About 20,000 private doctors from across Karnataka were on strike since Saturday morning supporting the 12-hour nationwide protest by Indian Medical Association (IMA) against the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill, 2017. "At least 20,000 private doctors from across 25,000 hospitals and clinics in the state have abstained from their duties in protest against the NMC Bill," the Secretary of Karnataka chapter of IMA B. Veeranna told IANS here. The emergency services of the hospitals and clinics, however, remained open, while the out-patient departments have been shut starting 6 a.m. to end at 6 p.m. The NMC Bill, introduced in Lok Sabha on December 29, 2017 by the Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda, aims to repeal the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956, and dissolve the Medical Council of India (MCI). The Bill, in the form it was proposed, aims to regulate the medical education in India. It has provision for granting permission to doctors under Indian systems of medicine, like Ayurveda, to be allowed to practice allopathy after clearing a bridge course. After widespread protests across the country that the Bill allows the door wide open for corruption, it was referred to a Parliamentary standing committee for revision. The revised Bill contains only marginal modifications and still remains "anti-people", and "anti-poor", Veeranna added. As per the Bill, the central government will make the decision of appointing the chairperson of the NMC, and also determine the fees for upto 40 per cent of seats in private medical colleges. "The Bill has a draconian character which will cause irreparable damage to the interests of all stakeholders and would reduce regulatory mechanism to a puppetry with its strings attached to the government," said the IMA in Delhi while calling for the strike. The doctors' body will intensify the protests if the Bill is passed in the Parliament in its present form, Veeranna said. The doctors have been demanding the Bill to be either scrapped, or modified so as to ensure it is comprehensive in monitoring the quality of healthcare in the country, with minimum government interference.