THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Perhaps it could be called an odd quirk of fate. Nearly two decades on since then AK Antony government gave the go ahead for self-financing colleges in the state, in the face of fierce criticism from then CPM state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan and Opposition leader VS Achuthanandan, it has emerged that nearly 90 per cent of the nursing sector rendering yeoman service in the anti-COVID fight is from the private/self-financing sector.
Despite facing stiff resistance, the Antony government had gone ahead with the move to start self-financing colleges in the state. It assured people that they stood to gain as two such institutions will equal one state-run college, with the admission norm being 50 per cent merit and 50 per cent management quota.
On Wednesday, when the state witnessed 1,038 COVID positive cases, Antony, who is currently New Delhi-based, is apprehensive of what lies in store. When New Delhi had reported 4,000 positive cases earlier, Kerala totalled only 100 cases. But sadly, the situation has worsened in the southern state. However, he exuded confidence that the state will overcome this phase too as there is no dearth of 'trained and committed' health workers. They are among the best in the country, which explains why the 'Florence Nightingales' are the most sought after across the globe, including Ireland, the US, Italy and the UK.
“During 2001, I wanted to arrest the flow of prospective students, especially girls, to neighbouring Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, the undivided Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. There have been numerous cases of parents and students being duped by private colleges in these states which got me thinking about having private self-financing colleges in Kerala,” Antony, currently a Rajya Sabha, MP and Congress working committee member, told TNIE.
Despite the LDF's vocal opposition to the idea of having self-financing colleges, Antony was not miffed since he felt being in the Opposition it was a natural thing for the CPM-led alliance to do. Hailing from Cherthala, Antony had witnessed several instances of cholera outbreak in his hometown and nearby coastal areas in his younger days. Though Antony never anticipated a pandemic like COVID, he said he always wanted to see girls becoming empowered and having a bright future in the health sector.
According to, “Currently, there is no shortage of health workers (table attached) as well as health institutions in Kerala. They are also paid attractive salaries," the Congress leader said.
Antony has a suggestion for the LDF government, “The health workers as well as police personnel should be provided with PPE(personal protective equipment) kits, N95 masks and gloves and other paraphernalia,” he said.