Finally the bill for reservations in higher education including in medical colleges is passed and quota for SC/ST/OBC would be implemented from the 2007 academic session. All the efforts of the anti reservation campaigns, the morchas, the beatings, arrests and thousands of man hours amounted close to nothing.
Also, this year, in Maharashtra, the rural service bond of 1 lakh was implemented. More over, completion of medical officership or breaking the bond (paying one lakh) was made the criteria for students of 2001 batch to give the post-graduate medical entrance exam. This led to a flurry of students arranging for the bond money (one lakh) as most of them wanted to have shot at the entrance exams. The government disclosed the amount of money collected just from the 2001 batch as 10.06 crores. There are many students who have not broken the bond but will break it in march-april. Moreover, students who will apply for foreign universities will have to pay one lakh extra. The basis of this extra one lakh is till date, unexplained. This inflow of cash from broken bonds will continue every year. All in all it is evident that there is going to be an influx of hard cash in the BMC in the coming years.
The reason the government gives for their right on this money is that they spend an equal amount on each medical student for the course. The government has never disclosed the amount of money it spends on medical education. So the amount of the bond money fixed at one lakh is baseless. Besides, how will this money, which is supposed to be used for medical education, be of any use to the rural health? One cannot escape doubting where this money will end up!
Medical graduates on the other hand state that taking up the medical officership will not make much difference to the rural health as the facilities and equipment available at most government primary health centres is grossly inadequate. Many centres don’t even have the basic drugs to treat conditions like fever, malaria, cough, cold and respiratory infections including tuberculosis.
Now, the government/BMC has to shoulder the responsibility of spending this acquired money on developing the quality of medical education which is below standards, to say the least. Medical students should demand the details of the money spent on them over the last past 5 years.
Over the past year, problems plaguing medical education like quota and service bond will give rise to two other problems. One, a good student aspiring to become a doctor will be persuaded to change his career options and he/she will find fields like engineering, management etc to be much more attractive. Two, many medical graduates will leave the country and go to USA, Australia, UK for postgraduation and subsequent immigration.
Infact, according to a survey the applicants for GRE and USMLE (for United States of America) from Mumbai city medical colleges have doubled in the recent few months. Are these healthy signs for the future of society’s health? Will this benefit rural health? Are we ready for a new wave of medical brain drain? We know the answers to the above questions. Unfortunately, the government doesn’t.