Shame on our elitist, capitation fee based medical education

From the Government to the Judiciary, every agency is guilty of promoting the interests of a small group of privileged, upper caste doctors and the façade of meritocracy

The suicide of S Anitha, the 19-year old in Tamil Nadu after she failed to clear the National Eligibility & Entrance Test (NEET), has put a question mark on our medical education. The online NEET test puts most candidates who are poor, hail from rural or semi-rural areas etc to a disadvantage. Unless they can afford to pay through their nose for NEET coaching and pay extra for the coaching institutes to pull the required strings, they are finding it impossible to get admission in medical colleges.

We reproduce here an anguished and angry comment from someone who does not want to identified but would like to be known as an ‘ Observer with an Opinion’ :

How many more Rohit Vemulas and S Anithas will have to die before this country's conscience wakes up ? We need more of S Anitha’s ilk, many many more, so that the poor on India’s rural and urban areas can have access to decent medical care, and the doctor to patient ratio in the country can reach anywhere close to WHO standards. It is only when large number of doctors are produced by India who come from poor, deprived, marginalised backgrounds that there is any chance that the poor, deprived and the marginalised will have any chance of getting proper empathetic and compassionate healthcare. When the so called meritocracy of the small fraction of upper castes get into prized medical colleges with or without ‘donation’ which poor students like S Anitha, the motherless daughter of a labourer, cannot afford - nor could she afford expensive NEET coaching- what do they do?

They get their MBBS degrees, even PG degrees, and go abroad for the rest of their lives to earn hefty sums, lead high quality lifestyles, and serve the well healed populace of developed nations, eager to quit this “hellish underdeveloped and corrupt” country of ours- and often their aging parents as well! Or they set up private clinics and nursing homes, often while begging and keeping government jobs as well in Metro cities or other urban agglomerations, and leech off the Government Health system for at least a few years, giving short shrift to their poor patients at PHCs and Govt Hospitals while luring them to their private clinics for proper treatment if they can afford to be fleeced, and leaving them to fate if they cannot.

The elite in India, including doctors learn to callously ignore suffering and death around them as they prance around Rotary and Lions and other clubs and charitable organisations getting crowned as Saawan Kings and Queens, or Made for Each othercouples, and the likes while currying favour with the oligarchic bureaucracy and politicians, and eating the cream off big pharmas PR gifts and luxury holidays across the globe for pushing their drugs and medical equipment, good, bad and mediocre or indifferent, in their respective practices. We do not really need such “corporate jet setting doctors”, but we have to suffer them.

We will have to keep suffering at the hands of these insufferable, unpatriotic, inhumane , money grabbing drug- pushers till we train a huge army of S Anithas and S Amits or S Azizs and S Ameenas to go out like the barefoot doctors of China and replace our LMPs or jhola chhaap quacks in rural areas, ration the number of private clinics in urban areas to bring about doctor-patient ratio parity between rural and urban populations, and put an embargo on immigration of doctors trained in Indian medical college till such time as we have a surplus.

How much longer will the vast majority of Indians continue to be cheated by the unholy, oligarchic nexus between its elite which keeps 85 per cent of its poor, rural and backward population deprived of higher and technical/medical education and resultant services that they are entitled to? Is Indian meritocracy created only to service the populace of the developed ? Is this not neo-colonialism in a devilishly cunning form?

Why do we have such an affinity for the populace of developed nations and so little for our own?

Even racial and religious differences of the foreign populace do not put off our hypocritical Brahmanical, Sankritised elite in foreign lands, while caste and sectarian differences put them off millions of their own countrymen. And these NRIs have the cheek to call themselves patriotic and are being given voting rights because they give out convenient doles to political parties that shore up their elitist agenda.