Criticism of the pomp and show during the last week’s neurology conference at the PGIMER seems to have served a lesson to many other medical conference organisers.
Now, these organisers have started calling for austerity in medical conferences, something never seen before at the premier medical institute.
Just two days after conclusion of the four-day 22nd annual conference of Indian Academy of Neurology (IANCON) on Tuesday, the PGIMER called a press conference to announce another medical conference.
This time it was the three-day 44th National Endocrine Congress, ESICON-2014, being organised by PGIMER’s department of endocrinology starting Friday.
The conference will be attended by 15 international faculty, 50 national faculty and 1,200 delegates, who will dwell on the theme, “Recent Developments in Endocrinology”.
According to the PGIMER, 2014 coincides with 50 years of endocrinology in India as this concept of superspecialty originated in India from PGIMER.
At the very onset of the press conference, Dr Anil Bansali, head, endocrinology at the PGIMER and organising chairperson of the conference, entered into a defensive mode. “We are organising a purely academic activity. There will be no distractions, and not even city tours,” he said. “We are charging a meagre amount of `2 lakh from advertising stalls, and our budget is also limited,” he said.
However, when asked about the total budget of the conference, a little evasive Dr Bansali said the budget details could be shared only after the conference.
The brazen marketing gimmicks and vulgar show of pharmaceutical companies during the Rs 2-crore IANCON are still talk of the town. Such was the audacity that even candies distributed among visitors sported stamps of top pharmaceutical companies, even as event managers, top caterers of the region and luxury liquour brands ruled the show. Days before the event, hundreds of illegal hoardings were put up across the city.
When contacted, Dr Vivek Lal, head, neurology department, PGIMER, and organising secretary of IANCON, said the meet witnessed 1,500 delegates from across the world, and it was being termed as one of the best conferences organised ever in history of Indian Academy of Neurology, when it came to the academic activities and hygienic food in minimum budget.
“We had allowed just 11 stalls by companies, and the conference was not organised in a five-star hotel, but at PGIMER by paying a rent of just Rs 10,000 a day. Besides, the event manager charged Rs 5 lakh.
Those who are claiming austerity now, are putting up 52 stalls. I wonder what kind of academic opportunities these stalls will give,” Dr Lal added.