The seats bazaar

Published : Feb 02, 2002 00:00 IST


KARNATAKA has 62 privately managed medical and dental colleges, the largest number for any Indian State. They are statutorily approved, but the manner in which many of them are run is a matter of controversy. Until 1993, seats in both undergraduate and post-graduate courses in many of these colleges were being "sold" for prices that varied from college to college and subject to subject. The price also depended on the extent of political or bureaucratic influence enjoyed by the aspirants. While the undergraduate admissions process was streamlined after repeated court interventions, 80 per cent of all post-graduate admissions continued to be solely in the hands of managements. Running a professional college collecting capitation fees was a profitable business. And starting one, given the cosy relationship between politicians and prospective managements, was easy.

Managements, in league with successive State governments, took cover under the Karnataka Medical Colleges and Dental Colleges (selection for admission to post-graduate courses) Rules, 1987, which enabled them to allot at least 80 per cent of the post-graduate seats in a "discretionary" quota. These rules did not stipulate any criterion to determine merit. The seats fetched Rs.5 lakhs to Rs.50 lakhs. The remaining seats were "offered" to the Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences (RGUHS) for allocation to candidates on the basis of their performance at the entrance test.

A Medical Council of India (MCI) gazette notification (Postgraduate Medical Education Regulations 2000) of October 7, 2000 had stated that only 50 per cent of the intake in a college should be filled by the managements. The rest should be filled by the government on the basis of merit. This regulation had not been followed. For instance, in academic year 2000-01, of the 946 post-graduate medical seats that were available in the 13 private medical colleges in the State then, 712 were filled by the managements and the rest (234, or 24.7 per cent) were allocated as government seats. Of the 273 post-graduate seats in the 10 privately managed dental colleges then, 220 were allocated under the management quota, and only 53 (19.4 per cent) were set aside for merit-based admissions.

The State government said that it could not implement the MCI regulations for 2000-01 because the notification came too late. But the regulations were not followed even for the current academic year (2001-02). The seat matrix issued by the State government on August 25, 2001, almost 10 months after the MCI's notification, showed that of the 956 post-graduate seats in 14 privately run colleges, 729 were earmarked for the managements. The remaining 227 (23.7 per cent) were to be allocated by the government. The story was no different in the case of dental seats. Of the 300 seats in the 12 private colleges, the managements had a decisive say in over 243 seats. Only 57 (19 per cent) seats came under the government quota.

State Medical Education Minister Dr. G. Parameswar told Frontline that the government had filed an affidavit in court stating that since the admission process had already started for the academic year 2001-02 it would follow the MCI guidelines from February 2003. But the court did not agree to this.

The managements also cornered nearly all the seats in the sought-after clinical branches in both medical and dental courses. This could not have happened without the help of the State government. For example, the managements had 45 of the 52 seats in the Doctor of Medicine (Obstetrics and Gynaecology) stream; 62 of the 70 seats in the Master of Surgery (General Surgery) course; 29 of the 30 seats in M.S. (Orthopaedics); 32 of the 33 seats in M.D. (Paediatrics) and all the 15 seats in M.D. (Radio Diagnosis).

In dentistry, the managements had 44 of the 45 seats in Master of Dental Surgery (Orthodontics); 41 of the 43 seats in Conservative Dentistry; 42 of the 51 seats in Prosthodontics; 22 of the 28 seats in Pedodontia and 39 of the 44 seats in Oral Surgery.

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