Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss may have good intentions but even in his home state Tamil Nadu, his allies the DMK and the Left parties are opposed to his suggestion that medical college students be given their degrees only when they complete a year's service in rural areas.
Ramadoss' proposal was criticised Friday by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi even as the minister announced the country's first 200-acre medical park, to be set up in Chengalpet, outside Chennai, as a major manufacturing centre for high-end medical hardware.
He said that most medical students came from rural areas and that, "there could not be two opinions that medical students should have concern for the rural people".
However, the extension of the medical programme (for the MBBS degree) by one year for rural service "is not acceptable", Karunanidhi said.
Ramadoss had drawn criticism Wednesday from the Left parties that supported a black badge demo by medical students across the state.
Communist Party of India state secretary D. Pandian said that a majority of the students were from rural areas, "but the government should not increase the duration of the MBBS course, as it would affect the students, particularly the girls".
Speaking in Tindivanam on Monday, the health minister had told the media that his ministry was mulling a proposal to award the degree from next year "only to those who complete rural postings".
He said, 30,000 medical graduates across the country will have to work for four months each in the district headquarter hospitals, taluka hospitals and primary health centres under the supervision of the district medical officer.
Following this, on Wednesday, medical students across Tamil Nadu went on a flash strike. Nearly 1,300 students and house surgeons, including 500 girls staged a black-badge demonstration.