Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi on Monday, 28 February, claimed that about "90 percent of Indians who study medicine abroad fail to clear qualifying exams in India," reported The Times of India.
However, Joshi reportedly added: "This is not the right time to debate why students are moving out to study medicine."
Joshi's statement comes as around 16,000 Indian nationals, including students, are trapped in Ukraine since Russian President Vladimir Putin declared war on the country. Many of them are students who have gone to Ukraine to study medicine.
Visuals of Indians stranded in Ukraine and pleading to the Indian government for help have been making rounds on social media.
Many Indians Study Medicine in Ukraine
Many Indian students pursue medicine in Ukraine because not only is the country's course well-recognised, but it is also relatively cheaper in comparison to private Indian colleges and similar courses in other countries.
When students have not qualified for Indian government colleges because of the limited number of seats, they consider either dropping a year, going to a private college, or studying abroad.
Rahul from Edu Pedia Overseas, an education consulting service, told The Quint in a conversation that the six-year course in Ukraine would cost anywhere between Rs 24 lakh and Rs 26 lakh. In an Indian private university, that would cost students around Rs 75 lakh.
Most Indian students in Ukraine study medicine or allied healthcare courses such as dentistry. MBBS is the most popular course.
Twitter Condemns Joshi's Statement
On Tuesday, an Indian student lost his life in shelling in Ukraine's Kharkiv, confirmed the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Twitter. The 21-year-old was a student of forensic science at Kharkiv National Medical University.
Many took to Twitter to condemn Joshi's statement in light of this, questioning his timing and pointed out that evacuation operations were a priority.
'Couldn't Afford to Study Medicine in India': Killed Indian Student's Father
Shekharappa Gyanagoudar, the father of Naveen Shekharappa Gyanagoudar – who was killed in Kharkiv on Tuesday – also rejected Joshi's statement, saying that his son was an intelligent student who went to Ukraine to study medicine because he could not afford do so in India.
"The donation is very high for those wanting to study medicine here. Intelligent students will go abroad to study, and they spend a lesser amount when compared to Karnataka. Here, a student will have to pay in crores to get a medical seat under quota," Gyanagoudar said.
He added that his son had scored 97 percent in school exams.
Siddappa, a relative of the family, said that due to financial constraints, the family could not "buy a management quote seat," adding that Ukraine was the best option for Naveen to pursue his dreams.
He added that the entire family contributed money so that Naveen could study medicine in Ukraine, reported NDTV.
(With inputs from The Times of India and NDTV.)