Indian Doctors: Vilified at Home and Unwelcome Abroad

March 07, 2006

You probably didn't hear about this. The explanation is very simple. It has nothing to do with the IIMs or the IITs. It is about the fate of the thousands of doctors in this country. The All India Post-Graduate Medical Entrance exam was held on January 8, 2006. Over 57,000 students appeared and over 4,000 qualified the exam. The results were announced somewhere in early February. One of my friends was ranked eighth!

On March 1, however, we were shell-shocked when we heard that the counseling scheduled for March 3 was postponed and the entrance test results were withheld. The honorable health minister Dr. Anbumani Ramadoss woke up suddenly and ordered a CBI enquiry into reported malpractices at the Chennai centers. Some 37 of the top 100 ranks were from the same center in Chennai. One might wonder why they announced the results in the first place.

The same thing happened in 2002. The organizers should have studied the results before they had released them. But no, they were too busy making policies of such great importance like, um, ban on on-screen smoking.

The entrance test is one of the toughest. Doctors take off a year to prepare for this exam. One of the reasons is that this exam does not have reservation quota. The other post-graduate (PG) entrance exams such as the one for AIIMS have quotas. Why should we have reservations at the PG level? God only knows. Will you go to a doctor if you discovered he got his PG seat using the reservation quota? The hell you will.

Anyway, we don't know what this means. Will they have a re-exam and tax thousands of hard-working doctors to punish a bunch of losers? Or will they say "no discrepancies were found" and get on with it? We don't know.

The aspirants are devastated and haven't a clue what turn their life will take next, thanks to our sensitive and intelligent health minister.

What is the big deal, did you say? Doctors in our country struggle a lot. They start earning money - whatever little that is - in their late 20s. By that time, their software engineer siblings, cousins, and friends would have bought an apartment, a car, and what not. I know that we can't compare professions. Don't tell me about Oranges and Apples, cowboy.

Why do we screw our doctors? Their profession saves lives, right? Even our movies show doctors as evil, corrupt individuals who have no social responsibility. So, when they go on strike, we dish out harsh punishment. We sack them. When the bus drivers, phone department employees, or the electricity department employees go on strike, we bear with them. In most cases we give in to their demands. But not to doctors. They go on strike, they are fired. What kind of an unfair system is this? One that hurts its most valuable member.

The on-going strike by resident doctors in Maharashtra is a result of years of government apathy. Before we dig deeper, let me tell you how resident doctors in government colleges work. They work 18 hours shifts. They have no facilities. Their hostels are so dirty, quite a few of them sleep in the wards. And, they get paid peanuts. Don't think that the Maharashtra doctors are on a strike because of all that. They merely want security. This time a patient's daughter slapped a resident. All he did was that he sought permission for some post-mortem related thing. It is ironic that the life saving professional has to go through all this nonsense and be socially responsible too.

A citizen's group has filed a petition against the Maharashtra doctor's strike in the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court. The petition says that doctors in government medical colleges and hospitals have no right to go on strike, and demands compensation for patients who have suffered. [Via NDTV].
How many of these citizens visit only the government hospitals for treatment? Who are they kidding? We can't even hold a fair entrance examination. We don't even offer them basic amenities. We let people manhandle doctors. And now, we want them to shut up about their problems too. When they go to America, we call them traitors. We are such losers, it is not even funny.

Why do we expect others to be self-righteous when most of us individuals (even the software guys from Bangalore) won't even follow simple traffic rules? At times at the risk of causing injury or even death to our fellow motorists? But each one of us gushed and went into a tizzy of manufactured patriotism about that loser movie Rang De Basanti? Now, if you really want to make a difference start with the traffic rules. Stop honking, you retard. And get a real bike. Lose that Pulsar.

So, doc, I am okay if you go to USA or UK, become super-rich, and be happy.

Anyway, one may think that life is easier for Indian doctors in the USA. It was. But not any more. Check this out. In the UK, it has become worse: See here and here.

So there you have it. The Indian doctor is screwed in his/her own country and in the rest of the world too. If we don't start respecting these life-saving professionals and make some drastic changes in medical education policies, we will be at the receiving end very soon. Think about it.

Sumankumar lives in Bangalore. He blogs at http://sumankumar.com. He is a technical writer, but also claims that he is a fiction writer. ;-)
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Indian Doctors: Vilified at Home and Unwelcome Abroad


Author: Sumankumar


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March 7, 2006
11:04 AM

Cheap dig on pulsar riders (am not one), but otherwise agree on everything. Especially the bit about following traffic rules. My friend was waiting at a traffic signal and his car got bumped from behind by a bloody SUV guy who didn't want to stop. This was in Delhi by the way, where traffic cops have disappeared.


March 8, 2006
10:01 AM

Hi,I can only thank you for writing this post.I graduated in 2003, and I have been struggling so hard to keep up with the changing scenarios of job and pg opportunities at home and abroad.I have been lucky and managed to keep ahead of time, but I donot know how much longer.Your post has given me the much needed encouragment.Thanks.

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