For the past month, MBBS students of Haryana’s government medical colleges have been agitating against the state’s bond policy. In face of the protests, on November 30, the government announced tweaks in the rules. However, the students have said they are not satisfied with the changes.
As per the policy introduced in 2020, MBBS students have to sign a bond-cum-agreement to compulsorily serve for seven years in government hospitals after graduating from state-run medical institutions. If they join a private job before that, they have to deposit the bond amount of Rs 36.8 lakh with the government.
Priya Kaushik, an MBBS student leader from Rohtak’s PGIMS, said they had been oposed to the policy since 2020, but could not launch an agitation then as gatherings were not possible amid Covid-19.
For the past month, students have staged protests in different forms including a chain hunger strike at PGIMS. According to the agitators, protests have also been on at Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee government medical college, Chhainsa; Kalpana Chawla Goverment Medical College, Karnal; SHKM Government Medical Collehe Nalhar, Mewat; and BPS Government Medical College for Women, Khanpur Kalan, Sonepat.
This was triggered by an aditional rule.
Kaushik said, “In 2020, the students were supposed to just sign a bond-cum-agreement. But from this year, medical institutes asked students to deposit a bond amount of Rs 9.2 lakh per annum at the time of admission. For four years, this amount adds up to Rs 36.8 lakh. Very few can afford to pay such a huge sum upfront. Thus, from November 1, we decided to launch an agitation.”
Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on November 2 announced that no one would have to pay the bond amount upfront. Instead, students would have to only sign the bond-cum-loan agreement with the college and the bank concerned.
The sole aim of the bond policy, the government said, was to meet the shortage of doctors in state-run hospitals.
The agitating students want that the period of compulsory government job be reduced from seven years to one year, and the bond of Rs 36.8 lakh be brought down to Rs 5 lakh. They are also seeking a guranteed job within four months of completion of the MBBS course. According to the agitators, the banks should be removed from the picture for bond purposes and the students should have a link with their institutes only.
After discussions with students, the governmnet on November 30 reduced the seven-year period to five years including postgraduate (PG) education, “eventually making the time limit of the bond as two years”.
The bond amount has been cut to Rs 30 lakh with the course fee included, and thus “the amount will come up to about Rs 25 lakh,” the government said. It was decided to give a 10 per cent relaxation to girls, excluding the institute fee.
On the question of employment, the state said MBBS graduates would get a government job (contractual) within one year of completion of studies. Also, if students take up a private job and their salary is lower than that given to a medical officer by the government, they will not have to pay the bond amount until their salary is equal to or more than the medical officer.
The students are not satisfied and have decided to continue their agitation. They say it would be difficult for MBBS students to wait for one year without a job after completing a five-year course. In addition, they are not satisfied with the rules of five-year compulsory service and Rs 30-lakh bond, alleging that no other state is imposing such “harsh conditions”.
However, on Thursday night, following the governmnet’s announcement of concessions, the Resident Doctors Association of PGIMS, which was also on strike in suport of the MBBS students, called off its protests.