19th century Unani college faces manpower crunch

June 5th, 2008 - 11:03 am ICT by IANS  

By Azera Rahman
New Delhi, June 5 (IANS) A 19th century college here that has been promoting the traditional Indian medicinal systems of ayurveda and unani for decades is facing a severe staff shortage even as there are plans to make it an autonomous varsity soon. The Ayurvedic and Unani Tibbia College, which is currently under Delhi University, urgently needs more teachers, laboratory technicians and other staff.

“Developing infrastructure so that the college can be developed into a full-fledged university is a challenge, especially with the shortage of manpower that we are facing,” Ahmed Yasin, principal of the college, told IANS in an interview.

Walking into the college, located amid the hustle bustle of the busy Karol Bagh market area in central Delhi, is like taking a stroll back in time. With a flourishing herbal garden in the centre, the various departments of the college building - whose architecture is heavily influenced by the Mughal style, complete with the minarets - surround it.

“We have all the support from the Delhi government. Funds are not a problem either. But there are a lot of other things that need to be worked upon and although we are progressing, it’s a slow pace,” Yasin said.

“We need more teachers, more laboratory technicians, more staff at all levels. At the undergraduate level, we need 70 staff members. Similar is the state at the post-graduate level. For that, posts have to be created and, although we have applied for it, things are moving slowly,” he added.

One of the very few institutions in the country which offer education in both ayurveda and unani, the Tibbia college traces its history back to the 19th century.

Originally established as a madrassa by Hakim Abdul Majid in 1882, the quality of education was improved by Hakim Ajmal Khan. While the foundation of the college was laid by Lord Hardinge, the then Viceroy of India in 1916, it was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1921. Ajmal Khan was closely associated with Mahatma Gandhi.

Promoting Indian medicinal science for decades, the Tibbia college has a pathology laboratory, herbal garden, a dawakhana (mini-pharmacy) and a 210-bed dispensary.

In recognition of its immense contribution to the field of ayurveda and unani, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit announced in February this year that the college would be developed into an autonomous university.

The college, which has been affiliated to Delhi University since 1973, offers bachelors programmes in three subjects - ayurvedic medicine and surgery, unani medicine and surgery, and homoeopathic medicine and surgery.

It has now applied for the introduction of postgraduate studies in five subjects - three under unani and two under ayurveda. Right now it has postgraduate studies in three subjects - one under unani and two under ayurveda.

This, the principal said, will ensure a balance between the subject choice offered in both ayurveda and unani.

In contrast to the widely held belief that there is declining interest in the subject, Yasin said he had seen no such negative trend.

“All our seats get filled every year. And it’s not that we have low cut-off percentages. Like last year, when the university decided on an 80 percent cut off for ayurveda and a little less for unani, this year too we expect high cut offs.

“The thing is that all these subjects are job-oriented. One can practise as a physician after passing the required exams in these subjects or join as a research officer in a government organisation,” he reasoned.

While the college’s herbal garden is strictly for academic purposes, its dispensary offers free treatment to everyone.

“The maternity ward in our dispensary which has been opened only recently has been a huge success. On any given day, the occupancy is 60 percent. Besides giving the students good practical exposure to the subject, the dispensary has proved to be a boon to the people around,” the principal said.

(Azera Rahman can be contacted at azera.p@ians.in)

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