The Medical Council of India (MCI) is a apex body for instituting uniform and high standards of medical education in India. The MCI deeds over recognition of medical qualifications, gives accreditation to medical schools, grants registration to medical practitioners, and monitors medical practice in India, (this we now), According to recent updates MCI has permitted corporates and “for profit” institutions to start medical colleges in the country. Nearly 2 months after the Niti Aayog committee recommended privatisation of medical colleges, the general body of the council that met in New Delhi in November last week 2016 concluded to allow corporate companies to start medical colleges. If the Supreme Court-appointed oversight panel and the ministry of health and family welfare approve this, corporates can apply for new colleges.
So far, educational institutes are run by government or registered not-for-profit societies or charitable trusts. Foreign direct investment (FDI) rules also prohibit investments from foreign companies in these societies or trusts. Though a group of doctors in the general body raised concerns that allowing corporates will further commercialise education, a majority of them said that allowing corporates will improve standards to the level of Harvard and Oxford universities.
“Many private institutions are anyway making profit through non-transparent and illegal means. If we legalise corporates they would charge a very high fee, but they will be forced to pay income tax,” said Coimbatore-based laparoscopic surgeon L P Thanagavelu, an MCI member, who was present at the meeting. “There were many recommendations from the members on how this could be done, but a majority thought it was a good idea. Some of them recommended that a portion of the seats in these institutions should go to students from economically weaker sections or to merit students entering private colleges through the state quota,” he said.
Muslim Educational Society president P A Fazal Gafoor said it would be impossible for the council to have two systems of ownership. “Already we have trusts and societies running ‘not-for-profit’ colleges. They were not paying income tax and accepting donations? What will happen to them? Should we allow them to be converted into profit-making companies? It is sad that such recommendations should come from the Centre,” he said.
A majority of the members said companies would be able to pump in money to establish better infrastructure and human resources.