In a historic decision, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) has said that the government will provide 27% reservation for OBCs and 10% reservation for Economically Weaker Section (EWS) in the All India Quota (AIQ) scheme for undergraduate and postgraduate medical and dental courses such as MBBS, MD, MS, Diploma, BDS, MDS effective academic year 2021-22 onwards.
In a meeting held on 26 July 2021, Prime Minister had directed the union ministries concerned to facilitate an effective solution to the long-pending issue. This decision, MoHFW said would benefit every year nearly 1,500 OBC students in MBBS and 2,500 OBC students in postgraduation, besides around 550 EWS students in MBBS and about 1,000 EWS students in postgraduation.
AIQ scheme was introduced in 1986 under the directions of the Supreme Court to provide for domicile-free merit-based opportunities to students from any state to aspire to study in a good medical college located in another state. It consists of 15% of total available UG seats and 50% of total available PG seats in government medical colleges.
Initially, there was no reservation in AIQ scheme up to 2007. In 2007, the Supreme Court introduced reservations of 15% for SCs and 7.5% for STs in the AIQ scheme. When the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act came into effect in 2007 providing for uniform 27% reservation to OBCs, the same was implemented in all the Central Educational Institutions of Safdarjung Hospital, Lady Harding Medical College, Aligarh Muslim University and Banaras Hindu University, among others. However, this was not extended to the AIQ seats of state medical and dental colleges.
“The present government is committed to providing due reservation both to the backward category as well as the EWS category. The union government has now taken a historic decision to provide for 27% reservation for OBCs and 10% reservation for EWS in the AIQ Scheme. The OBC students from across the country shall now be able to take benefit of this reservation in AIQ Scheme to compete for seats in any state. Being a Central Scheme, the Central List of OBCs shall be used for this reservation. Around 1,500 OBC students in MBBS and 2500 in postgraduation will be benefitted through this reservation,” MoHFW said in a statement.
To provide the benefit to students belonging to the EWS category in admission to higher educational institutions, a Constitutional amendment was made in 2019 which enabled the provision of 10% reservation for the EWS category. Accordingly, seats in medical and dental colleges were increased over two years in 2019-20 and 2020-21 to accommodate the additional 10% EWS reservation so that the total number of seats available for the unreserved category does not reduce. In the AIQ seats, however, this benefit had not been extended until now.
“Therefore, along with the 27% reservation for OBCs, 10% reservation for EWS is also being extended in AIQ seats for all the undergraduate or postgraduate medical or dental courses from the current academic year 2021-22. This will benefit every year around more than 550 EWS students for MBBS and around 1000 EWS students for PG medical courses.
The above decision is the reflection of the government’s commitment to provide due reservation for backward and EWS category students,” the health ministry also said.
This decision, MoHFW added, is also in sync with the significant reforms carried out in the field of medical education since 2014. During the last six years, MBBS seats in the country have increased by 56% from 54,348 seats in 2014 to 84,649 seats in 2020 and the number of PG seats have increased by 80% from 30,191 seats in 2014 to 54,275 seats in 2020. “During the same period, 179 new medical colleges have been established and now the country has 558 (Government: 289, Private: 269) medical colleges.”