Opinion DC Comment 10 Jan 2022 DC Edit | A NEET sol ...

DC Edit | A NEET solution worked out by the top court

DECCAN CHRONICLE.
Published Jan 11, 2022, 1:00 am IST
Updated Jan 11, 2022, 1:00 am IST
Quota for OBCs in MBBS and MD courses under the all-India quota (15%) seats and the 10% reservation in the EWS
The disadvantaged are denied a fair shot in a system crowded with specalised coaching classes that begin early in a student’s life and are exorbitantly priced by the more successful tuition centres. (Representational Image/ DC File)
 The disadvantaged are denied a fair shot in a system crowded with specalised coaching classes that begin early in a student’s life and are exorbitantly priced by the more successful tuition centres. (Representational Image/ DC File)

The accommodative stand of the Supreme Court in the matter pertaining to counselling for admissions after the medical entrance test NEET for Post-Graduates has to be appreciated. Not only did the court accede to urgent hearing but also agreed to put off the question of the Rs 8 lakh criterion, which is the same income ceiling for OBCs set by the Union government to qualify for admission under the Economically Weaker Sections category. More significantly, the 27% quota for OBCs in MBBS and MD courses under the all-India quota (15%) seats and the 10% reservation in the EWS has gained the court’s stamp of approval for now though the issue of the legality of any general EWS quota is being heard by a five-member bench.

The main thrust in an issue clouded by challenges to reservations in the admissions procedure was to get the academic year going by initiating the counselling, from Jan. 12, that had been stopped for 2021-2022 AIQ admissions. The nod for counselling to start also means that the main reason for resident doctors going on strike in New Delhi and disrupting healthcare for patients, including those suffering from Covid-19 in a situation of a national health emergency, has evaporated. The process of medical students in AIQ seats entering their colleges gets going at last after considerable delay.

 

The medical education scene has seen some improvements even in the time of Covid-19 with the number of seats going up in the last couple of years by at least 8,000 to about 1.18 lakh MBBS seats. The system of 85% of the seats going to State counselling for their domiciled students and 15% to AIQ remains and what has changed recently is adjustments in reservation with the OBC and EWS quotas. What the national entrance exam achieved was to break the old capitation fee system by which private medical colleges could fleece students with huge one-time payments demanded for seats, besides bloated fees for all student amenities and services.

 

The State of Tamil Nadu has, however, had a bone to pick with the NEET system of admissions by which 15% of seats are taken away to a central pool while excluding the poor and rural students getting through to study medicine. Of course, the politics of NEET, emotionally scarred by student suicides, has ensured that the issue stays overblown to even represent a threat to State autonomy as the Tamil Nadu chief minister puts it. The disadvantaged are denied a fair shot in a system crowded with specalised coaching classes that begin early in a student’s life and are exorbitantly priced by the more successful tuition centres.

 

An urban tilt to medical education has come about because of the difficulties of logistics in taking specialised coaching to the hinterland. Where the talented rural students whose potential gets stunted by their location can be helped is by government-supported coaching as in Tamil Nadu. Beyond that lies the issue of reserving a certain portion of seats within the State quota for rural students who fare well enough in the entrance test.

There are not too many other takers besides Odisha for Tamil Nadu’s extreme position of seeking to do away with NEET altogether where the issue is clouded by the acts of Governors in the State tending to sit on Assembly resolutions when they seem to clash with the Centre’s stand. It is moot whether a clear case exists for dismantling the national system of merit but efforts can be made to find a way to accommodate rural students with potential.

 

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