'We'll ask PG students to sign 3-yr bond'

'We'll ask PG students to sign 3-yr bond'

In a bid to make more seats available for students from Karnataka, the state government attempted to introduce a domiciliary condition for eligibility to government and government-subsidised post-graduate medical and dental seats. The Supreme Court, however, struck down the rule.

Meghana Choukkar of DH spoke to Director of Medical Education Dr S Sacchidanand on the state government's move.

What was the rationale behind Karnataka's bid to introduce a domiciliary condition for PG medical seats in government colleges and government-subsidised seats in private colleges?

Students from outside the state come here get subsidised post-graduate seats and leave after completing their course. We have between 1,000 and 1,500 posts vacant in the health and family welfare department and about 1,000 posts in the medical education department. How will we fill up these vacancies? If Karnataka students study in our colleges, they will join our department and our medical colleges. We will have more doctors in our own state.

The most important thing is that, according to the rules, 50% of the PG seats in government colleges go to the all-India pool for centralised counselling. On top of that, a portion of the government seats in private colleges is an open quota. After giving away these many seats, why should we allow students from other states in seats under our state quota also?

This year, counselling for deemed university seats is also being done by the Centre. Last year, we conducted the counselling for those seats. Institutions had parted with a share of their seats, which we gave to students at a subsidised fee. Now, we have lost those seats, too. Where is the justice for our own students? We have to cater to socially and economically backward students in our own state, too. That is the reason we insisted on the domiciliary condition.

Would imposing such a condition actually alleviate the shortage issue?

Absolutely, it will. People from Karnataka would largely prefer to practice in Karnataka. But if students from other states study here and go back, it will take at least 10 to 15 years for us to fill up our vacancies. 

On what basis do you say that students from outside the state will not stay back?

We have noticed over time that students from outside the state do not stay here even for the one-year internship at the end of MBBS. They usually seek a transfer to their hometown. Then, they come back for PG. In Tamil Nadu, according to the brochures we have seen, only those students who have completed the course and the internship in that state are eligible to apply for government seats. In Karnataka, we are not strict about the internship.

Would you consider implementing that here as well?

We don't know yet. We are interested (in doing so).

NEET was introduced to make the entrance test uniform for students across the country. Shouldn't admissions also be uniform, allowing students to study in a college or state of their choice irrespective of where they come from?

Only the test is uniform. Admissions would be uniform if all medical seats of all colleges were pooled and a single centralised counselling is held. But that is not the case. Counselling is at the state level because each state has a different reservation policy.

Why is Karnataka the preferred destination for medical aspirants? Is there a shortage of medical colleges in the North?

We have more colleges and more seats in Karnataka. Moreover, we have consensual agreements by which the government subsidises some PG seats in private colleges, making them the cheapest in the country. The fee for these seats is about Rs 5 to 7 lakh, while elsewhere it would cost Rs 11-12 lakh. That is why students from other states want to come here. About 60-70% of the medical seats in the country are concentrated in the southern states and Maharashtra. There are more private players in medical education in the South. But now, other states are trying to catch up. Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh are proposing to increase the number of government colleges.

Now that the Supreme Court has struck down the domiciliary condition, how will the department manage the shortage of doctors?

We will introduce a three-year bond for PG students from this year. Anybody who studies in a government college or in a government-subsidised seat in private colleges will have to sign a bond to serve for three years in a place assigned by the Karnataka government. We are asking for this since these students have studied at the expense of the government. It does not apply to students who take up private or management seats. Further, it is only applicable for students who take up clinical subjects such as surgery, gynaecology and paediatrics. This steady supply of post-graduate doctors will solve the shortage to a large extent.

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