They don’t go abroad to study, but to get degrees,” says an investigating officer of the Crime Branch. That the officer is talking about aspiring doctors whose knowledge could be responsible for the health and well-being of some of us in the years to come explains the gravity of the situation.
This March, the Crime Branch got a tip-off that there might have been rampant impersonation in the Foreign Medical Graduate exam. On investigation, it was found to be true, and seven people were arrested. Six of them were doctors and one (Ravinder Kumar) is just 12th pass. Mukesh Kumar, who had passed out from Kazakhstan considered Ravinder more knowledgeable than himself. Ravinder had met Mukesh at a coaching institute in Delhi where they studied together for the medical entrance.
Seven more arrests were made after that. “The investigation is still on and more arrests are expected. How could the pass percentage go beyond 50 when it has been 10 all this while?” asks the officer. Two of the candidates graduated from Nepal colleges but most of them got their medical degrees from Russia and Ukraine. Seven of them are residents of Bihar. Most are sons of doctors, though one is the son of a farmer.
Impersonators, who are mostly doctors and medical students, earn anything between
Rs 50,000 to Rs two lakh for sitting for the exam. “The racket is spread across the country in places like Lucknow, Patna, Nalanda, Ahmedabad, Pune, Hyderabad and Delhi,” says the officer. The gangs work closely with many doctors and they are aware of who has passed out from where and who would want help. One of the conduits caught was a doctor from Safdarjung Hospital, New Delhi. The gangs choose to stay in locations close to medical colleges — like Delhi’s Gautam Nagar, which is close to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and the Safdarjung Hospital. The proxy candidates don’t even meet the real candidates, as members of the gangs deal with them.
To prevent malpractice, many measures have been introduced, like biometric tests, fingerprints, passport verification etc. But will these measures be effective? “Impersonation will be very tough, but I guess they will find some other way,” the officer says.
Concerns regarding quality have forced the Medical Council of India (MCI) to introduce a few rules. The MCI issues eligibility certificates to students wanting to study abroad only if they have only a minimum of 50 per cent in physics, chemistry and biology.
“This is an MCI requirement. Colleges in Russia don’t ask for it,” says Patel Ajay, a medical student in Russia’s Tver State Medical Academy. Internships in Indian hospitals for a year have also been made compulsory for all students trained abroad.