Why JK medical students are opposing all-India quota

Medical Students of GMC Srinagar opposing AIQ in the campus. [FPK Photo/Zainab.]

“Thousands of students apply for PG seats in J&K, including repeaters and those who’ve done their MBBS from foreign countries. Less state seat share will only pile up aspirants and create a dearth of specialist doctors in Kashmir.”

Dr. Suhaib is staring at the critical medical situation — making him a ‘dissenting doctor’ for what he calls “a collective cause”.

In a state of desperation lately, he came out with his concerned class to oppose the decision feared to devour the seat share of residents of Jammu and Kashmir.

The medico was part of the Srinagar Government Medical College (GMC) sit-in against the implementation of All India Quota (AIQ) for Post Graduate (PG) medical seats under NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test).

“If applied to J&K,” Dr. Suhaib says, “AIQ will be disappointing affair for our careers.”

The concern first came last year when the Medical Counselling Committee (MCC) issued a notification that J&K is likely to participate in AIQ for PG medical courses under NEET.

It was notified that 100 per cent quota from SKIMS and 50 per cent quota from all other GMCs of J&K will pool with the All India Quota.

The move triggered protests forcing Lieutenant Governor of J&K Manoj Sinha to defer the AIQ implementation for a year.

“Although LG Sinha termed the AIQ a big opportunity for Kashmiri students to study in big colleges of India, he didn’t look at negative effects of this move particularly on students-health sector,” says Dr. Zahid Ashraf, a GMC Intern.

There exists a system of bondage in the mainland, he continues. Doctors have to work in states where they complete their PGs—especially in rural areas—for four to six years. “If they refuse to continue, they’ve to pay penalty,” Dr. Zuhaib, another protester in apron, says.

While such bondage isn’t there in Kashmir, the young doctor says, “the outsiders will flee after completing their degrees. This will leave Kashmiri people to suffer without doctors. Even if they stay, there’ll be many barriers between them and patients. One of them is language barrier.”

Already, he says, medics from J&K pursuing PGs in different Indian states have to stay there for longer time, again reducing the doctor-patient ratio in Kashmir.

“The patient-doctor ratio is somehow being survived right now,” the doctor continues. “It’ll be affected hard if AIQ is implemented in JK. The health infrastructure will stumble more.”

Student with a placard during the protest in GMC, Srinagar. [FPK Photo/Zainab]

Despite their defiance against the decision, these dissenting doctors believe that authorities won’t back track on AIQ. “That’s why we’re merely demanding to defer it for some years until the new medical colleges will offer PG seats to balance our state quota.”

In recent years, five new medical colleges were made operational in J&K—GMC Anantnag, Baramulla, Rajouri, Doda and Kathua—increasing the MBBS seats three times.

“Once this quota gets implemented, more MBBS graduates will have limited scope for going for PG,” Dr. Suhaib says. “Thousands of students apply for PG seats in J&K, including repeaters and those who have done their MBBS from foreign countries. Less state seat share will only pile up PG aspirants. Where will people go in this crisis? There’ll be a dearth of specialist doctors in Kashmir.”

With the PG entrance results around the corner now, these students are now getting paranoid about the government’s possible plan to implement the AIQ in J&K anytime soon.

“We’re in touch with our Jammu counterparts who’ve already met BJP state president Ravinder Raina for intervention in the matter,” Dr. Suhaib says. “We’ve sent our representation to the LG and Secretariat as well. We also plan to meet local leaders here in the coming days.”

Notably, in total of 522 PG seats in J&K, half are clinical dealing with patients and half are non-clinical related to teaching like Pathology, Physiology, etc.

If AIQ is applied, then only 172 seats would be reserved for the J&K students, contributing a loss of 350 seats.

“States like Maharashtra have PG seats in 1000s with which they perfectly balance their state quota,” Dr. Zuhaib says. “That’s why AIQ doesn’t bother them. J&K, on the other hand, has only hundreds of seats. If these limited seats also go to outsiders, what will be left for Kashmiris except agony. Moreover, there’re insufficient resources available for Kashmiri students, making it hard for them to compete with outsiders.”

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