MBBS students in medical colleges in Haryana are upset with the bond policy of the state government. They started a protest against this, which is still going on at PGIMS (Pandit Bhagwat Dayal Sharma Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences) Rohtak.
Pankaj Bitthu, a senior PGIMS student in pre-final year, says that if nothing is done to change the policy soon, MBBS doctors will launch full agitation and may resort to boycotting their duties at any time. Dr. Karan Juneja, President, Indian Medical Association (IMA), Junior Physicians Network, Haryana, informed that the policy was published in the Gazette in 2020 and a dispute over it has since arisen.
The contested policy
“It was introduced without any prior notification in November 2020, when the NEET UG counseling was ongoing, by the Directorate of Medical Education and Research (DMER) Haryana,” Pankaj said. Under the new policy, MBBS doctors were required to pay an amount of Rs 40 lakh as bail to the state government when opting for admission into a government college.
“Although it was introduced two years ago, due to COVID-19, students had not paid the amount. And now colleges are asking students to pay, both new admissions as well as students in the 2020 and 2021 batches. A few notices have already been issued to older students in this regard,” Pankaj said.
According to the clauses mentioned in the bond, the students had to pay Rs 10 lakh every year, from the first year to the fourth year at the time of admission and re-admission, as well as the tuition fees, the restless doctors informed. “The government allowed students to pay this amount in two ways: they could pay it themselves or the government facilitated a loan for them. As it is a huge amount, most students chose the loan option,” says Pankaj. .
As per the policy, he further informed that doctors are expected to serve in various medical institutions in Haryana for a period of seven years after graduation from MBBS. “Only after the successful completion of this period would the government repay the loans,” he said. However, the students said that strangely the policy does not guarantee them jobs.
The bones of contention
1. Lack of jobs
“Term 9 of the policy does not oblige the state government to provide employment for MBBS graduates. With this uncertainty, the future of students has been jeopardized,” said Akshat Mittal, a student from the class of 2020 of the PGIMS. And on top of that, students claim there aren’t enough jobs in the state.
“The cadre of civil medical services in Haryana is already full. The last announcement for medical positions was made in 2020. Around 400 positions were vacant, against an excess number of applicants,” Pankaj said. The next batch of jobs was announced this year. “If we look at the data from the Haryana Civil Medical Services Review conducted on April 10, 2022, 7424 aspirants appeared to be filling the 962 vacancies,” Akshat added.
In both cases, the students report that the positions were filled immediately, and that many remained on the waiting lists. “The government’s assertion that there are not enough doctors in the state is clearly false, as we are seeing about eight times as many aspirants as there are available places,” Akshat said.
It may be noted that students in the 2020 and 2021 batches were required to sign an affidavit stating that they would eventually pay the amount, which would only be reimbursed by the government if they were employed, as per the policy mandate. . At the time, students raised the issue that there were not enough jobs for everyone.
“A line was then added to the affidavit stating that in the event that a student fails to secure a job despite their best efforts, the government MAY intervene,” Pankaj said. “There is no clarity on what will happen if students do not find jobs,” he added. And there will be no such affidavit for students who joined in 2022. “They must pay directly,” the senior student added.
Overall, students are also irritated that the government has introduced the bond-for-service policy so that students do not leave Haryana after MBBS but do not guarantee jobs. And even before a student gets a job, just before starting college, they are asked for money for no good reason. “This is an initial fundraiser in the name of a bond,” said Hardik, another student in the class of 2020.
2. High fees lead to loss of merit
The protesting students informed that they are being asked to pay the deposit amount of Rs 10 lakh every year along with the tuition fee which amounts to Rs 52,000-Rs 80,000. “This means that in total, a student has to pay around Rs 76 lakh in four years,” Pankaj said.
“These are government colleges and deserving middle-class students choose to be admitted here. If they are asked to pay such a sum from the start, how are they going to do it?” Hardik asked. Akash Mehra, also a senior student in the pre-final year, added that even students from economically weaker sections (EWS) were asked to pay.
“Many students are admitted by taking a student loan as is, and even if they get a job after MBBS, they earn around Rs 48,000 per month. Including 8% loan interest rate and others expenses, it is very difficult for a student to repay the amount,” Akash added.
Due to these problems, deserving students opt for admission to semi-public colleges. “PGIMS is the best government college in Haryana. But the number of deserving students has been steadily declining. This year, only three students have been admitted here,” Akash said.
Pankaj added that he has already met Haryana Chief Minister Khattar in this regard and discussed the matter. “But no changes have been made to the policy,” he said.
3. A very long period
“Seven years is too long to serve. No other state government has such a long bond period,” Pankaj said. Additionally, students said they were unsure if they could opt for higher education like PG courses during this time. “It’s been two years, and yet the government needs to clarify the situation,” Hardik said.
The protests of the present
On November 1, students from the affected MBBS batches (2022, 2021 and 2020, belonging to the first, second and third years) staged a peaceful protest march from the principal’s office inside PGIMS to medical mode, a point to the exterior of the main college building. gate. Akash said the protest took place between 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
Later, the principal called the students for a meeting. “We got permission from the manager to continue our protest peacefully,” Hardik said. “The motive for today’s protest was to raise awareness of politics. Tomorrow (November 2) we will meet the Vice-Chancellor,” he added.
The students have already generated a signature campaign on the policy and collected approximately 500 signatures. They are either demanding that the policy be abolished or at least that appropriate changes be made to them. Organizations like IMA Haryana support students in their application. It may be noted that a complaint was filed against this policy earlier in the State High Court by students, doctors and parents, but it is pending.
Protests are also taking place at other government colleges in Haryana namely Shaheed Hasan Khan Mewati Government Medical College (SHKM), Gehbar; Kalpana Chawla Government Medical College (KCGMC), Karnal; Bhagat Phool Singh Mahila Vishwavidyalaya (BPS), Khanpur and Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Government Medical College, Faridabad.
Several attempts were made to contact PGIMS officials for comment on the bond policy, but contact could not be established. This report will be updated if and when a response is received from the authorities.