On August 1, the Rajya Sabha passed the National Medical Commission Bill which seeks to replace the Medical Council of India Act, 1956. This Bill seeks to replace the selection process of the governors of the MCI — currently, by and large, medical practitioners elected by state-level peers — with governors who will mostly be medical practitioners nominated by the Central Government.

In its opposition to this bill, the Indian Medical Association has said that “the autonomy of the medical profession and the watch-dog role it should play. will be lost. It will only lead to autocracy in these institutions.” Many doctors have also risen up in protest against National Medical Commission Bill because a clause allows work by health professionals.

Ever since Independence, centralised self-regulation of health has resulted in power and the practice of medicine being concentrated in the hands of a certified few. The NMC Bill continues that unfortunate centralisation but has allowed a token few uncertified providers to practice. Some doctors are protesting against even this in misguided self-interest but there are many others who believe that in order to make healthcare work for us all, we must devolve health practice and its regulation to us all.