THE BLOG

Dear Justice Dave, Here's How You Can Make The NEET Order Stand Up To Scrutiny

02/05/2016 11:44 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST
NEW! HIGHLIGHT AND SHARE
Highlight text to share via Facebook and Twitter
Hindustan Times via Getty Images
NOIDA, INDIA - MAY 1: Medical aspirants coming out of the examination hall after appearing the All India Pre-Medical/Pre-Dental Entrance Test (AIPMT), on May 1, 2016 in Noida, India. The All Indian Pre-Medical Test (AIPMT) 2016, being treated as the first phase of the National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET), was held on Sunday. The competitive examination held for entrance to MBBS and BDS courses across the country was held amidst tight security this year. Students had a proper dress code to adhere to as they were not allowed to enter the examination hall in shoes or carry any kind of stationary with them. Mobile phones were also not allowed. (Photo by Sunil Ghosh/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Dear Justice Dave,

I edit Careers360, a magazine and portal that seeks to help students make better education and career choices by providing authentic information. We serve about 8-10 million children each month.

For the last few days since your historic order, the phone lines in our counselling centre have not stopped ringing. Hundreds of parents, children and their well-wishers are calling, worried. Will the National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET) 2, a common entrance test for undergraduate medical school, happen? Why can't NEET 1 aspirants write NEET 2? What will happen to the Kerala Engineering Agriculture Medical Entrance Examination (KEAM) which has already taken place? Questions fly thick and fast. We seek to reassure them despite the picture actually being murky. But one thing stands out in all the callers. They are fundamentally happy if there is a single test. And they applaud you for taking a stand.

[L]et me suggest some ways that take into account both the prime principle of your judgment and the overarching need to ensure that admissions are fair, transparent and non-exploitative.

At the risk of sounding presumptuous, let me remind you of the thought you had in that dissenting judgment you gave in 2013. Here, I quote from page 186:

"From and among those students, who have secured prescribed qualifying marks, the concerned institutions, who want to give priority to the students belonging to a particular class or caste or creed or religion or region, etc. would be in a position to give preference to such students in the matter of their admission to the concerned medical college. Thus, the purpose with which the Articles 25, 26, 29, and 30 are incorporated in our Constitution would be fully respected and implemented."

A fascinating thought. One that I believe led to the order of 28 April. But sir, I must acknowledge that your judgment of 2013 does not consider in depth some key issues, such as those of state governments conducting their own tests, the existence of multiple boards and their differential standards, and the policies of states like Tamil Nadu who have banned entrance exams and admit students based on their performance in state board exams. Some of these arguments are quite reasonable and I am hazarding a guess that your decision to hear issues of state-level exams etc on 3 May stems from an acknowledgement of this.

But, Hon' Justice Dave please do not throw the baby with the bathwater. Based on my interactions with children, let me suggest some ways that take into account both the prime principle of your judgment and the overarching need to ensure that admissions are fair, transparent and non-exploitative.

Let the CBSE prepare a merit list based on the best performance in either one--AIPMT or NEET. That way, students have nothing to complain about.

The crux of the objections to NEET is threefold:

a) Many students might have not taken the All India Pre-Medical Entrance Test (AIPMT) seriously and put all their eggs into one basket--their state entrance/state board. And some might have opted for AIPMT on a lark. This is a fact. And they might be inconvenienced if AIMPT becomes NEET and decides their fate. They are not represented before your honourable court at all, sir, but this issue is real

b) States like Tamil Nadu do not conduct entrance exams. Board marks decide the fate of students. In such states, I know lakhs of students who study up to the 10th standard in CBSE boards and then opt for the easier state board in the 12th standard to score better and get a course of their choice. And there is also an issue of rural students who study for the boards as if their life depends on it. They also exist. I am sure the Tamil Nadu counsel would ably argue that before you on Monday.

c) In your judgment, you have demolished the arguments of institutions like CMC, Vellore /AIIMS that seek a separate entrance exam citing their uniqueness. So I am not interested in labouring that point again. But they'll be driving home those points again.

Here is a possible way out, Justice Dave.

a) Let the AIPMT on 1 May continue to be NEET 1. Allow students who took AIPMT to appear for NEET 2 if they so wish.

b) Let the NEET 2 announced for July/August be open to everybody, including those who took NEET 1. All those students who seek admissions could prepare and give the test. They have time and enough notice. And no surprises. Let the CBSE prepare a merit list based on the best performance in either one--AIPMT or NEET. That way, students have nothing to complain about.

Sir, you and your bench made a good order. Please make it better. But do not allow the cacophony of multiple voices to drown out the fundamentals.

c) For this year, allow individual states to either admit students based on marks in their board or NEET. Either the state must have enough faith in its own board so that scores in its tests are sufficient to admit students in its colleges. Or it must go through a national test. This is a sub-optimal solution. But it might serve the purpose of the state governments and remove their opposition temporarily.

d) All other institutions, whether it is AIIMS or JIPMER or CMC, must either admit students through their respective state merit list or the NEET merit list. They could have their choice.

e) Until we could have a common board throughout the country, it should either be one national entrance or one board performance. Either way, it will finally be one test.

Sir, you and your bench made a good order. Please make it better. But do not allow the cacophony of multiple voices to drown out the fundamentals.

Regards,

Mahesh

Like Us On Facebook |
Follow Us On Twitter |
Contact HuffPost India

Also see on HuffPost:

Part II: Hilarious Videos Of Indians Losing It On Their Wedding Day

More On This Topic