M A I N   N E W S

A tribune investigation
How The Seats Are Sold
n Agents deal in ‘pre-sold’ medical seats, n Impersonators appear for entrance exams, n MBBS seats going for Rs 60 lakh
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 28
The racket of unscrupulous agents securing MD seats in the prestigious Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research by charging a hefty price to aspirants, exposed by The Tribune yesterday, is just the tip of the iceberg.

For, the agents claim they can get admissions done in MBBS courses in several medical colleges, including some reputed ones, across the country. And that too for the “right price”.

Closer home, for a “confirmed” admission to a private medical college in Ludhiana, the Mumbai agent quoted a price of Rs 15 lakh in case the candidate was a boy and Rs 20 lakh in the case of a girl. The name of the candidate, the agent claimed, would figure in the merit list of selected candidates prepared by the college.

The agents offered to “book” a seat in the college for next year and also asked The Tribune team to give advance money of Rs 5 lakh by cheque to be deposited in his coaching centre account by way of “proof” for the booking of a seat in Punjab for 
next year.

The agents also promised admission to private medical colleges in Ambala, Jammu, Jaipur, Pune and Bhopal. Of the total package, which ranges from Rs 30 lakh to Rs 60 lakh, some amount is taken by the agent while the rest is paid to the college concerned.

This, according to the agent, is the “direct method of admissions” adopted by those private medical colleges who admit students on the basis of their own internal entrance tests. The medical colleges are allegedly completely involved in the sale of seats and these agents function as the conduits who “pre-sell” the seats on the behalf of the college.

In such cases, according to the agents, the candidate appears in the test himself. The internal entrance test is a mere show as only those who have “paid” the college for the seat in advance make it to the merit list.

However, for admission to institutes where pre-medical entrance tests are conducted by government agencies, the “admission agents” fall back upon impersonation to get confirmed admissions.

Interestingly, the agents also offered to get admission to any government medical college in the country by rigging the pre-medical all-India entrance test conducted by a central agency.

In such cases, the agents claim, they “manage” examination centres where an impersonator, who is fully prepared for the examination, appears in the test.

While this points towards the active collusion of the invigilation staff at the examination centres, it also hints at the presence of “link-persons” of these agents in the cities where the centres are “managed”.

The PGI, for instance, conducts entrance test for MD/MS seats twice a year. As the course is coveted, the competition is stiff. In January 2009, 6,000 doctors applied for the 85 advertised MD/MS seats. Hundreds of doctors take the test more than once, thus trying their luck several times.

The application form submitted by the candidate includes an admit card and an attendance card, both of which carry a picture of the candidate. While the candidate carries his admit card to the centre, the invigilation staff has a copy of it. Ideally, the staff matches the pictures pasted on the admit card and the attendance sheet. Impersonation, therefore, is not possible without the active connivance of the invigilators.

Other than the students enrolled in their coaching centres, these agents contact thousands of candidates across the country, offering them admission to medical colleges at the “lowest” possible rates.

These agents seem to have a data bank of all those candidates who are appearing for various entrance tests each year.

Many candidates in the city who were preparing for pre-medical entrance tests even received SMSes from these agents, offering MBBS seats for a price in colleges in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.

The SMSes they received were on the mobile numbers which these candidates had given in the application forms of the entrance tests.

With The Tribune having blown the lid off the scandal, it is time now for the authorities to act speediliy and effectively.





“We can arrange seats anywhere in India”
— Conversation with a Mumbai fixer

Posing as parents of Class XII pre-medical aspirants, The Tribune team talked to the Mumbai agent for admission to medical colleges in Punjab and nearby states.

Here are the excerpts of the conversation:

Tribune Team: Where is ******ji (partner). I want to talk to him about my daughter’s admission to MBBS course.

Agent: That work has to be done by me only.

TT: Actually, I had talked to ******ji (partner) about the admission of my daughter.

Agent: ****** works with me only. He has gone to Bangkok. He will come after a few days. He told me that your daughter has to be admitted to ****** (a private medical college), Ludhiana, next year. That work will be done.

TT: Look, I am being very honest with you. For people like Mrs Sharma, money is not a problem. She immediately agreed to pay the amount. But my family is not convinced. They say in case someone comes to know about the admission here, it will be a big problem. Can the admission be arranged at some other place?

Agent: We can arrange admission anywhere across India through the ****** (pre medical test conducted by a Central govt. agency). The work can be done wherever you want.

TT: What about Jaipur. ******ji (partner) was talking about a college there. Which colleges can you offer?

Agent: Admission to any private college is possible directly without any exam. This college in Jaipur is called ****** Medical College. Here the admission can be done this year also. Instant. The admission will be done immediately.

TT: No, my daughter has just moved into class XII this year.

Agent: She is not eligible this year. But we can get her admission done next year. Will Meerut suit you? Or will Ghaziabad be closer?

TT: What about a medical college in Haryana?

Agent: In Haryana, we can get admission done at ***** medical college at Ambala.

TT: Will the admission be through an entrance test?

