Why You Need to Help Doctors Fighting Against the Reservation Policy for Post Graduate Seats #MurderOfMerit

Dr Roshan Radhakrishnan
Lost in between the news of what leaders say and promise - colourful, controversial or just cuckoo utterings - during election season in India right now are the images of young men and women wearing white aprons holding placards and posters across Pune, Mumbai, Nagpur and other cities of Maharashtra.

You may have skimmed past the images if they appeared on your timeline or put it down to the usual 'doctors crying because someone got beaten up' that we share (I know I do).

I wish you wouldn't.

This is different. To help get you up to speed, young doctors who have passed their MBBS and got good ranks in the post graduate exams in Maharashtra have found themselves at a loss after new reservations were added to the already existing ones, limiting the number of available seats.

Why you need to support Indian doctors fighting the reservation policy for post graduate seats

How bad is the reservation scenario for Maharashtra doctors, really? 

Well, let us check the numbers.

As a placard during the recent protest stated, an All India Rank of 4411 could not get any seat while an All India Rank of 36000 with reservation got orthopedics (one of the most coveted branches) at KEM, one of the best hospitals in Maharashtra.

Presently, the new modifications in the PG seat quotas offers a further 16 percent as a Maratha quota and 10 to Economically Weaker Sections in addition to over 60% previous reservations based on caste and other quotas.

You now have 233 out of 972 seats for government and aided colleges and an insane 37 out of 469 seats in private colleges available for students based purely on merit in the open category.

270 seats are available for merit students in an entire state which has over tens of thousands of students writing the exams. Do you see why the doctors are crying foul?

Engaging in whataboutery by saying we never talk about NRI or management quota is pure escapism - all it does is divert the topic without offering a solution even as the students are the ones to suffer.

Reservation at MBBS and Pg Level - understanding the difference.

MBBS seats
I have listened to and understand the arguments laid down by both the pro and against teams when it comes to reservation for MBBS seats. The playing field is unequal for students in schools across the country and yes, the underprivileged (I stress here underprivileged over caste) have been at a disadvantage passing and reaching up to this stage with limited facilities.

Post graduation Seats
The logic above does not apply to post graduates. I cannot stress this clearly enough. Allow me to explain this in as simple a manner as I can.

Unlike the transition from high schools to medical colleges, the transition from MBBS to a post graduate seat involves a level playing field.

All the students have had access to the same books in the same library.
The same cadavers in anatomy dissection hall.
The same clinical wards.
The same teachers.
The same classes.
The same hostels.
The same canteens.
The same patients.
The same laboratories.
The same mind-numbing 19 subjects.
The external examiners are from outside and do not know you.
The written papers are corrected by people who never see the students and don't know which paper belongs to which student.

This is the unfair playing field that everyone entered into being leveled over 5.5 years for every student by the time they pass out of their batch.

When they pass out now, they have had the same opportunities as everyone else. Thus, a rank of 4400 and a rank of 36,000 is exactly that - a huge difference in the caliber of the two doctors.  There is no caste, no religion, no minority and no money in the two ranks... it is purely the merit of the two doctors in that exam.

Why You Need to Stand Up for these Doctors Now

States and parties will continue to push reservations in various sectors to appease various sections. I get that, vote banks and all.  But it should be done sensibly and in the right sectors. Reservations for post graduate medical seats is a senseless decision taken by someone without the basic knowledge of what MBBS students have undergone for over half a decade and how inequality no longer is a factor when the young doctors sat down at the entrance examination hall.

Reservations in medical post graduate courses is an absolutely ridiculous idea.
Image source: The Hindu

Medical education in India has been a minefield for years now with an astounding level of apathy towards the students and doctors alike. Even the main medical bodies are themselves unsure today of who is running anything anymore, I kid you not.

I went viral in 2015 for stating that which, as it turned out based on the feedback I received, resonated in many an Indian doctor's heart- that 'I would never allow my child to become a doctor in India.' Four years on, I remain more convinced than ever that the Indian medical system is failing its doctors and destroying aspiring young minds. I still would not recommend the field the way it is heading.

But these doctors here are in the whirlpool now and even through their protests, tears and screams for justice, they are STILL far less cynical than I am... at least for now. They want to fight the horrible odds you've thrown to them and then serve you.

Most importantly, they have the rank.
They have the rank.
That is all that should really matter. They have the bloody rank which they earned through half a decade of toil and sleepless nights.

The final nail would be to tell them their hard earned rank means nothing. No, that is not right.
The real final nail would be you - the reader, whose voice can make a difference; whose voice still matters to politicians and decision makers more than these faceless students - shrugging, saying 'it is not my problem' and ignoring their cries right now.

Support these doctors today.
They are going to personally be your lifeline tomorrow more than any of these politicians you fawn over when bad times arrive in your household.

They will save you.
But they need you to save them right now.

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Let me know what you think.

  1. Students should become realistic and demand what can be achieved immediately without loss of much time.

    In simple words,

    1)They should first ask for additional number of seats for additional reservation quota and not from existing open category seat as compared to previous years. This has been done previously as well.
    2) In case problems arises in adding such number of seats at once for government, then this additional reservation should be applied for Students entering MBBS now and in Post graduation seat when their batch appears for the PG entrance, hence keeping a balance.

    These are emergency steps, which can very well be taken.

    Rest all discussion on merit etc will not help them now.

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