Monday, August 27, 2001, Chandigarh, India



PMT: decision to drop 40 pc condition for SC candidates justified

The editorial “For whose welfare is it?” (Aug 11) is far removed from reality. The notification dated 25.5.2001 issued by the Department of Medical Education and Research, Punjab, imposed a double condition of 40 per cent marks both at the 10+2 level and in the PMT (entrance test) for the candidates from the Scheduled Castes category. Now the Government of Punjab has decided to withdraw this faulty notification. The earlier decision by the Department of Medical Education and Research was taken without taking the Department of Welfare of SCs & BCs into the confidence.

Now on the request of the affected Scheduled Castes candidates and some welfare organisations, the government has decided that when candidates from the general and reserved category need 50% and 40% marks, respectively at the 10+2 level for appearing in the PMT, then why should a candidate from the SC category again score 40% marks at the PMT level in order to get admission to a medical college? This double condition was a grave injustice to the SC candidates. No such condition has been imposed by the medical or dental council of India. Such a thing does not exist for admission to the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, nor in Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Chandigarh.

After having taken admission to an MBBS/BDS/BAMS course, a student has to go through the same course of study for the same period and has to get through the same final examination which is common for the students of all categories. The training and practical test etc are the same for all the students. While passing the MBBS examination, the Scheduled Castes students do not pass with any reserved marks but only after qualifying the standards as laid down by the prescribed university. Therefore, there is no substance in the hypothesis that the students from the Scheduled Castes category are not competent enough as they have to get only 40% marks at the 10+2 level for appearing in the PMT.


If one goes by the logic of your editorial, it would mean that the Scheduled Castes students passing out from the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and UT colleges are professionally incompetent because no such condition exists there.

Analysing this problem from various angles, the decision to revoke the condition of 40% marks at the PMT level for the Scheduled Castes candidates is fully justified. The Department of Welfare has issued a letter to Baba Farid Medical University, Faridkot for implementing the new policy.

SARWAN SINGH PHILLAUR, Welfare Minister, Punjab, Chandigarh.

Let merit prevail: Apropos the editorial “For whose welfare is it?” and Dr K.S. Raju’s letter, may I suggest that rather than arguing a case for or against reservations in higher education on the basis of caste (which has been going on for years and in any case is such an emotion charged and politicised issue that a dispassionate and objective debate on it seems impossible), we need to stop further debasing of it (higher education) and reserve it entirely for those who prove themselves worthy of it.

We should draw a sharp line between those who show promise of real achievement and those who should preferably follow the vocational track. College education should not be merely a right of passage or part of adolescent party time. It should be reserved for those who show the highest aptitude for it. It should be a mark of distinction and proof of achievement. Even in countries like the UK, France, the USA and Japan, not more than 10-15% of those who pass high school go to a college or a university.

Our naive belief that by lowering the admission criteria, anybody can be brought to the college level has brought colleges down to everyone’s level. The yearly influx of less than mediocre mediocrities has lowered the standard of colleges to the levels that the weakest ones can meet. Should a student who cannot even secure a 2nd division in the 10+2 examination, be considered to be “competing” for a seat in a medical college or “just trying his luck” failing which he will join his father’s business?

As of now, lots of young people with limited talent spend long years in what is drudgery of study for them and end up with hollow degrees in medicine, engineering, law, business administration or computer sciences and then face a bleak fate. If the purpose of college education is to enable one to get a better and more lucrative job, it is not unreasonable to ask what kind of return does a parent (regular or NRI) expect on an investment of Rs 20-30 lakh on a minimum of five and a half years of an MBBS course (add to that the money foregone in the years of study) at the end of which one is still unable to get a job.

Dr Raju’s argument that the compromised merit of a SC candidate at the time of his admission cannot be linked to his competence as a doctor would be perfectly valid if there was any merit in the examination system of medical colleges. As of now, this is characterised merely by a formality, both at the graduate and postgraduate levels, without any genuine assessment whether a candidate is fit to practise medicine. There is rampant copying in the written tests which, in any case, are taken lightly, both by the students and examiners, especially at the postgraduate level. Oral examinations are marked by universal favouritism, nepotism and the examiners’ anxiety not to declare such a poor result as would lead to a revolt against them. The result is that medical colleges are producing doctors whose professional incompetence, irrespective of their caste, will be a major hazard to the national health in the coming years. There should be no ambiguity on this point: The years spent in a medical college do not even out the difference in the merit of two different students. Only those turn out to be good doctors who were good anyway.

Let the politicians and other powers that be continue with caste based affirmative actions as long as it suits them or the society desires it but all right thinking people who endorse the pursuit of excellence need to build a consensus to let merit, rather than caste considerations, prevail over mediocrity in higher education, be it medicine or anything else. Why expect perfection from doctors alone? We need brilliant lawyers, economists and architects. Excellence should be demanded, regardless of the subject a college student is being taught.

An architect who plans a house so poorly that the roof caves in and kills the entire family of a lawyer, who, by his incompetence, leads you to a jail or the gallows is as undesirable as a negligent doctor.

Dr R.P. JINDAL, Amritsar


Security at railway stations

To ensure security at railway stations, all beggars/sadhus sitting at the platforms should be evicted. Only authorised ‘coolis’ should be allowed at the platforms.

Relatives and friends of passengers should not be allowed to go to the platforms. All vendors and rehriwalas should be properly screened. Platforms should be closed from all sides.

Parking places outside the railway stations should be properly guarded. Military men should not sit on platforms. Instead they should sit in the restrooms till the arrival of their train.


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