Against the backdrop of questions being raised about its autonomy, a high-level expert committee is confident of making the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) "as immune as possible from authorities".
"We hope we can come out with some recommendations which will make AIIMS as immune as possible from authorities," MS Valiathan, who has been named the head of the four-member expert committee on AIIMS affairs, informed from Manipal.
The committee is beginning its task against the backdrop of a bitter row between Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss and AIIMS Director P Venugopal, whose sacking was recommended by the Institute's Governing Council and stayed by the Delhi High Court.
AIIMS was in the news for all the wrong reasons in the past few months since it became a nerve centre of the protests against a proposed quota for OBCs in elite educational institutions.
Observing that the committee has been given a "broader assignment" through "comprehensive" terms of reference encompassing all aspects, the former director of Kerala-based Sri Chitra Tirunal Institute of Medical Sciences said the panel's recommendations would "redefine" the functioning of the premier institution.
"Even the prime minister and the health minister have favoured autonomy of the institute. It is only how you interpret it," Valiathan said.
The terms of reference of the committee, annnounced last week, include making recommendations to turn AIIMS into a centre of excellence and a leader in public healthcare for the entire country.