On Sunday, students across the country took the entrance test for admission to medical courses in the prestigious All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). The exam took place after a month-long confusion over a single medical entrance for admission in all medical colleges or National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET). The Supreme Court ordered its implementation from this year onwards. But many states wanted it deferred, following which the Centre issued an ordinance to this effect. The president raised doubts but finally signed it.
But that was not the end. Anand Rai, a health activist based in Madhya Pradesh, moved the top court against the ordinance. The confusion was finally put to rest on Friday when the court dismissed the plea.
The real stakeholders in this issue, the students, suffered due to all of this. We bring you a profile of three such students.
Mohit Kakkar | Jalandhar, Punjab
Mohit completed XII last year and dropped a year for medical entrance preparation:
“Deferment of common national medical entrance by one year is not fair for my batch. We dropped one year for preparation and thought finally there will be relief from corruption,” said Kakkar. “There should be no separate entrance for Punjab state seats due to rampant corruption,” he said, adding that students regularly receive calls for deposit of Rs.40-70 lakh to get a decent score and admission for state seats.
He said there are also instances in which students who could not pass class XII exam found their names in the merit list of Punjab pre-medical test. “They did not make it to any other entrance either. This speaks volumes about corruption in the state board exams,” he said.
“After the Supreme Court order, I had expected that I have a chance to enter a medical college this year. I started preparing for just one entrance NEET, which is to be held on 24 July. But the last 10 days have been stressful due to lack of clarity on the issue. I am very nervous about today’s AIIMS entrance as I was not prepared enough,” Kakkar said.
Punjab Pre-Medical Entrance Test is on 12 June. Kakkar has not prepared for that but he is not worried. “In any case, there is little motivation due to corruption,” said Kakkar.
Ritti Patel | Surat, Gujarat
Medical aspirants in Gujarat faced a double-whammy this year. Not only did they have to appear for the AIIMS entrance test at a short notice, they also had to appear for their state entrance, knowing well that it was pointless to do so. The SC had ordered NEET for all colleges in April and Central government’s Ordinance came on 24 May. The state conducted its entrance on 11 May, as scheduled before, in anticipation of a reversal of SC order. Students took the exam thinking that the score would not mean anything in light of the SC order.
Patel said she did not know till Friday evening if she had to go to Baroda on Sunday to take the entrance test for admission to AIIMS.
“If NEET was implemented in full force, as directed by the Supreme Court in April, AIIMS entrance would also fall within its ambit. We had started preparing accordingly. Then everything fell topsy-turvy,” said Patel.
“I could not concentrate on studies since the controversy started. There was constant distraction,” she said.
Like Kakkar, Patel has also taken a break from regular studies for a year to appear for medical entrance. Like every student, studying in AIIMS is her biggest dream. But the uncertainty that has surrounded NEET did not help her prepare well for the entrance test. Patel also regrets her casual approach to the state board exam. She claimed that the government could have let Supreme Court’s order prevail and avoided agony to so many students.
“Gujarat state board course is similar to that of Central Board of Secondary Education. The argument of different syllabus and language do not hold water,” said Patel.
P Venugopal | Chennai, Tamil Nadu
“Our syllabus and process of entering medical colleges is different from the rest of the country. It would have harmed us if a common test was implemented this year itself,” said Venugopal. He went through a different agony over the past one month. “I do not favour NEET. Therefore, SC’s April order was very troubling. I had given up on becoming a doctor.”
In Tamil Nadu, admissions are based on Class XII scores. An average student like Venugopal is satisfied with a seat in a middle-rung college. “I knew I was not cut-out for a top-notch college. I scored 73% in Class XII which would get me seat in an okay institute,” he said.
Venugopal said in Tamil Nadu, family pressure ensures that a student does not think of anything other than engineering or medical education. “An average student like me was tense because I did not even prepare for any entrance.”
He said he was happy when the ordinance came.
On his views on corruption and NEET, he said, he has not thought about it. “But for this year, no NEET for state seats please,” Venugopal said.
He said that language is also an issue. “Even though most concepts and terms are in English, unless we read the full sentence, we cannot understand the question. Till NEET is not conducted in Tamil language, we will be at a disadvantage,” he said.