TODAY -

Where are we ?

Oken Jeet Sandham *

JNIMS (Jawarhal Lal Nehru Institute of Medical Science) at Porompat
JNIMS (Jawarhal Lal Nehru Institute of Medical Science) at Porompat :: Pix - Bunti Phurailatpam



Every national magazine worth reading publishes cover stories on the best colleges, universities, medical and engineering colleges, etc. at least 4 to 5 times in a year. There are hundreds of medical and engineering colleges and universities spread all over this country.

There are medical and engineering colleges in the northeastern region too and they have been performing well and even the Indian Institute of Technology based in Guwahati is among India's top 10 engineering colleges. Medical colleges in Assam and Manipur have been doing well and they have been producing dozens of medical graduates every year and they have been successfully practicing in many hospitals in the region.

The medical colleges in the region are not enough to accommodate students. The total medical colleges of the entire northeastern region are not even half of the number of medical colleges of Tamil Nadu State. When Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad recently tabled a statement in the Lok Sabha, he said four southern States account more than 41% of all the medical colleges in the country. He informed the Parliament that Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu together have 159 of the country's 387 medical colleges (both government and private).

When it comes to Government-run medical colleges, Tamil Nadu tops the list with 21 colleges, which produce 2,715 medical graduates every year. Karnataka has the highest number of private colleges at 34, followed by Andhra Pradesh (28), Maharashtra (25) and Tamil Nadu (24).

Even the smaller States like Manipur, Sikkim, Goa, Meghalaya, etc. got their share of medical colleges and sadly, Nagaland State is yet to get a medical college till today. The State is fully geared to celebrate its "Golden Jubilee" this year. Nagaland was formally declared as the 16th State of Indian Union on December 1, 1963.

Many in the past had unsuccessfully fought with the Center to have a medical college. But of late, the tempo of the fight increased. The present Governor Dr Ashwani Kumar as soon as he became the State's Governor in March this year had shown his unhappiness on seeing the State blank from the medical map of India. He immediately called on Union Medical Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and had a detailed discussion for the establishment of a medical college in Nagaland. Besides this, even apex Naga students' body, the NSF was also very vocal for the medical college issue.

In the meantime, there was a move for converting the Kohima District Hospital to a Medical College and for which even Medical Minister Imkong L Imchen had discussion with the Kohima Village people for their support and cooperation.

Surprisingly, all these hopes and dreams of getting at least a medical college this time were dashed all of a sudden when the Union Medical Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad informed the Parliament few days back that Nagaland's proposal for a medical college was rejected. He said he received a total of 275 applications for establishment of new medical colleges from various State Governments. But the Center could grant only 66, he informed the Parliament.

Why is this happening? Where does the fault lie? Whether our approach to the Center is lacking something or the political will is lacking. I would not be wrong to say that we lacked the political will as far as medical college issue of the State is concerned.

States like Manipur, Tripura and Meghalaya attained Statehoods much after Nagaland. These States have at least one or two medical colleges. And the fact is the State (Nagaland) had got an opportunity to establish its first medical college in the 70s but because of the lack of political will, it missed it.

Again the saddest part is the present Christian Institute of Health Sciences Research (CIHSR) was initially constructed for State's only Referral Hospital. The construction started in mid 80s in an area of 133 acre with the assistance from the Ministry for Devolvement of North East Region (DoNER). But it had never become as expected and finally when the DAN Government came to power, it handed over to CMC, Vellore and EHA through a tripartite agreement--- the Nagaland Government, the CMC, Vellore and the EHA. This development was the first manifestation of the State Government that they still lacked many things as far as medical related activities are concerned. In reality, this Referral Hospital, if not handed over, could be a strong bargaining factor for establishment of a new medical college too.

And today, the scenario is not much different. Our state appears to be still lacking a political will. It appears that the Center is not fully convinced. Now the issue is as to how we go about and get what we deserve from the Government of India. How long are we going to send our children for pursuing higher studies, medical and engineering studies or any other technical studies outside the State even after 50 years of Statehood? How much resource do we have to continue sending our children for pursuing their higher studies? Do we ever think that thousands of students qualified for pursuing any given streams could not afford going outside the State lost their careers along the way?

Time has come for the State Government and the policy makers to come up with ideas as to how we can also have various required educational institutions in the State. If once such plans are achieved, we can not only save hundreds of crores of rupees spending on our children's educations outside the State but also their security will be guaranteed.

Are we not learning any lesson from the recent incident that many engineering students from our State, after being denied their admissions in Maharashtra, were stranded? How much their parents much have labored for them to be there far away from Nagaland for getting admission in various engineering colleges in Maharashtra. If we have these educational facilities in our State, such problem would not have been there.

Let us fight together to get at least a medical college and stop blaming on the ongoing unresolved Naga political issue for the failure of development in the State. What a fool we are for making the political issue messed up sometimes with every major developmental failure in the State? What has got to do with the State's developmental activities with that of Naga political issue? Let us not forget that there is State Government for the development of the State of Nagaland.


* Oken Jeet Sandham (from NEPS) is a frequent contributor to e-pao.net
The writer can be contacted at nepsonline(at)yahoo(dot)com
This article was posted on August 26, 2013.


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