A medical school admissions scandal in Madhya Pradesh has led to India’s Supreme Court revoking 634 medical licences.
The latest development in the ‘Vyapam scam’ – named for the Hindi acronym of the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB) – has seen the doctors in question accused by the Supreme Court of participating in “acts of deceit” constituting “mass fraud.” Allegations are that, between 2008 and 2013, hundreds of students were fraudulently admitted to medical colleges in the state.
The BBC reports that a number of illicit practices were involved in the scandal, including
leaking question papers, rigging answer sheets and hiring bright students as impersonators to sit for candidates, as well as selling medical school seats to the highest bidder…[for] anything between 1m rupees…and 7m rupees.”
“Politicians, bureaucrats, and…middle men”
Around 2,000 arrests have been made in connection with the controversy since 2012. Over 2,500 people have been accused of some level of involvement.
Of those implicated, two thirds have been students or their parents. This has raised some questions about the focus of the investigation being potentially misplaced, as many of those involved are believed to have been “politicians, bureaucrats and other middle men”, who accepted bribes from students in exchange for allowing them to have impersonators take the exams on their behalf.
In an interview with The Wire, Madhya Pradesh’s former chief minister, Digvijaya Singh expressed that he was “grateful” to the Supreme Court for their decision to revoke the licences.
However, he lamented that many of those who took bribes from students had not faced legal repercussions, including the state’s current chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. He asked “can all this happen under the nose of the chief minister without his knowledge?”
In addition to the controversy over the admissions themselves, Firstpost reports that around 32-40 people connected to the scandal – from the accused to journalists – have died since it emerged, “largely under mysterious circumstances.” Despite this, the state government has yet to order a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the deaths – adding fuel to the fire of accusations of foul play and conspiracy.
What is clear, on the other hand, is that those involved in the scandal are complicit in potentially endangering the lives of numerous patients. This could be through those fraudulently admitted a lack of familiarity with basic medical procedures, misdiagnosing conditions, and improperly prescribing drugs. The implications of the scandal are perhaps best summed up by cardiovascular surgeon Dr. Naresh Trehan, who says that the scam has “ruined the quality of doctors in the country” and amounts to “fraudulently” lending students “license to play with people’s lives.” It is difficult to disagree with Dr. Trehan on this – and because of this, all those involved in the scandal, at any level, ought to be brought to account.