After Medical Counselling Committee (MCC) issued a notification that Jammu and Kashmir is likely to participate in All India Quota (AIQ) for PG courses under NEET, many doctors and students of medicine have registered their protest and criticised the move, saying that it affects both the students and healthcare infrastucture in Jammu and Kashmir.
Dr Zainab who appeared in PG exams this year says, “we can’t compete on the national level, we don’t have the infrastructure which states of India have. How can a student of conflict zone compete in the same exam where students from other states are appearing.”
Wajahat Mir, a 2nd-year MBBS student says he is very anxious after he heard about the proposal. He says that students don’t have a normal life in Kashmir.
“We are hit with back to back unrests. The education system is badly affected by conflict in the state.”
MCC has said that they have referred the proposal to the J&K government for its approval.
The PG medical aspirants say they were not informed about the possibility of this proposal at the time of their exams this year. No prior notice was given to the students.
With the sudden decision, informed only “after the results of the PG entrance test” students fear that they may lose their chance of selection.
In a total of 472 PG seats, 124 are for SKIMS, where outsiders can get 100% quota, and in the remaining medical hospitals of J&K, there will be 50% reservations for them, if the AIQ is implemented in J&K.
“Students have appeared for exams while keeping the state competition in mind. They had no idea that this exam can go to all India level,” a medico says.
However, it is not just the career of students that is at stake, experts say, but the healthcare infrastructure itself which will suffer.
“Right now people of Kashmir are not understanding the gravity of this issue, people feel that it’s only about medical students, but it’s more about common people. Not only medicos, but others should also start protesting,” Dr Zainab says.
Experts says that it is the doctor-patient ratio in Kashmir, which at present is far less than reccomended, which will suffer the most.
“Doctors from the Indian states will leave Kashmir once they will complete their degrees,” who will treat patients in Kashmir then?” Manan Bashir, an MBBS student questions.
Another barrier that may effect medical care, is language.
Wajahat Mir, says that as per ethics of medical science, they should communicate only in language that is understood by patients. He believes that language will be a great hindrance for doctors of Indian states.
“Even if doctors from outside stay here, patients will have to face communication barriers with them,” said Dr Zainab.
Presently, there is a massive shortage of doctors in Kashmir and the “health department is in shambles”.
Regarding the new proposal, students say, “if authorities don’t want to think about our careers, at least they should worry about people, who will be affected more by this move”.
An increasing number of students in Kashmir apply for limited PG seats from different Government medical colleges every year.
“Now even if these limited 472 seats will be shared with outsiders, how unfair will it be for a native student. Most students want to study and work in Kashmir only,” says Dr Saif.
“There are many students who attempt three-four times for PG entrance. For them going outside Kashmir for study is a privilege. Their home runs by their PG stipends, where will such people go?” Dr Zainab questions.
The students says that the authorities are ready to implement the quota in J&K, because protests have been registered, the decision is pending, and they are hoping things will change.
Political parties across the board too have criticised the move.
The Jammu and Kashmir National Conference and Altaf Bukhari’s Apni party on Thursday came out in support of students and cautioned the JK Government against participating in the All India Quota.
National conference said that the measure will expose JK students to a greater disadvantage as compared to their counterparts from the States of India because of being socially and educationally backwards.
In a joint statement the party members of parliament of India, Dr Farooq Abdullah, Muhammad Akbar Lone and Hassnain Masoodi said, “this we believe will further choke the already scant avenues for JK youth. It will prove detrimental to the interests of our youth. The decision will also have a cascading effect in terms of depleting employment avenues of our educated and skilled youth in JK and furthermore lead to brain drain.”
In another stament, Altaf Bukhari of Apni Party said, ”participating in All India Quota would prove highly harmful to the rights and interests of J&K Medical students and would risk their legitimate rights.”
“It will also decrease the number of local doctors, which will increase unemployment,” he added.
“It is totally ironic that there was no such condition in the BOPEE brochure or MCC notification at the time of submission of applications by the PG aspirants. Now the results have been declared and making an arbitrary announcement on behalf of the J&K government is totally bizarre,” he stated.
He urged the Lt. Governor led government in J&K to desist from making any such decision or otherwise the same will mar the future of PG aspirants of Jammu and Kashmir.