Court warns doctors to end strike
Protesters say the move will lower education standards
India’s Supreme Court has warned striking doctors and medical students across the country to return to work immediately or face prosecution.
The court said the strike, now in its third week, was inconveniencing a large number of patients.
The doctors and medical students are protesting against a controversial affirmative action plan.
The government plans to reserve half of state-funded professional college places for lower caste students.
Those opposing the affirmative action plan say it will lead to lower standards.
On Monday the Supreme Court questioned the proposal and asked the government to provide details within eight weeks of the rationale for the plan and how it would be implemented.
Separately, Indian Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss said the government would take “necessary measures” to restore health services if the doctors did not return to work.
“If the doctors do not report on duty on Wednesday, the government will initiate steps to recruit new doctors,” he warned.
Under the new plan, the government intends to reserve nearly half of state-funded professional college places for lower caste students from 2007.
At present, 22.5% of college places are reserved for Dalits, or untouchables, who are at the bottom of India’s caste hierarchy, and tribal students.
The new plan would set aside an additional 27% of places in educational institutions for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) – lower caste Hindus and other traditionally disadvantaged groups.
Many Indians fear this would mean fewer college places and lower standards.
But the move has the backing of millions of lower caste Indians and other disadvantaged groups.