SC, Centre should stay firm on NEET

With the Presidential assent for an ordinance exempting seats filled through the state-conducted medical entrance tests from the National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET) for a year, the confusion and anxieties generated by the Supreme Court decision on the matter among some sections of students and others may end for the time being. The ordinance partially neutralises the Supreme Court order which mandated the holding of a common national test for medical entrance. Admissions to all private medical colleges and deemed universities will come under the ambit of NEET. But state governments have been given the option for exemption for this academic year. The exemption is only for pre-medial and pre-dental courses and postgraduate entrance examinations will have to be held under NEET. Some states had felt that a full implementation of the Supreme Court order this year would inconvenience or affect the interests of students who have prepared for the exams this year under different formats and curricula and in different languages.

The pressure from these governments may have forced the Centre to go in for an exemption for one year. Since the ordinance does not cover admissions to private medical colleges, one important beneficial fall-out of the apex court order would not be negated. The admission process in private colleges based on separate entrance tests had given room for many irregularities and the widespread practice of donations and capitation fees. Students also are put to great inconvenience and severe mental stress as they have to attend multiple admission tests in different parts of the country. The financial impact and difficulties involved in travel are also considerable. A single test would solve these problems. The main advantage would be that it would ensure that meritorious students would not be denied the chance of admission. This will help to improve the standards of medical education and those of the doctors who qualify from the country’s medical colleges.

The Central government has said that it supported the idea of a single national test. But the pressure is likely to continue on the government and the issue is bound to be raised in the Supreme Court again. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa has already told the Centre to ensure that NEET is not forced on the state. Pressure will also be exerted by other interests groups and lobbies. There will be attempts to negate the Supreme Court order or to dilute its impact. It is unlikely that the Supreme Court will be responsive to any more pleas on the matter as it has made its position clear. The government also will have to stand its ground.


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