NEET PG 2021 ISSUE AND WHY DOCTORS ARE PROTESTING?

Reading time : 8 minutes

INTRODUCTION.

Thousands of resident doctors have taken to the streets to protest. Several protests have taken place in Delhi over the previous several weeks. A protest march was held near Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital. Another protest march was held from the Maulana Azad Medical College to the Supreme Court. Several further marches were held to the house of the union health minister. During these events, we witnessed a clash between the police and the protesters. People on both sides claimed that people on their side had been hurt, and the police detained numerous doctors. Around 4000 doctors have been held at Delhi’s Sarojini Nagar police station. Many doctors have also gone to social media in recent months to express their dissatisfaction with the numerous postponements of counselling dates. They took to Twitter with the hashtag # ExpediteNeetPGCounselling2021 and demanded an ‘urgent decision’ to set the dates. Nowadays, it is quite common in protests. The conflict between the police and the protestors, as well as the police’s terrible treatment of the protestors. This protest was initiated by the Federation of Resident Doctors’ Association. However, following the police raid, doctors from AIIMS and the Federation of All India Medical Association have now joined this protest. As a form of protest, the organisation has requested that all resident doctors, including those working in emergency services, quit from their positions. It has been occurring since the end of November. Many resident doctors have started to refuse to work.

The most important question here is why are the resident doctors protesting. What is the true cause behind this? And what are their demands?

NEET BACKGROUND.

The entire issue starts from the NEET PG counselling delay.

Until 2016, the national-level admission test for medical institutions was the All-India Pre-Medical Test (AIPMT). This was the admission test for a range of undergraduate medical programmes. However, in 2013, the government launched NEET, which sought to become the single national medical entrance test, with which one may get admission to any of the country’s medical/dental institutions. Initially, various petitions were filed against the NEET examination in order to prevent it from taking place. By 2017, however, the NEET test has superseded the AIPMT and other medical admission examinations in India. There were only a few other entry tests, such as the AIIMS and JIPMER. By 2019, these exclusions had also been replaced, and the then-Union Health Minister, Harsh Vardhan, stated that, beginning in 2020, all medical institutions in India will have a single admission exam: NEET. The NEET, like the common law entrance test (clat) for law, is now the admission exam for medicine. There are two NEETs: NEET-UG and NEET-PG. If a student intends to study undergraduate medical courses, such as MBBS, after passing 12th grade, he must sit the NEET- UG test. If a student has completed his graduation and wants to pursue postgraduate studies, such as MD (Doctor of Medicine), he must take NEET-PG for NEET Postgraduation. The obligation for conducting the NEET–UG was formerly held by CBSE, but in 2019, this responsibility was transferred to NTA (NATIONAL TESTING AGENCY), a government agency founded expressly for this purpose, to carry out various tests and recruitments. However, the National board of examination in medical sciences, an autonomous agency under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, oversees conducting NEET-PG.

WHY ARE RESIDENT DOCTORS PARTICIPATING IN THESE PROTESTS?

WHO ARE THESE RESIDENT DOCTORS?

When one does graduate medical courses like MBBS, a part of it is theoretical. A part of it is the practical training. It happens on the ground. Think of it as medical internship. These doctors usually reside on campus, that’s where the term ‘Resident doctors’ comes from. In our country friends the resident doctors are very burdened. According to health ministry data from June 2018, there is only one state-run hospital for every 55000 people, and only one government allopathic doctor for every 11000 people. Because there are so few doctors in India, these resident doctors fill in the gaps.

The supreme court issued an order in 1922 that simplified the working hours of junior resident doctors. It established a daily work restriction of 12 hours and at least one weekly off-day on a rotating basis. However, despite this directive, it is not fully executed. Even now, resident doctors must work extremely long hours. Sometimes they labour 15 hours, sometimes 18 hours, and sometimes they must work 20 hours in a day. In order to express their worries to the government about bad working conditions, they created the “I am overworked” campaign in 2019. Last year, when we thought about the country’s corona warriors by banging plates and clapping, who were the corona warriors, the frontline workers? Most of them were resident doctors. Because most senior doctors do not work on the front lines.

DELAY IN NEET-PG COUNSELLING 2021.

NEET-PG EXAM

According to the standard procedure, this exam is held in January each year, and the admission process begins in March-April. However, due to the corona pandemic, the Centre postponed the exam from May to September, with the results being announced at the end of September. Now, in January 2022, the date for conducting the next year’s NEET will be announced soon, but the admission process for last year’s candidates has not yet begun.

Why? Because the case has been blocked in the courts. Numerous judicial lawsuits concerning the revised reservation requirements were filed, causing the counselling to be postponed from the original date of October 25, 2021. The Centre then informed the Supreme Court on November 25, 2021, that it would be reviewing the Rs 8 lakh annual income criterion for EWS applicants, after the highest court questioned the reasons behind the Centre arriving at this amount. However, the Centre also noted that the review process would take about 4 weeks, implying that the counselling would be postponed for that length of time.

