The amount of suspense, excitement, emotions and disappointment generated by the counselling drama, which takes place yearly, is to be endured to be believed. There is so much confusion between the central government, state governments, high courts with their own stays and in between counselling rules that are changed at the whims and fancies of those at the helm of affairs or their masters. NRI seats without appearing in NEET, Rural Medical Officers not to be given advantage of rural service, and increasing the fee of medical colleges many times on the day of counselling are some of the gems of exceptional brilliance demonstrated by Departments of Medical Education and Training in their notifications from time to time.
I sometimes wonder why the satta bazaar has not zeroed in on this game of lottery, quota, legal affordability, and yes some degree of merit. Students prepare for years to give the NEET exam in the naive assumption that their merit as per the NEET score will get them a post graduate seat in a branch of their choice in a college of their choice. Little do they know that when the time comes they will suddenly be informed of the changed goal posts.
How does one choose during the counselling process? Obviously, what is given in prospectus of various medical colleges is what is understood by the aspirants to be gospel truth. Some states have five-year bond to serve in state after PG, others give preference to their own graduates, some ask only for domicile, some have reservation for those who have served for 3-4 years in the state civil medical services. Over and above all this is the Post Graduate Medical Education regulations which came up with the brilliant scheme to award 10 marks per year of service in difficult or remote area upto maximum of 30 marks which brought total of some candidates at 106% of maximum marks obtainable.
Problem is that as in Punjab when of the seats available for State Counselling 60% of seats were reserved for the in-service candidates there were 40% seats which fresh graduates could aspire for and strive for. This was also true this year as per the prospectus issued. Now with the demand of 10% marks for every year of rural service, the fresh graduates will have no chance of getting a PG seat. High Courts are only too willing to demonstrate their importance by staying the counselling process (or at least not declaring the result, which means the same thing). This, however, creates innumerable problems for candidates already selected because the NEET counselling gives you only two chances and two days to join the college allotted to you with all the original documents failing which you will be debarred from the counselling process of the centre as well as the states. Refundable fee deposited is not to be refunded if you waste a seat waiting for the honourable High Court to take it leisurely decision in the matter.
The issue that you do not have posts to offer to all MBBS graduates who pass out every year in the state is a moot point. Once the 10% marks per year rule becomes operational, all MBBS doctors will want to join the service where again the “connections” and “bribes” for appointments and postings will play their part. Girls now have no business to be in the field of medicine unless they are happy being single for life. With 5.5 years MBBS plus 1 year study for NEET plus 1 year minimum rural service plus 3 years MD plus 3 years Post MD Bond they would be lucky to get time to get married and raise a family before menopause.
I fail to understand why those who disagree with the terms and conditions as published in the prospectus fail to approach the courts before the NEET or its result or the counselling. If the rules published are unfair they should be challenged but not during the counselling process putting lives and careers of many students at risk. It is also upto the courts to restrain themselves from interfering in the counselling process unless rules as published are not followed.
The entire process is repeated yearly and would be comical if it was not so tragic. Imagine the condition of resident doctors who joined as resident doctors in departments of their choice in KGMU Lucknow, worked for few months and after a decision by the Supreme Court were asked to vacate their seats for in-service doctors with 10% added marks per year of service!
Dr Neeraj Nagpal
Convenor, Medicos Legal Action Group
Managing Director, MLAG Indemnity,
Ex-President, IMA Chandigarh
Director, Hope Gastrointestinal Diagnostic Clinic, Chandigarh