Bhagwant Mann on students (Photo Credit: News Nation)
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Punjab Chief Ministerial Candidate, Member of Parliament and State President Bhagwant Mann stressed on the need to fix the fees of medical colleges in the state and said all the state governments, including the Narendra Modi government at the Centre should think seriously about why students from different parts of the country including Punjab and Haryana go to Ukraine, Russia, China, Philippines and Tajikistan for higher education.
In a statement issued from the party headquarters on Sunday, Bhagwant Mann said that if thousands of Punjabis, Haryanvi and Indian students were stranded in war-torn Ukraine today, then the Narendra Modi government at the Centre, including governments of Punjab and Haryana, were responsible who never paid attention towards the compulsion of Indian students to go to countries like Ukraine for medical studies and higher education. According to Mann, these aspiring students, belong to ordinary and middle class families, who fail to get admission in the limited seats of medical colleges due to lack of merit and do not have the financial means to pay the hefty fees of private colleges.
Bhagwant Mann said that the Central and Punjab Governments had marginalized the government medical colleges in the state. No new medical colleges were established at the district level in Punjab after independence and there is only a slight increase in the number of seats of government colleges of Patiala, Amritsar and Faridkot. There are only 675 seats of MBBS, including 100 seats of Dr B.R. Ambedkar Medical College Mohali, and this figure is far less than Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. Although there are about 770 MBBS seats in half a dozen private medical colleges in Punjab where minimum charges ranging from Rs 50 lakh to Rs 80 lakh are being levied on the students for medical degrees. Students of poor and middle class can’t afford these seats even with good ranks and students with wealthy families get these seats even at mediocre ranks.
Bhagwant Mann alleged that the previous governments of Punjab conspired with the private education mafia to knock down government medical colleges and then let these private players to charge students as much as they wanted without considering Supreme Court’s order to regulate fees. On the contrary, government first increased the fee from Rs 20 lakh to Rs 30 lakh in July 2013 and then again in March 2014 to Rs 41 lakh, which is direct violence of Supreme Court’s 2004 decision that says no hike in fees for at least 3 years.
Mann said that health and education are the priorities of the Aam Aadmi Party. Following the formation of AAP government in Punjab, major steps would be taken to reform government medical colleges, universities and schools and to regulate fees of private educational institutions so that the students of Punjab would not be forced to study abroad. He asked that if countries like Ukraine can offer 6-year MBBS degree for Rs. 20-25 lakhs then why not India? He said that AAP government will also inquire about the root cause of Justice Majithia Committee’s failure to regulate fees.