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Twenty-seven percent of the all-India quota admissions for medical and dental courses will be reserved for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) starting this academic year, the Union health ministry said. An additional 10% will be reserved for the Economically Weaker Section (EWS).

The reservations will be implemented in all undergraduate and postgraduate medical and dental courses.

The decision will benefit nearly 1,500 OBC students seeking to join MBBS courses and 2,500 backward category students in postgraduate courses. It will also benefit around 550 EWS students in MBBS and around 1,000 EWS students in postgraduate courses, the health ministry said.

The decision comes after Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 26 July directed the Union ministries concerned to decide on this issue.

The all-India quota (AIQ) scheme was introduced in 1986 under the Supreme Court’s directions to allow merit-based opportunities to students from any state to study in a medical college in another state.

The AIQ scheme consists of 15% of total available undergraduate seats and 50% of total available postgraduate seats in government medical colleges.

There was no reservation in the AIQ scheme till 2007. Subsequently, the Supreme Court introduced reservations of 15% for Scheduled Castes and 7.5% for Scheduled Tribes in the AIQ scheme.

When the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act took effect in 2007, providing for uniform 27% reservation to OBCs, the same was implemented in all central educational institutions, including Safdarjung Hospital, Lady Hardinge Medical College, Aligarh Muslim University and Banaras Hindu University. 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 health ministry said in a statement.

“The OBC students from across the country shall now be able to take benefit of this reservation in the AIQ scheme to compete for seats in any state. Being a central scheme, the central list of OBCs shall be used for this reservation," the ministry said.

To reserve seats for students belonging to the EWS category, a constitutional amendment was made in 2019, enabling the provision of 10% reservation. Accordingly, seats in medical and dental colleges were increased over two years in 2019-20 and 2020-21 to accommodate more students so that the total number of seats available for the unreserved category do not reduce.

In the AIQ seats, this benefit had not been extended so far.

Therefore, along with the 27% reservation for OBCs, 10% reservation for EWS is also being extended in AIQ seats for all the undergraduate and postgraduate medical and dental courses from the current academic year 2021-22.

This decision, the health ministry said, is in sync with the reforms carried out in the field of medical education since 2014.

In the six years to 2020, MBBS seats in the country have increased by 56% to 84,649 and the number of postgraduate seats have increased by 80% to 54,275 seats.

During the same period, 179 new medical colleges have been established for a total of 558 medical colleges (269 of them are run by private operators).

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