Photo: Flickr / NDNG
You know that doctor with the hard to pronounce name? He may be the last one you see for a while — which means hospitals in undesirable middle America locations could soon find themselves short of staff.India’s health minister said Monday that any doctor going to the US for additional study will have to sign a bond promising to return to India after completing the program, the Indian Express reports.
The paper didn’t mention a monetary amount, but it’s common practice in India to attach a financial penalty to “bonds” of this nature, even though it’s questionable whether they are always legally enforceable. “From this year onwards, any student going for further medical education to the US will have to give us a bond that he will come back after finishing the studies.
In the last three years, 3,000 doctors went abroad for studies and did not return. Now if a student does not come back from the US, he will not be allowed to practise there,” the Express quoted Minister of Health and Family Welfare Ghulam Nabi Azad as saying.
The announcement follows a demand from the US that the Indian government should give a no-objection certificate (NOC) before the enrollment of a student in a US university, which would allow the Indian government to ask the US to deny a student permission to practice in the States if he or she didn’t honour the terms of the bond. It’s hard to argue with the logic.
India is woefully short of medical personnel — especially in its rural facilities. And India’s state-run medical colleges are virtually free, thanks to heavy government funding. But rules and laws to prevent citizens from migrating has the whiff of totalitarianism.
And why stop with doctors? What about the millions of engineers who take their heavily subsidized Indian Institute of Technology degrees off to start-ups or graduate schools in the US? And why limit the rules to leaving the country?
Why not mandate that all doctors must serve a period of time at rural hospitals? Or that all engineers must work a stint at state-owned companies? It’s a slippery slope. And probably an unconstitutional one.
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