Dear IAPSM members,
It has been a splendid experience and a very pleasant journey of 6 years (2016–22) as the Editor-in-Chief of Indian Journal of Community Medicine. This tenure with the IAPSM family has given me immense heartening experiences. Today, when I am destined to hand over the reins to my close friend Dr. Pankaj Bhardwaj, I would like to share my emotions with you all.
I am reminded of the day when I took over as the Editor-in-Chief, thanks to the faith reposed by you in me, from my esteemed colleague Dr. Vivek Adhish; I felt jittery and unsure of my ability to handle this responsibility, more so when I looked at the names of predecessors, all eminent scholars and stalwarts of Community Medicine. The onus of proving myself to the level of my predecessors (or may be taking it beyond) as well as keeping the repute and esteem of the journal was a herculean task.
As I began my work, I was enthralled with the help and cooperation from my friends and colleagues. I had personally set high goal(s) for IJCM which was time-bound. This needed lot of hard work, passion, and dedication beyond my own self. I was blessed to get excellent support from all five presidents during my tenure (Drs. Ashok Mishra, Ratan Srivastava, Anil Purty, Sanjay Zodpey, and Suneela Garg) and one secretary general (Dr. AM Kadri). Thanks to their unconditional support, in the first few years, I was successful in bringing financial stability, pan-India representation, and enhanced international participation. At the end of the first tenure, I felt that a lot was needed to be done further and with this dream in mind, I put forward my candidature for the same post again in 2019. I was fortunate to get a hearty and thumping support again. This resulted in a feeling of increased responsibility which imbued me to work harder at consolidating and furthering the achievements of the first tenure. Moreover, I was successful in reducing the turnaround time to around 1 year whilst increasing the size of each issue (more pages mean more articles) with sustained high quality. Despite more published articles, the acceptance rate in our journal is still around 12–15%. It is so because annual article submission jumped from 360 (2016) to 1540 (2021), indicating the faith and the respect the journal commands among the contributors from across the globe. In between, we came across about a dozen cases of authorship disputes, plagiarism, and so on, which were sorted out with the help of editorial board members. A robust and transparent policy (with active participation of editorial board members) of selection of articles for Prof BK Mahajan award was developed. A couple of new awards were added for the other best articles published in the journal with some financial rewards (thanks to improved finances). The journal also became an active participant in the Ford Foundation research grant (now renamed IJCM Ford Foundation Grant).
I sincerely acknowledge and thank contributors, reviewers, subscribers, advertisers, editorial board members and a team of dedicated friendly staff from our publishers (Wolters Kluwer Limited) – all of them contributed in one way or the other in my pleasure-filled journey. I will be forever indebted to my small editorial team at HQ of Drs. Deepak, Rashmi, Bhavesh and Harsh for their support, especially to Drs. Rashmi and Harsh for doing most of the work, bearing my tantrums and meeting the deadlines which in most cases were difficult to meet with. Mr. Alpesh (support staff) deserves a special mention. We as a team remained available to all the contributors through mobile, e-mail and WhatsApp and tried to solve their problems as far as possible. Because of my inherent nature (genuinely sorry for that), I at times got rude with others, and I seek sincere apology from everyone for hurting them (must have done with many).
Today, when I look back, I have a satisfying smile in my heart of having done what I could. I was fully aware that this was my final tenure (because our constitution does not permit more than two terms), and I had put forward all that I could do with my helpful friends.
I still have some unfinished dreams such as reducing the turnaround time further to less than 6 months, getting its impact factor, and an increased subscription base (internationally). I am not only hopeful but confident that next team in command will take these dreams further. My best wishes and assured support will always be there with the new incumbent.