New Delhi: The National Medical Commission has formed a group of experts to frame guidelines for a proposed exam to allow medical graduates from persecuted minorities who migrated from Pakistan and got Indian citizenship to acquire permanent registration for practising medicine in India.
The move comes as a ray of hope for many doctors who after migrating from Pakistan are not able to practice medicine in India legally.
For decades, many people belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Jain and Christian minority groups from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan have migrated to India and sought citizenship.
The Ministry of Home Affairs had informed Parliament during its winter session in 2021 that 8,244 citizenship applications were received from non-muslims from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan of which 3,117 were granted citizenship.
Significantly, Parliament has passed the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in 2019 which facilitates granting of Indian citizenship to persecuted non-muslim minorities of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. However, the law has not been implemented as rules under CAA are yet to be framed.
Dr L N Jangid, 49, who has been living in Jodhpur after migrating to India from Pakistan’s Umerkot in 2004 has been working as an assistant to a doctor in a private clinic. He got Indian citizenship in 2019.
Despite having an MBBS degree from Jinnah Sindh Medical University in Karachi, his job now entails noting down patient history, checking their blood pressure, and making them understand the doses of medicines prescribed by the doctor.
“I feel very disappointed while working as a medical assistant. I keep going back to my days in Pakistan when I was working as a doctor and would see patients and prescribe medicine.
I feel that I have failed to live my dream of serving patients,” Jangid told PTI.
It is not just Jangid, many like him are forced to do odd jobs in India after migrating from Pakistan with a medical degree.
The National Medical Commission (NMC) notification on the formation of the Group of Experts, issued on June 20, read, “It is hereby stated that Ministry of Health through its holistic endeavour decided that appropriate guidelines/ regulations may be framed to give effect to the decision of conducting proposed examination for persecuted minorities migrating from Pakistan under the direct supervision of National Medical Commission to test their knowledge of modern medicine and granting permanent registration to practice medicine in India.”
Dr Nakhat Singh Sodha (54), who migrated to India from Pakistan’s Sindh in 2005 and is now working as a maintenance supervisor at a private hospital in Jodhpur said he would need nine to 10 months to prepare for Foreign Medical Graduate Exam (FMGE) exam.
He graduated from the Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences (LUMHS) in Karachi in 1994.
“I graduated over two decades ago. I don’t understand how I would be able to appear for a qualifying exam once more. We will need at least nine to 10 months of preparation if we are to crack the FMGE exam. While doing so, we won’t be able to continue with our work and who would feed our family?”
“It would be great if the government brings a policy to give us permanent registration to work as doctors,” he said.
Indians with medical degrees from foreign universities can practise in India only after they clear the FMGE. However, postgraduate degrees from five English-speaking countries — the US, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand — are recognised in India and they do not need to appear for the exam.
In a public notice on April 28, the NMC had urged Indian students not to enrol themselves in any college or educational institution in Pakistan.
“All concerned are advised not to travel to Pakistan for pursuing Medical Education.
“Any Indian national/Overseas Citizen of India who intends to take admission in MBBS/BDS or equivalent medical course in any medical college of Pakistan shall not be eligible for appearing in FMGE or seeking employment in India on the basis of educational qualifications (in any subject) acquired in Pakistan except those who had joined Pakistan degree colleges/institutions before December 2018 or later after obtaining security clearance from MHA till date,” the public notice issued on April 28 read.
However, migrants and their children who have acquired a medical degree or higher education in Pakistan and have been awarded citizenship by India would continue to be eligible for appearing in FMGE/NEXT or seeking employment in India after obtaining security clearance from MHA, it had added.
The proposed Terms of Reference of the five-member Group of Experts constituted by NMC is to provide a roadmap for granting permanent registration to persecuted minority migrants, who are now Indian citizens, to practice medicine in India.
The group of experts is also mandated to obtain the demographic and academic information with work experience, if any, of the candidate, to verify the documents submitted and to decide the methodology and mode of special examination to be conducted by the NMC.
“Once the guidelines are framed, the candidates will be asked to register on a portal for appearing in the proposed exam,” an official source said.
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