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An Indian resident with poor NEET scores has to struggle to get admission in a government medical college and seems as a dream, but if you are an NRI, your dream can come true through it.
Not only, private colleges have been commercializing medical education but few state governments too have joined the bandwagon in the name of making their colleges self-financing. Hence, 3%-15% seats are set aside for NRIs and few of them even have “management quotas”.
Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh -- and Puducherry have government medical colleges with NRI quotas. The NRI quota charges lakhs as fees, unlike caste-based quotas, which are to compensate for historical deprivation and backwardness. Generally, states claim that the quota is to mobilise funds for maintenance and infrastructure, which would earlier have come from the health budget. Gujarat has the highest number of NRI seats, 241, which is followed by Rajasthan with 212, Punjab with 41, Puducherry with 22, Himachal Pradesh with 20 and Haryana with 15 seats.
NRI seats are open not only to NRIs but also to those who sponsor them. Therefore, many can use this quota if they have a brother, sister or parent who an NRI is willing to give an undertaking to sponsor the entire course fee. If a student has no parents or is taken as a ward by near relatives, even NRI uncles, aunts or grandparents can be their sponsors. There have been several cases of candidates who fake eligibility, allowing greater scrutiny of candidates’ NRI claims.
Over 1,900 NRI candidates admitted in 2016 shows that almost three-quarters were unreserved category students, barely 3% belonged to SC/STs and rest were OBCs. The average NEET score of government quota students including reserved SC, ST and OBC seats in 2016 was 472.5 and that of NRI candidates in private colleges was 220.8 and in government colleges was 339.6.
The NRI quota fees in government colleges range from Rs 14 lakh to approximately Rs 20 lakh per annum. This fee is very high compared to the fee charged for the other government seats in most of these colleges (Rs 25,000 to Rs 1 lakh per annum) and is much cheaper than the Rs 30 lakh per annum charged by most private colleges for NRI seats.
Andhra Pradesh too earlier had NRI seats in government colleges, but has discontinued. Madhya Pradesh had about 28 NRI seats in government colleges till 2016, but discontinued the practice due to public protests. Last year, the Karnataka government had toyed with the idea of starting an NRI quota in government colleges, but dropped the idea as student organisations had threatened agitations.
Former vice chancellor of Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences and eminent cardiologist Dr KS Ravindranath explained that the reason for opposing NRI quota in Karnataka government colleges was because it would invade on seats for poor commendable students. The government should allocate more, but there are never sufficient funds to provide facilities for sports, research, simulation lab etc.
Former joint director of medical education in Madhya Pradesh, NM Shrivastava questioned the concept of using NRI seats to generate funds to improve the college. He said that the money earned from NRI seats was small in comparison to the resources required for running a college. Also, government colleges are meant for public welfare, for poor to get free treatment and for commendable students. They are definitely not meant to make money. Free education is the government’s job in a democratic welfare state and as a result, the government decided to put an end to NRI quota in MP.