Amid raging debate over whether reservation in promotions should continue, the Medical Council of India's directive to award 'incentive marks' to government doctors serving in rural areas in Post Graduation admissions has divided the medical fraternity, with young non-government service doctors and PG medical aspirants, questioning the rationale behind the bonus marks.
As per the Medical Council of India regulation, discretionary powers were given to state government/competent authority to award incentive marks to the in-service doctors working in the notified remote areas.
In-service doctors are eligible for 10, 20 and 30 per cent incentive marks in PG admissions for rendering services in rural areas for a period of one, two and three years respectively. However, the non-government service doctors and PG aspirants term it as 'discrimination and injustice' with the meritorious candidates.
A group of aggrieved young doctors from GMC, Srinagar stated that "incentive marks scheme kills competiveness, resulting in braindrain and promotes inefficiency."
"We appeared in the All India NEET PG exam this year and qualified it with excellent All India rank. Despite our busy and hectic internship schedule during the period of turmoil last year we qualified. However, just when the admission process was due, the in-service rural candidates who were lagging behind in the merit list sought incentive marks, that pushed us from top to bottom in the ranking table," they said.
"The MCI regulation 9 provides that state "may" give incentive in the form of marks to the in-service candidates and nowhere is it mentioned that it is mandatory," said the young doctors while urging the state government to take their pleas into consideration.
"Someone who was at a rank of 800 (barely qualified as in JK only 1000 candidates have qualified for PG) now because of getting 30% incentive marks will not only figure at rank 60 but will further go on to avail RBA/ALC/RS categories to be functionally in the top ten ranks! How will this be beneficial for the state? We don't know how working in the rural areas gives them an edge over us in becoming better cardiologists/neurologists/pediatricians, etc., than us?" they questioned.
"Competitive exams are solely based on merit. Giving so many incentive marks hits the very purpose of a competitive exam. It forces young doctors to go abroad where our capabilities are highly valued. We are not against serving in the rural, but we are against the incentive marks scheme," they said adding that doctors working in rural areas should be given bigger salaries and more allowances and off days to encourage recruitment there.
It may be noted that "our state is already overburdened with reservations like RBA, ALC, RS (for rural areas) CDP, OBC, OSA, sport categories."
A senior health department official who talked on condition of anonymity said that incentive marks are being awarded as per the MCI directions to encourage doctors to serve in rural areas.
He said that supreme court while giving its judgment on plea of Rajasthan doctors has recently stated that the admissions to post-graduate medical courses as per NEET ranks will take place in accordance with the MCI Regulations after giving incentive marks to MBBS doctors who have served in government health facilities in remote areas.