Much has been spoken about the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) in the last two to three months. The medical and dental aspirants, their parents and the law makers have been an integral part of the labyrinth called NEET - gaining entrance is easy but finding a way out seems to be an uphill task for the candidates.
Why was NEET sown?
The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test is a recent development. Earlier, the common entrance tests were introduced at the private and deemed institutions along with government institutions in order to allocate medical and dental seats to eligible candidates. Lakhs of candidates would be sifted and thousands of them would emerge eligible for their aspired courses. Introducing an entrance test was no doubt a great idea and was widely accepted till the aforementioned institutions started collecting a huge amount of money in the form of 'capitation fees' or 'donations' - these are the payments apart from the admission, tuition and exam fees paid by the candidates.
Probably, since medical and dental courses bring prosperous career prospects, candidates and their families never minded spending a huge sum in the form of donation. However, the meritorious candidates were deprived of what they deserve as they were either dependent on their authentic knowledge required for the course they were going to study or they were not in a position to shell out the amount demanded by the institutions. It called for a close look at the way the private and deemed medical and dental institutions operated. Therefore, CBSE and Medical Council of India (MCI) came up with a solution to curb the commercialization of education and introduced NEET in May 2013.
NEET slumbered three years away
The introduction of NEET did not go all that well with most of the states and private institutions. Consequently, petitions were filed in the Apex Court against the common entrance exam. The Supreme Court ruled in favour of the petitioners and sent it into slumber in June 2013.
The second coming of NEET
Since 2013, things continued as usual, capitation fees were paid, existing private dental and medical as well as deemed institutions flourished, more such colleges were added and candidates had to spend a lot of money on travelling to write 90 different entrance exams across the country. In the meanwhile, MCI continued its efforts to bring NEET back.
Finally, common entrance test made its 'second coming' in April 2016 as the Supreme Court allowed its reintroduction throughout India as a single test to distribute seats to only those candidates who exhibit their merit in the exam.
The Whirlpool of Chaos
NEET got a kick start on May 1, 2016 but only a few private, deemed and government institutions agreed to conduct their entrance exams as per its norms. States like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh opposed the national level common entrance test. NEET 1 was successfully carried out on the above mentioned day. Partial consent among the states to continue with National Eligibility cum Entrance Test created chaos among the medical and dental aspirants as those states not in favour of the common entrance test started demanding the cancellation of it.
Later, the stance was a bit softened and the concerned institutions demanded deference of NEET to next academic year. On one hand, NEET 2 was scheduled on 24 July 2016 and on the other hand candidates did not have a clue as to what would happen to their scores in NEET 1, and even if NEET 2 took off, they only had less than two months to prepare.
Nevertheless, the national level common entrance test has been deferred to the next academic year with issuance of an ordinance by the Centre and the same being signed by the President of India. The whirlpool of chaos is yet to be calmed down because the ordinance has postponed the common entrance test for now, but it says that medical and dental seats will be allotted through NEET 2 only at the government institutions whereas the private colleges are left out. A recent protest at Mumbai questioning this confusing clause in the NEET ordinance makes it clear that a lot of confusions still persist.
It is high time the concerned authorities empathized with the candidates and understand the turmoil they are experiencing within themselves. Instead of indulging themselves in studies and preparation for the exams, their minds are mostly occupied with worries regarding their future. A citizen recently filed a petition asking the Apex Court to stay the NEET ordinance. However, the court refused to do so. It is a good sign since it shows concern towards the future of the young and budding aspirants. NEET has stirred the whole nation due to the confusions regarding its implementation and validity. As of now, the situation is under control and everything seems to be going smooth. It should continue so if our country wants to witness itself producing eligible and knowledgeable medical and dental professionals.