Typically, 50% of the seats for admission fall under the ALL INDIA QUOTA COUNSELLING and 50% fall under the STATE QUOTA COUNSELLING. That is, people from across India can apply for 50% of the seats, while the remaining 50% is reserved for candidates from the state. Only residents of that state are eligible to apply for such positions. There are many sorts of reservations in the ALL-INDIA QUOTA; before 2020, there were three categories of reserved seats. SC, ST, AND PWD, however the BJP administration announced in July 2021 that there would be two additional reservations in the ALL INDIA QUOTA.

Quotas in NEET-PG Counselling:

NEET-PG seats are given based on the candidates’ preferences, subject to availability and reservation. There are reserved seats in the all-India quota for SC, ST, non-creamy OBC, and PWD applicants. There is also a quota for EWS. According to the new reservation criteria announced for NEET PG admission beginning in the 2021-22 academic year, the 50 percent all-India quota of seats would be allotted based on a 27 percent reservation for OBC (non-creamy), a 15 percent reservation for SC, a 10 percent reservation for EWS, a 7.5 percent reservation for ST, and a 5 percent reservation for PWD candidates.

Meanwhile, the state quotas, which are administered by the individual state medical councils, are subject to the state’s reservation rules.

ALL INDIA QUOTA (AIO) SCHEME:

“The AIQ was enacted in 1986 in response to Supreme Court (SC) directives to give domicile-free merit-based chances for students from any state to study at a medical institution in another state. It accounts for 15% of UG seats and 50% of PG seats in government medical institutions. The remaining places at state medical/dental institutions are reserved for students who live in their respective states. In Abhay Nath v University of Delhi and Others, which was held in January 2007, the Supreme Court ordered that 15% reservation for Scheduled Castes and 7.5 percent reservation for Scheduled Tribes be included in the AIQ in January 2007. Until 2007, there was no reservation for medical admission inside the All-India Quota. The AIQ was enacted in 1986 in response to Supreme Court (SC) directives to give domicile-free merit-based chances for students from any state to study at a medical institution in another state. It accounts for 15% of UG seats and 50% of PG seats in government medical institutions. The remaining places at state medical/dental institutions are reserved for students who live in their respective states. In Abhay Nath v University of Delhi and Others, the Supreme Court ruled in January 2007 that 15% reservation for Scheduled Castes and 7.5 percent reservation for Scheduled Tribes be included in the AIQ.”[1]

So far, how has the reservation policy been implemented?

Until 2007, there was no reservation for medical admission inside the All-India Quota. “In Abhay Nath v University of Delhi and Others, the Supreme Court mandated that 15% reservation for Scheduled Castes and 7.5 percent reservation for Scheduled Tribes be included in the AIQ on January 31, 2007.” [2]This, however, did not apply to AIQ seats in State medical and dentistry universities. “The 10% EWS quota mandated by the Constitution (One Hundred and Third Amendment) Act of 2019 has also been introduced in central educational institutions, but not in the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) AIQ for state institutions. Following this ruling, the Reservation for OBC and EWS categories under the AIQ will be available in medical institutions beginning with the current academic year.” [3]This decision will benefit thousands of students in the areas listed.

“The Central Educational Institutions (Quota in Admission) Act of 2007 established a 27 percent reservation for OBC students in central government institutions. While state government medical and dental institutions offer OBCs with quota in seats outside the All-India Quota, this advantage has not yet been extended to seats awarded under the AIQ at these state colleges. The 10% EWS quota mandated by the Constitution (One Hundred and Third Amendment) Act of 2019 has also been enforced in central educational institutions, but not in the NEET AIQ for state universities.”[4]

What has changed now?

“Reservation within the AIQ for OBC and EWS groups will be available in medical institutions. According to a report stated by the Health Ministry, this will help around 1,500 OBC students in MBBS and 2,500 OBC students in postgraduate studies, as well as approximately 550 and 1,000 EWS students.”[5]

“According to a study by the All-India Federation of Other Backward Classes Employees’ Welfare, roughly 40,800 seats have been given under the AIQ in institutions sponsored by state governments between 2017 and 2020. As a result, up to 10,900 OBC students would have been denied admission under the OBC quota.”[6]

RETURNING TO THE ISSUE, despite raising the number of reservation seats, the government did not add extra seats as compensation. The quantity of available seats remained constant. Undergraduate and postgraduate medical/dental courses are included in the new restrictions. Two groups of doctors petitioned the Supreme Court in opposition to the new reservations. The hearings for the lawsuit began, and it was revealed during the proceedings that the government has set the top ceiling for eligibility at an income of 800,000 rupees per year for the quota for the EWS, the reservation for the economically weaker sections.

