“Aapko PG seat chahiye?” “1 cr ka ek”
Just like Nov-Feb is the season of Weddings, it is also the season of Medical Seat Booking. Indian Medical Post Graduation Seat Booking. The season of Indian Medical Under Graduate Seat Booking is March-August, right after the PG seats are done. They said that if I wrote on this topic, I would be sidelined/not given a seat even if I get a rank etc. But I can’t possibly be more sidelined than what I already am. I’m a, Twenty-Three year old Unemployed ( The age by when most other professionals have already finished their education & 2 years of establishing a career) Average, Open Category (Oh! It’s like the biggest curse to be born with in India!) Medical Graduate/Doctor who completed her MBBS (5.5 years) in Feb 2014 from a Private Institute in Mumbai(which holds a fairly good reputation). All the “Bold” words are more than enough to have me sidelined. I’m now preparing(read struggling) for my Post Graduate Entrances only to get in a clinical stream in a government/”prestigious” autonomous medical college of my beloved country solely, to serve its people and make a reasonable living out of it.
But how can I?
How can any of us?
Everyday I keep getting numerous messages and phone calls asking me if I’m interested in BUYING A PG SEAT? The racket is so strong,vicious and persistent that these agents don’t hesitate once before asking so openly! It’s like you’re out in open selling peanuts!
Here’s how a typical Agent-Doctor conversation goes:-
*The phone rings.
Agent: Hello. Aap PG mein interested ho? Aapko PG seat chahiye?
(Me thinking.. obviously chahiye!)
Agent:(Hehehe.. chalo ab try karte hai) Aap kismein interested ho?
(Me thinking.. WOW! I’m getting options too!)
Me: Matlab? Koi bhi stream available hai ?
Agent: (With full confidence) Haan haan..bilkul! Jo aap bologe.. Radio,medicine,Gynec,Ophthal,Ortho. Kuch bhi mil sakta hai. Aapko kahan chahiye?
Me: :O Government mein!
Agent: Private mein toh abhi ke abhi kar sakte hai.. Medicine ke liye 1.2Cr + fees, Ortho 1.4Cr +fees, radio 1.8cr+fees etc etc. (Like a uddipi restaurant menu). Government ke liye main call mere senior ko forward karta hoon. Rates utne hi hai!
Senior Agent: Aapko govt mein chahiye? Domicile kidhar ka? Kaunsa stream? Location?
Me: blah blah blah
Senior Agent: Aapne form bhar diya? Application number much de do. baaki saare documents bhi. Answer sheet blank chodna exam pe. baaki dab hum dekh lenge.. down payment of Rs.7 Lakh has to be done and the rest you pay directly at the govt. office to the officer before the merit list is out. You come to our office.
Me: (now furious)How will you do this? How is any of this even possible? How can you openly talk to me about this without even knowing who I am! What if I’m a police man’s daughter?
Senior Agent: We’re in this business for the last 20 years! We are not like other frauds sitting out there. We’re very genuine. We know how the system works. We have 2 reputed doctors from the govt. involved in this. So its very easy for us to manipulate your answer sheet. And even if you study honestly, how will you get in? 50% category reservations, 10% other reservations,10% NRI/management. You just have 20% in open category. Out of which most are non clinical. In the clinical ones also, half is with agents like us. Aap padh hi loge toh kitna? Rank toh milne se raha! (Utmost arrogance ,pride and shamelessness).
*I Hang up. Call ends!
I often tend to ignore such calls. But it does get me thinking. No offence to anyone but is a doctor that worthless in a doctor-deprived country like India? Common man doesn’t want to visit a MBBS anymore. A fresh MBBS would get Rs.25,000/ month in a high end city like Mumbai as compared to a fresh engineer getting more than Rs.45,000/month along with other incentives like being picked up and dropped off at home, phone bill clearance etc. With over 60,000 medical graduates passing out each year, a mere 35,000 seats exist. No one aims to study MD Anatomy or MD Biochemistry. 95% dream of clinical branches, which are barely 14,000 (including diplomas). Of these 14,000 a straight 7,000 is for SC,ST,OBC, another 2500 for In-Service, a few hundreds for defence, disputed areas, handicapped etc; leaving barely 4,000 for the Open Category. Out of which according to these agents and a lot of senior-junior interaction, around 1000-1500 are bought off. So really, how many are there left?
In India, I don’t get to choose my leader and I don’t get to choose the subject I want to build a career in. No wonder those Page 2-3 headlines in the newspaper “Ob/Gy resident commits suicide in hostel” come as a surprise to every non-medico and medico’s-parents. It is so deep rooted that these goons are proud of it. And who would you resort to? Who has the time? Do I waste 2-3 years after MBBS filing a court case and losing it anyway or try and study? People still buy. It is exorbitant but there are people buying these seats. Not because they voluntarily want to but because of these unfair systems. What option does a MBBS doctor have even after trying in these exams for 3-5 times and still not getting in? It doesn’t mean he’s less deserving. It is not the case, usually. No student dreams of studying at Deemed Colleges that we have here. And even if he’s done his UG there due to untoward circumstances (because of the same racket a little less amplified at the Undergraduate pre-med entrance exam), he still wants to do his PG from a govt. institute. But does he have a chance?
Are we giving him a chance? The competition is cut throat at the ratio of almost 1 seat:150 students. The entrance exams are a mess by themselves. National Board of Examination(NBE) charges Rs.4,500 just to appear for an exam! Even after meticulously filling the form, you get an exam centre you never even opted for. Then a series of mails and phone calls. On the day of the exam, servers fail. Unfair means are tried, bribery merrily goes on and finally after all this is over, “ABC States and XYZ Colleges REVOKE PG SEATS DUE TO POOR INFRASTRUCTURE”. And after all this, even when a doctor gets through his PG, media along with face-valued personalities make news saying, “Doctors take commission from Pharmaceutical companies”, “City docs charge heavy fee” etc. Great! All of this very much happens in Government Medical Colleges as well. It is just that, they aren’t as openly spoken of or brought about in news!
It is horrible that such systems are prevailing in our country. The MCI guidelines for medical education were last updated in 1987. It is 2015!! Even the Censor board guidelines were updated in 2014! Oh of course! My dear government is busy banning PK, hiking prices, giving speeches, cutting ribbons, slacking security, promoting scandals etc etc.
With Narendra Modi being the PM, a lot of citizens saw hope. And still are. It’s not just NaMo but it is with every changing government, people hope. Hope to see a positive change. If you are listening Mr.Narendra Modi, I would really want you to bring a change in this system. Increase the number of seats, validate some more, raise the standards, impose heavy genuine inspections, STOP THIS RACKET!Its not just the agents that are involved. The magnitude of this problem and the number of people and authorities involved are well known by you and your subordinates. It is just a matter of you all doing something abt it!
Until then, more than half the Indian Medical Graduates will keep settling in US/UK/Australia/Germany/UAE while some will work under the mandatory bond while the rest will be staying at home and studying/migrating to other career options. And just about a handful of really really really good muggers will keep serving the 1.21 billion people of the country.
Meanwhile, justice is being murdered.
P.S. What’s with using words like “Deemed”, “Bond”, “Donation”? Aren’t we better taught?
Author: Dr Suranjana Basak, Founder and Editorial Director, Lexicon