and health of the students and others it might be worthwhile to visit a world class hospital and invest in improving the Health Center. It is also felt that there are several important medical specialists who are not currently available at Health Center. Perhaps this gap could be filled with part-time physicians.
At this difficult time on campus, the institute administration needs to show care and compassion to the students rather than propagate the feeling of cover-up. We need to bring the Health Center and other facilities to the level of the standard our students and faculty aspire to and expect from a world class institute of global repute.
Ashok Gupta (BT/ME/1972)
Alumni Association President (2012-16)