Over the past two weeks there has been a massive outrage over the government decision to go for medical seat sharing in All India Quota (AIQ) with medicos saying it will jeopardize their career.
From political parties to civil society groups, all backed the MBBS doctors who aspire to appear in Post Graduate (PG) exams and those who have already appeared in the PG exams earlier.
The medicos who staged protests against the government decision to go for pooling of seats in AIQ say that MBBS students in J&K are one year behind their counterparts in other parts of India. They believe that going for AIQ will seriously affect them and they will end up losing academic years in future.
Last week, the Chief Secretary J&K Arun Kumar Mehta also convened a meeting with J&K Health and Medical Education (H&ME) department and JK BOPEE to discuss the issue of Pooling of medical seats in AIQ and the opposition shown by the medicos.
The decision for pooling of medical seats in J&K is opposed because the candidates say no such decision was taken prior to PG exams conducted by NBE New Delhi and the candidates had prepared for local competition.
It is also true that the J&K government on March 22 this year wrote a letter to JK BOPEE saying that there will be no seat sharing in AIQ for the current year but later the Medical Council Committee (MCC), Government of India announced that the J&K government was likely to participate in pooling of medical seat in AIQ.
It said the matter was sent to the J&K government for final approval. SO obviously when the decision was not taken before the NEET PG exams obviously the hasty decision on pooling of seats will go against the interest of students.
No doubt, the J&K Lieutenant Government (LG) recently announced that he will request the central government to defer J&K’s participation in the AIQ for the current year. The statement came in wake of his meeting with a delegation of NEET Post-Graduate MD/MS aspirants who called on him at Raj Bhavan last week.
Though the decision is not yet finalized as the health and medical education department is yet to take it formally with the Government of India but let is presume that the idea of seat sharing will be deferred for the current year. But will the candidate agree next year if the government announces its decision to share medical seats in AIQ, nobody can answer at this time.
The PG aspirants say that the coaching for medical PG exams is mostly given in the form of offline tuitions or online video programmes by various coaching institutes across India, but most of the time the internet in Kashmir remains shut which deprives them from attending the lectures or giving mock tests.
Under these circumstances, the MBBS doctors believe that they will not be able to compete with the rest of the country with obsolete resources. Now, the point here is who will take the guarantee that there will be no internet shutdown in the Valley and medicos will have no option but to agree with the government decision on the seat sharing.
It is also a fact that 50 reservations in Government Medical College (GMC) of Jammu and Srinagar besides 100 percent reservation in skims will decrease the number of local doctors considerably in these institutions which will drastically increase the unemployment among doctors.
The Medicos justify this statement saying that the outside candidates after doing their post graduation from local institutions will leave JUK for better opportunities which will severely affect the doctor patient ratio in Local GMCs and associated hospitals.
As per official figures, J&K UT has 543 postgraduate seats for MD and MS. While participating in AIQ it will contribute 271 seats. The J&K LG earlier said while contributing 271 seats, the students of J&K will become eligible for 5000 seats in MD/MS under AIQ which is an advantageous position for the local medicos.
It cannot be denied that local doctors will become eligible for more seats but medicos are worried about the entry of outside doctors here in J&K. This is because they believe that J&K has a rural majority population who have serious issues with communicating in Hindi and English.
So obviously, language barrier will be a very serious issue of medical negligence if people from other states will understand the language of patients.
Now, till a final decision on pooling of medical seats here is taken by the J&K government, fingers remain crossed as the government has stated that AIQ will be implemented for which the timing is being decided.
Coming to the NEET Undergraduate exams, the UG NEET exam was conducted on September 11 this year and the J&K government later announced that 15 percent of MBBS seats in the medical colleges here would be pooled in the AIQ.
For a while let us forget about the resentment of aspirants and the opposition by the political parties. But the main issue is that does the technicality allow the J&K government to opt for pooling of seats in NEET UG.
The J&K Lieutenant Governor last week announced that the J&K will contribute 15 percent to the AIQ for NEET undergraduate seats. As per official figures currently J&K has 1000 seats for MBBS. By participating in AIQ J&K UT will contribute 150 seats to AIQ.
The J&K BOPEE Act says that all seats for MBBS/BDS/BAMS/BUMS/BPT/DDH/Ayush in J&K UT shall be filled through the NEET examination only wherein 50 percent seats in MBBS/BDS will be reserved for females as per the Government rules on the basis of NEET scoring marks for academic session 2020-21 in accordance with Section 9 of the J&K Reservation Act, 2004.
For better appreciation Section 9 of J&K Reservation Act-2004 says that the government shall reserve seats in the professional institutions for candidates belonging to reserved categories and such other classes and categories as may be notified from time to time; Provided that the total percentage of reservation shall in no case exceed 50 percent.
The additional Chief Secretary of J&K health and medical has been briefed about the technical issues attached with the pooling of seats for NEET UG.
If J&K government will share 150 out of 1000 seats in AIQ that means 75 seats out of 150 seats should be given to female candidates. But will the Government of India follow the procedure as per the JKBOPEE ACT that is yet to be seen.
Another factor is that of the reservation seats, in J&K seats have to be filled by ST, SC, EWS, Pahari speaking and other backward categories but in GoI there are no such categories followed as is done in J&K.
“Central Government has its own reservation categories. They don’t have Pahadi speaking category and other categories which are in J&K. In the Centre, there are only ST, SC and OBC 27 percent seats,” a top official said.
Keeping all above points into consideration, the J&K government should thoroughly go through all the aspects of the issue and give a second thought to seat sharing in AIQ. Let good sense prevail.