Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Of picketings and protests...

There was a big udgoshanaya outside the UGC yesterday, protesting the "politicizing" of appointments of the new graduate doctors. When I got to campus, the union was all active with members running around stencilling posters etc.

I like our students' union. They regularly piss off the maha shishya bala mandalaya of the University. Protests are limited to the lunch hour (nobody wants to miss classes). Our posters are notoriously tame... instead of the usual denu, karanu etc, it is denna, karanna - occaionally with a "please" or a "if it's not too much of a bother" thrown in. Yet we get great publicity 'cos of carefully cultivated media contacts. :)

I asked around and found out that this was because of the government decision to fill in the vacancies in the East with graduates from Jaffna University. I had a bit of time to think about it as I sat trembling in the Surgery Department, awaiting to be called for the "Long and Short Cases" of my final exam. Why was I here, decked up in a saree dry mouthed and petrified? Why were we doing these frickin exams in the first place? Examiners were coming from universities all over the Island, in order that the marks are standardised, because it's on these results that the common order of merit (the notorious "merit list") is set.

How fair is it to have to sit for all the standard exams, to get good marks and then be shoved off to the East for internship just because you studied at a particular university? Note, I have nothing against working there... if I am appointed to Trinco or Batti, I'd grit my teeth and go there determined to do a good job for the duration of my appointment. I'd just like to get that appointment on merit and not on a political whim.

I have the greatest respect for graduates of the Jaffna University and have been privileged to work with a few of them as my seniors (house officers, registrars etc.)They don't have half the facilities (to learn) as we have here in Colombo, some of them have been arrested by the SLA on various charges (this was about a decade ago), they have experienced dodging motars and scrambling into bunkers on the way to campus. They are friendly, hardworking and fun to work with. They are no less than any of the rest of us, and deserve to be treated equaly.

So these were the thoughts that ran through my mind as I listened to the faint sounds of the slogans in the distance. Then I was called in, screwed up the short cases, did reasonably well in the long case and will hopefully pass. Well, 13 down and 5 more to go... phew!

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