Days after he said corruption in the Medical Council of India (MCI) was the reason for falling standards of medical education in the country, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan is on a collision course with the medical education regulator, this time over its recommendation to scrap 6,387 existing MBBS seats, many of them in government medical colleges. This is in addition to the denial of permission to 50 new medical colleges that would have accounted for another 5,000-7,500 medical seats had they been approved.
The Health Ministry has decided to deal with the recommendations on a case by case basis and is mulling the constitution of an expert committee to look into the matter over the next month. “It is an unjustified move on part of the MCI. It is wrong to reduce medical seats, that too in government medical colleges, at a time when the country is grappling with medical manpower shortage. We will look into the matter on a case to case basis and reassess every recommendation. The benchmark of medical education should be standards, not how big the classroom is or how small the auditorium is,” Harsh Vardhan told The Indian Express.
Earlier, the MCI, after assessing infrastructure, faculty strength, etc in existing medical colleges and new ones that had applied for approval, decided to deny permission to an estimated 14,000 medical seats in these colleges. This caught the Ministry off guard, especially since it has been a stated policy that medical seats need to be increased. In January, the UPA government had cleared 10,000 more seats in government medical colleges.