Hundreds of aspiring young doctors in Maharashtra are dismayed and anguished. Reason?
The ghost of reservation is back now to haunt them.
Those applying for postgraduate diploma courses this year have been personally jilted since the state government introduced quotas for economically weaker sections (EWS) and socially and educationally backward classes (SEBC) late last year.
As per the final list released by the state common entrance test (CET) cell, 3,913 students are currently vying for 1,489 PG medical degree and diploma seats in the state-run and private colleges.
As much as 50% seats are reserved in the state and the recently announced 10% and 16% of the seats go to candidates under EWS and SEBC quota takes the total reservation number to above 70%.
Sakshi Jain (name changed), a PG aspirant and pass out of Pune’s BJMC, says she feels personally attacked. “It’s a horrible feeling to see a reserved candidate at a rank of 30,000 or 40,000 get seats in brilliant colleges. While at 5,600, I’m getting nothing in a government college.”
She adds: “There are 16 open seats for Paediatrics out of a total of 71. There are three open Psychiatry seats out of 14. I won’t even get Psychiatry, which is my second option when I should have got it very easily at my rank.”
Some students have also claimed to be suffering from low self-esteem and depression since and are considering repeating a year or seeking admission to foreign colleges.
Like Sakshi, many other talented medical practitioners have taken the hit. While they know they cannot do much to change the system, they are hoping there would be a stay in implementation of the new quotas, which, if in place, would far exceed the total permissible limit of reservation at 50%.
Speaking about the same, another PG aspirant, Rohan Rao, contends, that the NEET examinations were held before the reservations were granted by the state, and therefore should not be applicable this year.
He added, that a petition on the same was filed before the Bombay High Court, which refused to stay the implementation for the time being and said it would give a verdict after a fortnight.
Rao points out, “That would not help the cause of open category students as the admission process would be mostly over by then and introducing a change in all of that would be way too cumbersome.”
The students now plan to move to the Supreme Court, hoping for relief at least for the current year.
Parents of some PG aspirants said as per a report by Hindustan Times, “This is a matter of the constitutional rights of our children and as per SC, reservation cannot exceed 50% in order to maintain equality, which the state of Maharashtra has failed to adhere to. We have very little option but to wait for the final hearing at the Bombay HC. Our next option is to seek help from the apex court.”
The students have also started a social media movement on the same using #murderofmerit and #savetheunreserved, where they are planning to tag politicians, journalists, officials, and all other concerned authorities, to ensure that the right people take cognisance of the issue.
Reservation has been a controversial subject in India for years. Experts have justified the need for reservation for the upliftment of socially and economically backward sections of the country.
Notably, in the 1993 Indra Sawhney vs Union of India case judgment the Supreme Court said that the total number of reserved seats/places/positions cannot exceed 50% of what is available and that under the constitutional scheme of reservation, economic backwardness alone could not be a criterion. The debate and anguish, however, continues. – Money Control