Kerala medical students protest government service bond

October 3rd, 2008 - 7:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Kozhikode, Oct 3 (IANS) Students of five state-run medical colleges in Kerala will strike work Oct 6, demanding repeal of the compulsory bond that requires them to work in government service for at least two years.The students Friday organised protest marches in all government medical colleges and announced their plan for agitation.

The bonds executed during admission to medical courses, including under-graduate, post-graduate and super specialty courses, require the medical students to work for a certain duration in the government service.

The Kerala Medical Post-Graduates Association which will lead the strike has formed a Joint Strike Committee for the agitation enlisting the support of graduate students and those in government service working under the bond.

“We will hold a token strike Oct 6 and later we will consider an indefinite strike if the government fails to meet our demand,” said Sanu P.M., president of the association’s Kozhikode chapter.

The strike is likely to cripple the government medical college hospitals as the students and doctors serving under bond constitute a major portion of the work force in these hospitals.

“In Kozhikode college, there are 34 anaesthetists. Of these, only 20 are permanent staff. The rest are PG (post-graduate) students and doctors serving under the bond,” said T.V. Murali, a student of the college.

“A student joining one of these colleges for a graduate medical course at the age of 18 will be at least 38-years-old if he does his PG and super speciality courses and completes the bond. This is while the students in 16 private medical colleges in the state face no hassles of a bond,” he added.

Sanu pointed out that the medical colleges are still continuing with the staff pattern of 1961. “The government is not making any new appointments in the colleges and the bulk of the work are done by the post graduates and ‘bonded doctors’”.

Those working under the bond are not even eligible for maternity leave during the period. “If some one take leave, the bond period will be further extended,” Murali added.

The students argue that the bond should not be made applicable to them, as during the three-year medical post-graduate course, they are working in the hospital and are not sitting in classrooms.

In Kerala, the stipend for post-graduate students is Rs.10,000 per month, which students say is much less compared to their counterparts in other states.

“We are resorting to the strike after the government failed to respond to our repeated pleas,” Sanu added.

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