J&K medical colleges were reserved for local students but it changed as J&K admin gives nod to 15 per cent All India Quota.
SRINAGAR ‚ÄĒ Medical seats in Jammu & Kashmir colleges, which were restricted to local students till recently, have been opened to applicants from mainland India via the National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET), raising concerns among the locals.
Jammu & Kashmir, which was categorised as a union territory in October 2019 after the abrogation of erstwhile state‚Äôs Special Status, has agreed to adopt the 15 per cent All India Quota (AIQ) each medical college has for students from outside a certain state/union territory. Additional Chief Secretary Vivek Bhardwaj announced that from this year, J&K will pool 15 per cent of its MBBS seats in the All India reservation quota.
The adoption of a 15 per cent quota is making residents in Jammu & Kashmir anxious amid larger worries that the scrapping of Article 370 and Article 35A will fuel a surge of outsiders into the union territory.
Dr Junaid Yousuf, a Medical Officer said that the 15 per cent quota is sheer injustice to the younger generation of doctors as well as to the people of J&K.
The seats pooled to AIQ will be utilized by people outside of the state. The candidates will leave after completing their degrees, leading to a vacuum of specialists in the state, he said.
‚ÄúThe vast majority of people in J&K are dependent on public health care which includes govt. hospitals. Since there is no mandatory bond to serve after completion of post-graduation in J&K, half of the candidates after completion of post-graduation will leave the state leading to a crisis in already strained public healthcare and worsening of doctor-patient ratio. So in the larger interests of people of J&K, the govt should take a relook into the matter.‚ÄĚ
In other states of mainland India, such as in Uttar Pradesh, a student will have to sign a 10-year work bond if he chooses to do PG in UP, while someone from UP will take his PG degree after 3 years and fly back to UP.
The National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) is the entry-level entrance examination for all undergraduate (NEET-UG) as well as postgraduate (NEET-PG) medical and dental courses in India.
Until 2016, the All-India Pre-Medical Test (AIPMT) was the national-level entrance examination for medical colleges, while state governments used to hold separate entrance tests for seats that were not contested at an all-India level. NEET was held for the first time in 2013. It was discontinued the following year.
Then Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir and Justice Vikramjit Sen had said that NEET would deprive the states‚ÄĒstate-run universities and medical colleges‚ÄĒincluding those enjoying the constitutional protection (Jammu and Kashmir), of their right to admit students to MBBS, BDS and postgraduate courses as per their own procedures, beliefs and dispensations.
On April 13, 2016, the Supreme Court upheld the newly introduced section 10-D of the Indian Medical Council Act. Section 10D of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 mandates conducting a uniform entrance examination‚ÄĒnamely NEET‚ÄĒto all medical educational institutions at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. It said that the provisions of the Act to conduct NEET will apply across the country without any exemption.
Jammu and Kashmir had been retaining all its seats for local students and opting out of the All India quota. Aspirants from J&K seeking admission in the All India Quota were required to file an undertaking that they will not stake a claim at the reserved seats in J&K.
Presently there are 180 seats each in GMC Jammu and GMC Srinagar, 100 each in GMC Kathua, Doda, Baramulla and Anantnag, 115 in GMC Rajouri and 125 in SKIMS Medical College Bemina. In addition, 100 MBBS seats in ASCOMS Jammu.
J&K residents see the incorporation of AIQ as suppressive and said that the government takes decisions without consulting the local stakeholders. ‚ÄúMy brother appeared for NEET and scored 500. Many of his friends from UP and Delhi scored way more than him but they weren‚Äôt able to secure a seat in their states due to heavy competition and high cut off. But, due to reservation, they made it to J&K,‚ÄĚ Mehdi Saleem, a local resident said.
He said that it seems unfair that the people with lower merit are getting admission, but that’s what NEET gives you. ‚ÄúThe introduction of AIQ in Jammu and Kashmir is primarily aimed at changing the demography of our land.‚ÄĚ
Since the NEET exams are being conducted by National Testing Agency (NTA), J&K BOPEE has been given a role for counselling and seat allotment only. Earlier BOPEE would conduct these examinations at the state level. BOPEE chairman Shafiq Raina denied speaking on the issue. Mountain Ink also tried to reach at least two senior government officials but none of the officials responded to the calls.
States like Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Delhi have had great levels of education for many years. But Jammu and Kashmir hasn‚Äôt had the same advancement in terms of competition and excellence in competitive exams.
Muhammad Saleem, a parent of an aspiring doctor told Mountain Ink that in Jammu and Kashmir people want the welfare of their own students and insisted that all the J&K seats be allotted to domiciles only. Although the medical seats have been increased in J&K, the introduction of a 15% quota has created uncertainty. ‚ÄúThe quota will bring students from outside states, mostly the ones who could not compete in their respective state, who don‚Äôt speak our language, and don‚Äôt understand our history and culture,‚ÄĚ he said.
Malik Osama, an aspiring doctor said that the quota will benefit outsiders rather than the locals. Anyways, a small percentage of local students would opt to pursue MBBS or BDS outside Jammu and Kashmir, without the 15% All India Quota. What has changed is that the outsiders will come here in huge numbers. ‚ÄúThey will take all our benefits and we‚Äôll be left begging. The government is coming up with such silly announcements,‚ÄĚ he said.
The fear among students has grown. ‚ÄúSome 150 odd seats will go to outsiders, but what about us who might have benefited from it,‚ÄĚ asked Areeb Mohammad, another aspiring doctor.
‚ÄúLast year I scored 515 marks but due to many reservations, I missed out. Even though I had scored more points than many others. The fear has increased this year. I have scored above 560 but I might miss out on a good college because of the 15% quota reservation.‚ÄĚ
Basit Parray is a trainee staff writer at the Mountain Ink. He is a bachelor's student of Journalism & Mass Communication at the Cluster University, Srinagar.