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MBBS dream so near & yet so far
Grim seat-slash scenario dims hopes of aspiring medicos

Pankaj Kumar (20), who dreamt of becoming the first doctor of his village Salukdih in Ichagarh block of Seraikela-Kharsawan district, is now staring at an uncertain future.

After clearing the prestigious All India Pre Medical Test and securing a seat berth in PMCH, Dhanbad, the aspiring doctor doesn’t know what lies in store for him.

The Union ministry of health and family welfare slashed 160 of Jharkhand’s 350 medical seats at three state-run colleges, going by the Medical Council of India (MCI) recommendation that slammed institutions for being ill-equipped to train so many students.

It’s a move that may hit Pankaj hard because if the state can’t persuade the Centre into revoking the slash decision, PMCH seats will be halved from 100 to 50. The other two colleges, RIMS (Ranchi) and MGM (Jamshedpur) also stand to lose 60 of 150 seats and 50 of 100 seats.

Though Jharkhand is holding last-minute talks with the Centre, including Union health minister Harsh Vardhan, to save the seats, Pankaj, with a modest rank, is among the “around 150” according to state health minister Rajendra Prasad Singh who may lose their MBBS berths if the slash comes into effect.

“My life means nothing to me if I cannot pursue MBBS,” an emotional Pankaj told The Telegraph this morning.

Pankaj is among the lakhs of young Indians who believe that a medical career is a key to a better life. And, like many ambitious boys from modest families, he has worked hard to earn the key.

“For the past three years, I stayed at a rented house, cooked and cleaned on my own to prepare for the entrance test. I did not join any undergraduate course. I was on cloud nine when I cleared AIPMT this year and took admission in PMCH, Dhanbad. But now, my hopes are dashed.”

Pankaj’s parents call him at least 20 times a day as they are afraid of their son taking any extreme step. Father Bauri Mahto, a private school teacher in Seraikela, motivates him to be brave and not do “anything foolish”.

Like Pankaj, Tushar Kumar, also 20, is scared. Tushar, who had been pursuing BSc (agriculture) at Birsa Agriculture University (BAU), Ranchi, cleared the AIPMT this year and got admitted to MGM.

“I was studying at BAU for the past two years and simultaneously preparing for medical entrance. This year I cleared it. Through counselling I got a seat in MGM. But now if re-counselling is held in the wake of slashed seats, chances are high that I will have to go. Those with better ranks will retain theirs,” said Tushar.

On Tuesday, around 10 aspiring medicos who are afraid of losing seats approached The Telegraph in Ranchi to share their worries. They added they were going to every media house and politician they could think of, hoping someone would take up their cause.

“On an average, we spend 10 hours a day trying to meet people. Of these 10 hours, at least eight are wasted in waiting for big shots outside their offices,” said Ranchi’s Rudrangshu Banerjee (20), who got admitted to PMCH but now is unsure of where he stands.

Will the state ultimately fail to save its medical seats?

Tell ttkhand@ abpmail.com