Consider this: Can a household earning 66000 rupees per month be considered “economically weak?” Can they be included in the category of the economically disadvantaged? Only 6.45 percent of our country’s 130 million population pays RTI to the government, and fewer than 3 percent of inhabitants pay income tax in the country. The minimal tax slab in 2011-12 was 160000 rupees, according to the laws. Why am I making a comparison to 2011-2012? Because the statistics of just 3% paying income tax dates from 2011-2012. It meant that if your total taxable income in a year was less than 160000 rupees, you didn’t have to pay income tax. And 97 percent of the population fell into this category. So, the 10% of EWS, or poor individuals, also come into this group, as do those who are not in the top 97 percent. What sort of reservation has 97 percent of the individuals who fulfil the description?

The petitioners at the Supreme Court said that it made no sense. The Supreme Court requests a response from the administration.

During the hearing in October 2021, the Supreme Court requested the government to explain the logic behind the Rs. 800,000 maximum limits. The information that they used to arrive at the figure. The panel further stated that the OBC limit is Rs.800,000 as well. However, because OBCs are socially disadvantaged, imposing the same limit on the EWS would be inappropriate. It’s incomprehensible. Because a lower-caste, economically disadvantaged man is at a greater disadvantage than an upper-caste, economically disadvantaged man. As a result of their castes.

CONCLUSION

According to the court, the government is using the same restriction to make unequal equal.

This isn’t a murder mystery that will take weeks or months to solve, but the lawyer defending the government is taking his time, and the Supreme Court is taking its time to rule. On the 25th of November 2021, the government of India declares that the ceiling of Rs. 800,000 will be revised in four weeks.

This four-week wait has now become nearly a year for these 50000 doctors. Their one year is gone. Because their exams were scheduled for January, and they were meant to be admitted by April. However, they were unable to obtain entry until recently. The protesting resident doctors’ desire is simply that the case be expedited so that their counselling may take place and they can begin attending medical school as soon as possible.

But what exactly do we get to see? The cops are treating them violently, and they are standing there in riot gear, as if they are terrorists rather than doctors.

Thankfully, no one has begun suggesting that the “genuine doctors” are working in their clinics and that these are “fake doctors” who are demonstrating, as we observed during the farmer demonstration, where these trolls used to spread these tales.

The hazardous phenomenon in this country is the attempt to discredit protesters by labelling them anti-national.

Protests were viewed as a battle for one’s rights a decade ago. Protesters were treated with dignity. The demonstrators’ demands were valid at the time. And are the demonstrations we witness today’s demands similarly valid? 

The covid third wave has hit the nation when doctors are on there protest , impacting to our nation health growth, what difference do their protests make to us? The medical community has supported us a lot, we are sawing from last 2 years.

By 2030, India will have to produce more than 20 lakh doctors to reduce the burden of existing doctors who are already working more than 100 hours/week. Knowing this shortfall, if the covid coming wave goes out of control, who will be responsible for this huge mess?

We need some way out because if 2022 becomes like the last two years, just because of carelessness, and protests of resident doctors, then there won’t be anything more unfortunate. Just like we need our soldiers and farmers to grow this nation. In the same way, all the medical doctors are the backbone of our nation and we should not stop them from serving the people and India.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

[1] The All-India Quota for NEET, and OBC, EWS reservation, The Indian EXPRESS, August 7, 2021.

2The All-India Quota for NEET, and OBC, EWS reservation, The Indian EXPRESS, August 7, 2021.

3The All-India Quota for NEET, and OBC, EWS reservation, The Indian EXPRESS, August 7, 2021.

4The All-India Quota for NEET, and OBC, EWS reservation, The Indian EXPRESS, August 7, 2021.

5The All-India Quota for NEET, and OBC, EWS reservation, The Indian EXPRESS, August 7, 2021.

6The All-India Quota for NEET, and OBC, EWS reservation, The Indian EXPRESS, August 7, 2021.


[1] The All-India Quota for NEET, and OBC, EWS reservation, The Indian EXPRESS, August 7, 2021.

[2] The All-India Quota for NEET, and OBC, EWS reservation, The Indian EXPRESS, August 7, 2021.

[3] The All-India Quota for NEET, and OBC, EWS reservation, The Indian EXPRESS, August 7, 2021.

[4] The All-India Quota for NEET, and OBC, EWS reservation, The Indian EXPRESS, August 7, 2021.

[5] The All-India Quota for NEET, and OBC, EWS reservation, The Indian EXPRESS, August 7, 2021.

[6] The All-India Quota for NEET, and OBC, EWS reservation, The Indian EXPRESS, August 7, 2021.

Author: MOHIT SHARMA, SYMBIOSIS INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY

Editor: Kanishka VaishSenior Editor, LexLife India

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