Punjab medical education minister Bhagat Chunni Lal on Friday appeared to have taken a u-turn and underlined that vacant NRI quota seats in MBBS and BDS would be filled in a "transparent manner". His reiteration comes a day after HT reported how he had tried his best to scuttle a new notification which eventually overturned an earlier notification that had given private medical colleges the right to fill vacant NRI seats on their own.
After HT reported the possible ramifications of the Monday notification that said colleges could hold their own counselling for vacant seats in the 15% NRI quota, the chief minister had ordered the new notification that was issued on Thursday. But despite his professed support for transparency now, Bhagat had - as reported by HT on September 14 -- opposed three specific pro-transparency provisions. CM Parkash Singh Badal had rejected his opposition and ensured the new notification.
The pro-transparency points were: availability of application forms at the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences (BFUHS), besides the college concerned; permission to deposit format the college institutions or the university; and that the forms thus received at the colleges and the Faridkot-headquartered university be considered together for admission.
Experts had anyway said that these were the main points required to ensure transparency.
"Now the parents as well as the university are hopeful that meritorious students will have a fair chance to compete," said Dr SS Gill, vice-chancellor of the university. "If the private colleges refuse to give or accept forms now, the aspirants can use the university route."
Meanwhile, in a rare gesture towards transparency, Banur-based Gian Sagar Medical College has written to the university to conduct counselling for the unfilled NRI seats at the college.
Provisions that remained, thankfully
Here are the three provisions in the Thursday notification that seek to ensure transparency. We analyse the possible implications had these provisions not been pushed through by the CM despite medical education minister Bhagat Chunni Lal's resistance:
If absent: Private colleges could have given forms to only those candidates with whom they would have fixed deals.
If absent: If somebody even managed to get the form despite the college's initial refusal, the colleges could have simply refused to accept the filled form.