In Mumbai: DMER proposes to exempt MPs, MLAs from rural medical service
Dr Heena Gavit, MP from Nandurbar district, had skipped her medical bond services after being elected.
Three days after HT reported how Dr Heena Gavit, MP from Nandurbar district, skipped her medical bond services after being elected, the Directorate of Medical Education and Research (DMER) said that they have approached the state government to allow elected representatives to skip bond services after completing their graduation and post-graduation exams.
The decision has raised a furore among the medical fraternity, that alleged discrimination between meritorious students and politically-backed candidates.
On October 21, HT reported about the Right To Information (RTI) query, that authorities from Dr Gavit’s alma mater JJ Hospital answered. It said that the hospital had handed over her original documents despite the fact that she did not adhere to the norms of medical education after completing her post-graduation. It further said that she had not paid Rs 50lakh as the penalty set by state for students who opt out of bond services.
Dr TP Lahane, Dean of JJ Hospital and Grant Medical College, had said that there is a government resolution in effect since 2009 that allows MPs, MLAs and MLCs to skip bond services after they have cleared their graduation or post graduate medical exams. Refuting the claims, Dr Pravin Shingare, DMER director, said that the proposal is still in pipeline. “We had written to government about it, four to five months back. But no such GR has been issued yet. We are expecting a favourable response soon,” said Dr Shingare.
State officials, on the other hand, said that the application was moved only after the dean’s office received the RTI query from activist Chetan Kothari in June. “This is the only time when the response bears the dean’s seal and his signature, otherwise it is the administrative officers who sign RTI responses,” said Kothari.
Medical students and doctors’ associations objected the DMER move. Dr Jayesh Lele, president of the Indian Medical Association-Maharashtra, said that the decision would cause grave injustice to students because where on one side, a battle is raging over ‘no obligation to return to India’ (NORI) certificates being issued to doctors studying in the US, the state government is allowing the existing ones to skip rural stints.
“As per state and central governments, NORI certificates were restricted because of acute shortage of doctors. The government is training alternate medicine students to fill the vacant posts in rural medical centres. And yet, it wants to allow candidates to skip rural medical services just because of their political aspirations?” asked Lele.
Dr Swapnil Meshram, president of Central Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors, said that similar rules should apply for everybody. “We are going to take up the matter after Diwali. We have no issues with serving in rural settings but the rule should apply to everyone,” he said.
What the rule says:
According to the rules, every medical and dental graduate, post graduate and super specialty student has to serve at an assigned health care centre ubder the state for a year after writing their final exams. Students who dishonour the bond service will need to pay Rs15 lakh, Rs50 lakh and Rs2.5 crore, depending on their qualification. A government resolution to this effect was passed in May 2010.