By Mubashar Mashqoor Mir : It is strange to acknowledge that the MBBS medicos in our state of Jammu and Kashmir who undergo compulsory rotatory internship for a period of one year in the state run government medical colleges are given a paltry remuneration in the name of stipend which amounts to Rs 4800 per month for daily long hours, hectic duty in overloaded government hospitals of our state. It is unfortunate that these apprentice doctors who comprise of the brightest talent in the state selected through competitive exams are left cash-strapped at the start of their so called glorious career when their counterparts in other fields like management and engineering are earning high five or six figures.
It is astounding to discern that the internship stipends in government colleges have not been revised by the government for many years now notwithstanding the pay revisions in other sectors and the price rise of essential commodities over these years.
Majority of medical colleges of the country have revised internship stipends to the tune of Rs 9000 to 14000. As per sources interns in medical colleges of West Bengal get Rs 14,000, Assam Rs 12,000, in UP Rs 7,500, and so. Besides this handsome stipend is offered in medical colleges affiliated to central universities, medical colleges of the state of Punjab whereas the medical colleges in the state of Jammu and Kashmir are still lacking behind at large.
Medical colleges under Delhi University witnessed nearly 80 per cent hike in their monthly stipend, raising it from Rs 5,000 to Rs 8,900. This includes interns at Maulana Azad Medical College, Lady Hardinge Medical College and the University College of Medical Sciences ,a decision taken by finance ministry, which was backed by the HRD ministry.
It is essential to realize that the completion of MBBS degree course in India takes about five and a half years to six years or more including one year internship after passing twelfth standard and qualifying pre medical test and by the time the scholar arrives at the stage of internship, he is an adult already and is expected by his family to support their household monetarily but it becomes hard for these beginner doctors to even meet their personal expenses with such meager income which hardly amounts to what an unskilled laborer earns.
While the government of our state raised the stipend of doctors undergoing post graduate degrees a few years back after a lot of protest, a cognizant effort from the authorities is required to avoid flooding the roads again with white aprons and in a bid to preserve the nobility of the profession. The current internship stipend also screams out loudly about the ignorance of the MCI guideline which states that interns should be provided with a stipend of at least 40-50% of that provided to Junior Residents.
Interestingly, the private medical college of our state is a step ahead of the government medical colleges providing a comparatively higher stipend of around Rs 6000.One may wonder if management of a private medical college can afford a handsome stipend , why not the government medical colleges as the students of government colleges are usually from middle class or below middle class section of the society unlike medicos in the private colleges who mainly come from financially sound families besides the fact that patient influx and burden in the government medical colleges is much more.
This also reminds me of a write up by Dr. Jitendra Singh “100% hike for MLA’s” where the government is busy in self deciding increments for legislative members’ salaries and incentives and they have hardly any time to think of this noble fraternity which forms a core component of essential medical services unless they go on strike and medical services to the needy suffer. Our state has witnessed massive rise in the salaries of MLA’s and MLC’s but the amateur doctors are still waiting for a change.
It is high time that the young doctors are given a generous eye and a sound ear so that they have something to smile about and a career to be proud of.
Mubashar Mashqoor Mir is Former State President, Health Wing, NSUI (J&K). Member 3rd national conference and workshop ISRPTCON. Columnist & Freelance Writer