India’s medical profession is controlled by the Medical Council of India, an opaque and self-serving cabal that has intentionally limited the supply of available medical college seats. Medical colleges must be recognised by the MCI, which has seen fit to permit only 381 to exist. That leaves only 63,800 slots each year in a country of 1.2 billion people – enough space for fewer than 1 percent of Indian students aspiring to attend medical school.
As if that were not bad enough, some of the seats are awarded against “donations,” with the wealthy essentially purchasing positions that their marks do not merit. Meanwhile, high-achieving students who just barely missed the cutoff have to find alternatives – or pursue another field altogether.
Those whose families can afford it often end up studying medicine abroad. Many do not return to India, depriving the country of their much-needed expertise. Some return after having attended obscure colleges in countries like Georgia or China, only to have the MCI refuse to recognise their degrees and block them from practicing. For those who cannot afford to go abroad – even bright students who barely missed the cutoff for a spot at an Indian university – studying medicine is no longer an option.
Yet India desperately needs doctors. According to the World Health Organization, the country has just 0.7 doctors per 1,000 people. In the United States and the United Kingdom – two countries to which Indian doctors often emigrate – the rate is 2.5 per 1,000 and 2.8 per 1,000, respectively. The crippling lack of capacity means that lives are lost every day – particularly in rural areas – for want of medical attention.
India could be graduating four or five times as many capable doctors as it does each year. Yet the MCI has been allowed to pursue its restrictive approach, depriving poor Indians of adequate health care, while augmenting the already-huge pressure on students to gain a seat in a medical college.
It is in this context – with a huge population competing for a tiny number of seats in professional colleges – that coaching institutes like those in Kota thrive. When succeeding in tough entrance examinations is the only way to fulfill one’s educational goals, test preparation becomes the be-all and end-all of schooling. Eager to satisfy pushy parents, young people sacrifice their own interests at the altar of a false god. The 56 pyres lit in Kota over the last five years are a tragic testament to how damaging this conception of academic excellence can be.
Source: The Daily Star