Delivering the Right to Health to the Rural Sector
Karthy Nair & Pallavi Sharma
Volume 4 Issue 3 (2011)
One of the top medical schools in Karnataka offers a pocket pinching bond of Rs. 6,00,000 to the medical students if they refuse the compulsory rural service after their graduation. What is even more striking is students often opt for forfeiture of the bond than agree to a secondment in a village! The Ministry of Health, by considering the proposal of compulsory rural internships for students of medicine in 2007, has opened a can of worms. There has been a lack of consensus in the medical fraternity regarding the feasibility of the proposal. Students have constantly resisted the idea as it means extending their course to a term of six years. While on one hand, the State considers the compulsory internship as an instrument to full obligations as a welfare state, medical students protest on, what they feel is a form of conscripted labour. Can the students argue that their rights under Art. 19(1)(g) stand violated by this compulsory form of service or can the State demand rural service in return for a subsidized medical education? This paper tries to present the debate between the medicos and the State against the larger out- lay of public health as well as constitutional freedoms. An attempt has been made to evaluate the merits of arguments made on both sides and present an efficacious model reconciling their concerns, in light of the larger issues involved.