Published: 05th October 2019
Welcome to reason: Should new Doctors have to serve in villages first?
The very idea of ‘commandeering’ newly qualified doctors to serve in ill-equipped village clinics with harsh living and working conditions seems abhorrent
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, and waste its sweetness on the desert air
The above lines are apt when one considers the harsh rules which compel newly graduated doctors at various levels to serve in rural clinics, often under severe terms and bleak living and working conditions. The affected doctors and their parents, who invested a fortune to acquire coveted medical degrees for their wards, have been agitating against this for years. The latest court outcome on the subject has been reported by The New Indian Express (26/9/19) and excerpted here:
According to the Bengaluru datelined report, every MBBS graduate (after the completion of their internship), every postgraduate (diploma or degree) candidate and every super-specialty candidate should render compulsory public service for one year, as stated by the Karnataka High Court on September 25, 2019. Upholding the ‘Karnataka Compulsory Service Training by Candidates Completed Medical Courses Act 2015’ and its rules, Justice Krishna S Dixit, however, made it clear that the Act and its rules being prospective in operation, do not apply to candidates who had already been admitted to graduation, post-graduation or super-speciality courses before July 24, 2015 — the date on which the Karnataka Act came into force.
The court directed the state government to lay down guidelines within two months on two issues, while disposing of the writ petitions. The first issue pertains to the regulations in determining the penalty amount, ranging from a minimum of `15 lakh to a maximum of `30 lakh, as provided under Section 6 of the Act, and also for the payment of the fine amount in just and reasonable installments. The second issue was regarding the deferring of compulsory service for a short period, or for providing a ‘split of the service period,’ in case of genuine difficulty not arising from any fault of the candidates, subject to reasonable riders so that the hardship is mitigated, on proof of reasonable grounds. The court ordered the state government to constitute a high-level committee or Grievance Redressal Cell within two months, to address the complaints of aggrieved candidates in matters relating to the imposition of fine, working conditions, infrastructural facilities, requirement of residence and commutation. While the court’s relief is welcome, the very idea of ‘commandeering’ newly qualified doctors to serve in ill-equipped village clinics with harsh living and working conditions seems abhorrent!
Thomas Gray’s lines with which we started imply the ‘wasting of human potential at the blossoming stage’. This is not a new subject but is often swept under the carpet as it is believed to affect the elite few who can afford the high costs of acquiring medical degrees. But there are also some who acquire their degrees through loans and merit-based scholarships. Clubbing them both together and painting them with the same black brush seems highly unfair!