Of the 1,200-1,400 doctors, who finish their senior residency or higher studies in the US every year, less than 30% return to practice in India.
Worried about the growing scarcity of doctors in India, the health ministry has not issued any ‘no obligation to return to India’ (NORI) certificate — mandatory for Indian doctors who have completed up to nine years of medical education to settle in the US — this year.
The US insists India give a ‘statement of need’ certificate stating “the student is being allowed to go and study medicine in the US because he is required to return and serve India”.
“For many years the Indian government did not realise that it was issuing two statements completely contradictory in nature. First at the start of the study, which mandated the student to return to India and a second one that said there was no obligation to return,” said an official, unwilling to be named.
“This year not only has the Indian government not issued a single NORI certificate but they have also made it mandatory for all students going to the US to submit affidavits stating that all the new guidelines, which are to be framed in 2013, will apply to them,” he said.
The health ministry is also drawing up guidelines for medical students going to the US for studies. The ministry wants to make it mandatory for students going abroad to come back and practice in India, to plug the growing gap of demand and supply of doctors.
The norms, expected by January 2013, will also apply to students who went to the US this year. The guidelines have already been sent to the law ministry for their comments.
The Medical Council of India too has lauded the move. “It is an extremely good move but we are a little confused about how exactly the ministry tends to go about it,” said Dr Purushottam Lal, member, MCI.