The National Medical Commission (NMC) announced a new regulation that sets standards for undergraduate programs in relation to the creation of new medical facilities, the launch of new medical curricula, the expansion of course capacity, and the evaluation and rating of Regulation 2023.
According to this regulation, the number of undergraduate medical seats for the upcoming academic year would be determined based on the population. The ratio given by the medical education regulatory body, the NMC, was 100 per million population. It had been explained by NMC that it was following the observations by several courts on the matter of overcrowding in medical colleges. The NMC claimed this move was to improve the standard of education and provide the right teaching environment for medical students. However, the regulation has received mixed reviews across the country.
NMC’s further claim was that this would increase the number of seats by 40,000 in states like Bihar and Jharkhand, where there is a 70% deficiency. Conversely, in southern states like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Telangana, and Union territory Pondy, it would impede the progress of their well-established medical educational institutes. Further, these states have devised plans to establish one government-run medical college hospital in every district of the state to increase the availability of quality medical care, even in rural areas. This new rule would restrict the planned expansion in these states, as they have already exceeded the said ratio by over 45%.
The NMC’s move to set a ceiling on the number of medical UG seats to remove regional disparities for medical professionals is perverse and irrational. Further, if this move is to improve the quality of medical education, which is the prime duty of this regulatory body, it can do so by enacting and implementing regulations to cater to improving the standard of education, commented the Deccan Herald. Hence, the southern states were triggered, and they declared their opposition to the regulation.
The Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu had declared his strong opposition to the regulation, as he remarked that this regulation is an example of the direct infringement of state rights and that it unaccountably penalized the states that had capitalized profoundly in the development of the public health sector and its infrastructure. Further, the government of Tamil Nadu has already been fighting to increase the number of seats allotted for specializations. The Medical Education Minister of Karnataka stated that they were not consulted about this decision and that it would affect the government’s plans to establish more institutions. Similar concerns were expressed by Telangana State as well.
This resulted in the abeyance of the regulation until the academic year 2025-2026, as reported in a revised notification dated November 15, 2023.
(Input from various media sources)