Agent: There is an entrance test, to be conducted by the college. You have to come with us and pay the college directly. You will have to pay some amount to us. The child will appear in the entrance test. His name will be in the merit list and he will be selected during counselling.

TT: In this case, the candidate has to appear himself?

Agent: Yes, in this case the candidate has to appear himself.

TT: What about the all-India test conducted by **** (pre-medical test conducted by a central government agency)?

Agent: In that case, the student need not appear for the test.

TT: So, we have an option to choose from among Jaipur, Ludhiana and Ambala?

Agent: For MBBS admission, you have full liberty. Whichever college you select, we will be able to ensure admission.

TT: Is admission to ******college in Ludhiana through PMET? How will you manage admission there?

Agent: For admission to government colleges, the work is done only through merit. No donation or hanky panky works. The form is filled. The candidate does not appear in the exam, someone else does. He clears the exam.

TT: But how will someone else appear for my daughter? Will someone not find out?

Agent: We manage all that. The whole centre is managed.

TT: What about the college in Bhopal? My friend’s son got admission there.

Agent: It would be ****** medical college. Or maybe it is ****** medical college.

TT: How are these colleges? Can you get admission done there?

Agent: If you want, we can get admission done there. But they are not very good colleges.

TT: What about a good medical college in Maharashtra?

Agent: In Pune, we can get admission done in ****** medical college. It is a private college. You can book a seat in the college right now. The donation is Rs 30 lakh and the fee per year is 4.85 lakh. It is a deemed university. If you book now, the student will himself appear for a test and his name will be on the merit list.

TT: Is there no entrance test?

Agent: There is an entrance test in which the student appears himself. The test is only an eyewash. The college takes the payment for the seats and all those who have paid will figure in the merit list. The college is part of a deemed university and no outside body is involved, so manipulation is possible.



Text of SMSes received by students in the city

n MBBS admission @ Maharashtra/Madhya Pradesh @ lower packages and limited seats;
n Admission for MBBS in Maharshtra last 7 seats available in ****** (name of a medical college) Kohlapur, 10 + fees;
n MBBS admission @ lower packages. Only few seats 1. ****** (name) Medical College Kohlapur 10 + fees (25 lakh package) 2.****** (name) Medical College, Indore, MP, 13 lakh + fees (27 lakh package);
n Dear ****** (name of the candidate who applied for the entrance tests), no donation! Direct admission in Govt. MBBS College abroad. MCI/WHO recognised. Complete package @ 9.5 lakh (TF, hostel, mess) or pay Rs 2 lakh per annum;
n Secure your admission in best colleges of Madhya Pradesh/Karnataka for MBBS in your budget with pure transparency.




PGI sale of seats shocks alumni 
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 28
The shocking exposé of sale of MD seats of the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) has come as a big shock to many for whom their alma mater has always epitomised sheer excellence and perfect transparency.

Calling it a big blow to the institute’s decades old prestigious status, former director Dr SK Sharma says, “Getting a seat in the PGI is the dream of every medical student and securing one is very tough. The PGI has been known as an institution immune to all kinds of pressures. Having headed the institution for several years, it comes as a big shock that somebody has been able to buy a seat. The blot can only be washed away by severely punishing the culprits.”

Another former director Dr BNS Walia says that the institute’s admission process has come under the scanner for the first time and it is a big shock. “The PGI has boasted of transparency -- especially in admissions and academics -- ever since it was established. The entire medical fraternity knows that only hard work and skills can fetch you a seat in this dream institution.”

According to Dr Walia, if a scam truly exists, then the institution needs to strengthen its admission process. “The best way to deal with the problem of impersonation is making submission of a regular identification, like voter card and license mandatory,” he says.

Panjab University Institute of Dental Sciences director Krishan Gaba, who also studied and taught at the PGI, says the institute is not just an institution but an ideology; one that is based on excellence and perfection. “The revelation has shocked the medical fraternity. Transparency was imbibed in our conduct there and I am sure that institute will deal with it accordingly.”

Expressing shock and disbelief at the goings-on, PGI Sub-Dean Dr Amod Gupta says that the institute is already on the job. “For those of us who have studied here and are now serving this institution, it’s a big shock. The PGIMER has nothing to do with this racket and we will help punish the guilty. The institution has stood for excellence and will continue to do so,” says Dr Gupta.




Health ministry ‘shocked’
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 28
Union Health Secretary Sujatha Rao today said she was shocked at the news of alleged sale of post-graduation seats in the PGI and the ministry would look into all aspects of the case to determine its merits.

“This is unbelievable and very sad. We will look into the matter to ascertain the truth. If the CBI has raided the institute and made arrests, they must have had inputs about the same from sometime and must have been working on the case,” said Sujatha Rao.

“We had known of private colleges indulging in these things but had never heard, not even remotely, of money exchanging hands for seats in government medical institutes like the PGI,” she told TNS.

The Board of Governors of the Medical Council of India was silent on the matter, with chairman SK Sareen not returning calls or responding to messages sent by The Tribune to fathom their response.





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