Mumbai: The shortage of doctors faced by the state in the rural, remote and tribal areas has resulted in the authorities taking a decision to bring private medical college( aided and unaided) undergraduate students in the ambit of compulsory bond service on completion of their course. The next academic year shall see 500 of them from private medical colleges across Maharashtra having availed scholarships and freeships serving in rural healthcare facilities for a year with their peers from government-run institutes.
Those who fail compliance will have to return their scholarship amounts to the state with interest and pay other penalties levied on those who evade compulsory rural service.
An announcement to this effect was made on Friday. “The scholarships and freeships awarded to students in degree medical course are paid for by the people of the state. To have some returns and to ensure sufficient health care facilities in rural, remote and tribal areas, the state had been considering a proposal to make the bond service mandatory for students availing freeships in government-aided and private unaided colleges,” it read.
According to a recent report in the HT the state Directorate of Medical Education and Research (DMER) had proposed an extension of bond service to the beneficiaries of educational aid.
Medical education imparted in government-run colleges is subsidized, however, students belonging to various socially and economically weaker sections studying in private medical institutions get scholarships under various schemes of the state government.
Fees for students belonging to Scheduled Caste (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST), Vimukta Jati (VJ), Nomadic Tribe (NT) and Special Backward Category (SBC) are refunded.
A half fee waiver is also granted to students belonging to another backward category (OBCs) and economically backward category (EBC) – whose annual income is less than Rs 6 lakh.
Of the 7,000 students who graduate every year from medical colleges in Maharashtra, 1,700 are from private institutes. 500 of these students avail scholarships and freeships.
The mandatory rural service bond is not to be implemented in the case of post-graduate medical students, as no scholarship is awarded to them.
The decision though welcomed by most did have some express reservations. “The bond shouldn’t be mandated on the pretext of getting a return on scholarships. The government policy cannot be a trade-off. The government shouldn’t segregate students in an already divided society,” said Priyadarshi Telang, Convenor, Dalit Adivasi Adhikar Andolan, a Pune-based non-governmental organization.
He was of the view that the state authorities should make the rural stint mandatory even for those who don’t receive any direct educational aid. “These students also benefit from the state in the form of cheaper land and equipment for colleges. It feels that the socially and economically backward students are being punished for availing scholarships,” he told HT.
In an earlier story done by the Medical Dialogues team on compulsory rural service and private medical college students, it was reported that the Maharashtra state had decided to put its private medical college graduates to serve in rural areas to solve the problem of scarcity of doctors in these regions and also to provide the doctors with experience. These students after those in Government colleges will serve in rural health care centers and hospitals located in rural areas.
The Medical Education Minister, Girish Mahajan said a portal to ensure that medical and dental graduates serve in rural areas was going to be set up to keep a track. Students graduating from private medical colleges have to follow the same rule, the Minister added.
“This is a compulsion for government and civic-run colleges, so why not private colleges? I am going to make rural service compulsory for the state’s private colleges. This will solve the problem of doctors in rural areas and medicos will gain experience as well,” he had stated