Andhra Pradesh nowadays is being in the news for all the wrong reasons. The latest is the scam of unfair practices in the admissions to Post Graduate Medical Colleges.
A hue and cry and a lot of dust has been raised on the admissions, this year, resulting in the unearthing of suspected ongoing mal-practices and the arrest of a few ‘consultants’ (middlemen/brokers) and over 9 aspiring students.
As it has become increasingly difficult to get admitted into Medical seats, anywhere in the country, several ‘influential’ consultants, who form the bridges between the Institutes’ Management and aspiring students, have been facilitating (brokering) admissions at such costs that range between Rs. 5 million to 15 million (US $ 85,000 to 245,000 approximately).
If such huge amounts of money are being ‘invested’ the aspirants naturally would seek to recover the same as soon as possible (ASAP) and no wonder medical expenses in the country are increasingly becoming astronomical.
This incredible situation is the result of acute shortage in the supply of demand for medicine seats. In some states, it has become virtually impossible for the so called 'forward caste' candidates to enter into medicine unless they get 100% marks or are willing to pay huge ‘consideration’ money. In such cases, either the aspirant is under tremendous pressure to score the 100% or the parents to provide the huge money needed to ‘buy’ an admission.
This year, apparently, the consultants, as always, wanted to ensure their economic future, even at the cost of the future of the health of the citizens of the nation by encouraging aspirants to appear / sit for entrance examinations – but with a catch. The aspirants will be given the question paper and also the answers much in advance of the qualifying examination. The question paper which is supposed to be kept secret till the date of the examination has been ‘bought’ and supplied.
The aspirants were lodged in the houses of the consultants to ensure that no untoward ‘leakage’ of the leaking of the question paper takes place. It is alleged that a couple of students have actually been lodged in Mumbai and had to fly in to take their admission / entrance examination.
Several of the consultants from different states have syndicated together to form a cartel. The investigation is still taking place trying to delve in deeper (of course, only to the extent allowed by the ‘big brothers’ who also might have been involved in this-after all it is election time and all candidates need money for canvassing votes) and find out the depth and width of this ‘enterprising enterprise’.
So far it has been identified that 9 male candidates and 2 female candidates, who made payments ranging from Rs.7 to 13 million, have benefited by this scheme and out of these about 8 males and one female have been arrested along with a few consultants.
Whether any of the members of the management of the medical institutions would be booked is anybody’s guess. That would, of course, depend on who is behind the institutions and how connected / powerful they are. And connected / powerful they would be, for without connections one cannot even think of starting a Medical College. The printing press which printed the question paper naturally is fully suspected and news is awaited on the course of action to be initiated against it.
Now that in India such scams have become routine, I am not unduly worried about the legal outcome.
But what worries me is
1. If this is going to be the course of medical studies in India, how safe are the ill / sick of the future generation in the country?
2. Is it better to suffer and die at home rather than paying huge amounts of money only to suffer physically as well as economically and after all, only to die an inevitable painful (on several scores) and incredibly expensive death?
But on an immediate aspect,
3. What is going to be the fate of the arrested students who are already ‘qualified’ doctors / physicians?
I wonder whether the students have been forced by the parents to undertake this step so that the parents can plan for building up more corporate hospitals in the country which can continue to suck the blood of the people as leeches or demand unbelievable amounts of dowry (only in the case of boys)?
If not and only the students cajoled / coerced their parents to shell out the huge money, why did the parents agree?
In my humble opinion, even the parents should be arrested for their abetting / compliance role in the crime.
Apparently all the arrested aspirants were never bright students and quite a few of them had to sit in 4-5 times to clear several of their subjects while doing their M. B., B. S. It was their dismal performance earlier and the sudden star performance now in the admission / entrance examination that raked the mud and gave the game away.
Interestingly it was not the Government agencies that got the wind of this. No sir, the Big Brother was not watching or pretending as not watching.
It was the kid brothers (classmates) of these arrested aspirants who got the whiff of the episode when they suspected the ranks obtained by the select aspirants which were in the top 30s and when they themselves, despite their best of ‘natural’ efforts to perform, were relegated to much lower ranks as a result of this messy enterprise.
If all agencies concerned do not quell the issue credibly, and bring in serious and far reaching reforms along with implementation, most importantly, India will stand to lose much more as, today, India is considered as a ‘Health Tourist Destination’. But please, India cannot afford to be its usual complacent and procrastinating self, as neighbouring countries such as Singapore and Thailand, with their much better medical facilities and services are watching and we would stand to lose over to them sooner than expected.
But now the big questions before us are;
How will we know the quality of the future doctors / physicians?
How safe would it be for us to approach them?
Should we start practicing alternate medicines?
If so, how safe are such courses from this type of maladies?
What do you think? You tell me!
With continued Prayers for the travellers on the Malaysian Airlines MH 370, missing since about 24 days L
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Hemantha Kumar Pamarthy