New Delhi: Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has come down hard on the Medical Council of India for "punishing" MBBS aspirants instead of medical colleges for not complying with rules, which, he said, has ended up reducing the number of seats and harming career of many students.
Vardhan, who had earlier charged the regulatory body with corrupt practices, said it was an open secret for years that the MCI looked the other way as medical colleges rampantly flouted regulations.
"Suddenly, this year they have struck. But why are they not punishing managements? Students have been punished. For many of them the dream of becoming a doctor has evaporated as they would be forced to pursue studies in other disciplines," he said in a statement.
Though 2,750 new MBBS seats were approved this year, applications for the renewal of 3,920 seats were rejected by the MCI for the failure of colleges to meet its requirements, causing a net deficit of 1,170 seats.
MCI`s "adversarial" position despite his requests, Vardhan said, led to the Supreme Court dismissing the ministry`s plea seeking modification of the time schedule for granting approvals to new colleges and renewal of permission to existing seats in old colleges.
MCI took a "bureaucratic" attitude and did not reveal an awareness that it was dealing with young lives, he said, noting that most of the deficiencies in the colleges were minor like problems with air-conditioning or about the thickness of partition walls in buildings.
There was also the issue of the shortage of faculty which is an old irritant, he said, adding that permission was declined in some cases merely because college library did not have sufficient number of journals, a "irrelevant" issue in the age of e-magazines.
The best solution would have been to admit students and then pressuring the managements of colleges to take necessary steps, he said. Even though most of the colleges complied with the MCI`s demands, there was no acknowledgement.
"MCI officials took the shocking stand that they did not have time to go through the compliance statements," he said.
Vardhan said he had "personally" requested the MCI president to think of the fate of students instead of "placing a premium on the frivolous deficiencies of the colleges". "But it had no impact on her," he added.