JNIMS - Untold story

    23-Dec-2019
A D Singh
I was an ‘Accidental Director’ of Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences (JNIMS). After retirement from Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), I was leading a very peaceful and happy time as an Hony. Consultant at  Catholic Medical Centre (CMC), Koirengei, with a handsome amount of Rs 25000 pm as honourium to meet my daily expense. The environment and love of the Bishop and management more than compensated any loss of financial benefits. I was contented.
One day in late October or was it early November 2008, Dr S Ibomcha Singh the then Additional Director of Manipur Health Services, barged to my room at CMC. I thought he had come for some patient. So greeted him and enquired about the unexpected visit. He broached up appointment of Director for the proposed JNIMS. I laughed him off and told him that I was not interested as I was leading a happy retired life and suggested a few persons for the post. I even told him in jest, that I had never worked under the government and I was not going to take files at this age, to the bureaucrats who were all juniors to me. He assured me that the institute is going to be under a society and all that. I told him firmly I was not interested. I thought that was the end of it. Meantime I saw on television the CM taking round of JN Hospital, to see progress of works perhaps. I really felt pity and wondered why he not the medical officials were doing the supervision. In late November the post was advertised. I did not think of applying. Then again Dr Ibomcha Singh suddenly appeared one day at my door and scolded me as very unreasonable man (ngangnaba yadaba ahan) and asked me to give my bio-data. I asked him whether he was really serious for I had no intention of facing another selection in life. We both laughed. I agreed to prepare application for the post. Shortly, the interview was held. One interesting anecdote which I won’t be able to forget is, when I told the Most Rev Bishop Joseph Mittathani that I was going for an interview next day, His Grace calmly said “we will pray for you not to be selected. We may not give you the money which they are paying, but can give you peace of mind which you won’t get there”. I was almost in tear on realising how much he cared for me. On rebound I told him that the state needed me and I owed it to state for giving me an opportunity to be a doctor in the first place. So, it was a sad parting for both of us. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find three other candidates for the selection as I was given the impression that no one was willing to take the post and the trouble of establishing a new medical college.  I offered to my friends to withdraw. In late Dec 2008 I was informed by this good friend to join immediately. When I protested that I had not got the appointment letter, he nonchalantly told, it was with him. Next day, the 23rd Dec 2009, (incidentally this was also the date on which I applied for voluntary retirement from MS, RIMS) I went to the Medical Directorate and met the Director and my friend. There I had the first shock of my new assignment (many more to come). When asked about my office and staff, I was told to sit at the RD wing in the campus. I protested how can it be I remained seated in Lamphel when the actual activities were going to be at Porompat, a good five - six km away.
I made a courtesy call to the then CM Sri O Ibobi Singh, whom I had met only thrice earlier. The meeting changed my poor impression of the commitment to the project of the medical directorate. What he told me was unforgettable. He said “ Doctor, I want to do some thing very worth while for the state  (in his words—”ei state kidamakta karigumba masukthokpa khara touningngi, mateng khara pangbiyu.) The words are still ringing in my ears. He asked the Minister of PWD Sri K Ranjit Singh to see that a good vehicle was allotted to me. That it was not done for two - three months was another matter but I really appreciated the sentiment and determination of the man. I came out of his office more determined and committed than ever before in my life to fulfil his dream and my own. I realised that an opportunity had been given tome to be of service to the state.
The next few weeks I spent my time without anywhere to sit and work, inspecting and studying the JN Hospital and trying to familiarise myself with the wards and other parts of the hospital, and the staff who curiously looked at me. I had never worked in this hospital and was not familiar with many of the staff. The hospital was planned as District Hospital long time back. It lacked many of the requirements of a teaching hospital. It depressed me, more so the government was not ready to transfer the hospital and the staff to the Society for quite some time. They did not seem to realise that it was hampering my work as I don’t have full control and authority to remodel the hospital as per MCI requirements as also control of the staff. It was only after repeated discussion in the governing board where I served a veiled warning that the govt. reluctantly transferred the hospital. In the meantime, I managed to occupy few rooms in a building which was under extensive construction to convert to preclinical depts.. of Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry. A few old furniture and a desktop computer which was purchased earlier out of the fund of the institute were sent. One MCS officer and one MFS officer were deputed to be the Deputy Director (DDA) and DDF respectively. One PA had also joined by then. For few weeks I used to hold the keys of the doors and gate as no staff was provided. Subsequently one person was literally picked up from the street to be the chowkidar of the office.
(To be contd)