Chandigarh: Disparity is stipend continues to upset foreign resident doctors practising at Indian institutes of national importance despite the Union government direction issued last year to pay them salaries just like any other medical professional.
Aggrieved by the failure of the concerned institutional authorities, the doctors recently took to streets in protest.
In September 2018, the government had directed Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER, PGI Chandigarh) and other medical institutions of national importance to pay the foreign doctors their due stipend.
Medical Dialogues had reported that with the centre’s order, the junior resident doctors were about to be paid Rs 80,000 salary per month and the senior residents Rs 1 lakh per month. The other two prominent medical institutes, All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER) were going to tag along.
However, the institutes have reportedly failed to meet the legitimate demand of the doctors. Since 8 years, the foreign resident doctors have been fighting against the pay inequality.
Even though these foreign resident doctors worked like any other resident doctor, over 12 hours a day, in these top medical institutes, they were paid nothing. Dissatisfied medicos alleged that they were doing “free labour” while their Indian counterparts would earn anywhere between Rs 70,000 and Rs 1 lakh per month.
The battle for this reasonable demand of salary started from the year 2013 when doctors from Nepal working in AIIMS moved the court for not treating them at par with the Indian resident doctors in terms of salary.
“The single bench judgement was decided in our favour. But the AIIMS moved an appeal before a double bench. The case is still pending,” Dr Sagar Poudel, a Nepalese junior resident at AIIMS, who was the one to raise the issue for the first time with his country’s Prime Minister (PM).
The PGI Chandigarh has 61 of these doctors from Nepal and Bhutan. Saying that they are not being paid the salary as their Indian counterparts do, Dr Poudel informed TOI: “I have requested Nepal’s foreign minister to raise the issue at the joint commission meeting with the Indian foreign ministry coming up this month.”
“We were working full shifts even during the strike. This happens every time doctors go on a strike. The resident doctors from foreign countries get a separate schedule and a notice to run the services at the hospital,” said Dr Poudel.
“These residents were a great help during the strike. They work as much as any of the resident doctors in the hospital, yet they do not get paid. The only concession may be that they do not have to pay the HRA (House Rent Allowance) for the hostel. They even have to pay Rs 19,000 upfront to avail the employee’s health insurance scheme unlike the other residents who have deductions made from their stipends,” an Assistant Professor in the department of geriatric medicine at AIIMS informed APN Live.