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NEET's credibility must be restored

NEETs credibility must be restored

The Central Government has informed the Supreme Court that it has decided to cancel the results of 1563 students who were given grace marks in the National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET) conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA) for admission to medical courses in the country. A retest will be conducted for them on June 23. Those who are not prepared will be given their scores with no grace marks. The action follows allegations of widespread irregularities in the examination. The Supreme Court, while considering a petition in this regard, pointed out that the doubts and controversies that arose regarding the running of 'NEET' have affected the sanctity of the examination. The Supreme Court, which opined that the examination is not beyond interference and it is necessary to answer the questions raised by the students, also sought an explanation from the agency. It was in the backdrop of government and private medical colleges in the country resorting widespread fraud in admitting students into courses like MBBS, BDS, BVSC etc. that the exam was run under CBSE first and under NTA since 2019. However, the conduct of this exam has been under a shadow of doubt since the beginning. In addition, there are issues of question paper leak, impersonation, and urban-rural disparity. However, this is the first time that so many doubts have been raised about the reliability of the examination, and several petitions were filed in the courts.

Controversies have been on the rise since May 5, when the NEET exam was held this year. 23.33 lakh students appeared for the exam. After the release of the result, the controversy escalated, and students and institutions approached the courts. 67 students got full marks this time, including six students who sat next to each other at the same centre in Haryana. There was also the odd incident of some getting 718 and 719 marks, which were never possible in the assessment, where four marks were awarded per question and a loss of one mark for one wrong answer. The officials explained that this was due to the grace mark awarded. The reason given for granting such liberal grace marks was late commencement of examinations in a few centres. Giving grace marks in an exam like 'NEET', which is conducted to find more qualified candidates, is grossly unfair. Even if one mark is given as grace, the difference in rank is tens of thousands. Not only that, nepotism and influence will naturally come into play. If there were those who could not appear in the exam, they should not have delayed coming to the decision of re-examination. This has happened during COVID-19. There is a strong allegation that the current examination is unscientific and that it is designed to benefit the upper class of society, the rich in the cities and the similarly privileged. Mostly, it is those who received practice in writing the exam several times that reached the top. Such facilities are far out of the reach of rural areas and poor and backward sections. Though such observations have been raised in the past, they have gained further strength in the wake of the current controversy.

The Tamil Nadu government has been taking a stance against NEET for years. The Legislative Assembly passed a bill aimed at exempting the students of the state from NEET, but the bill did not get the President's assent. Apart from being written by the largest number of students in the country, NEET is also important as an entrance exam to the healthcare sector of society. The failure to preserve the credibility of entrance test to the health sector is not to be brooked at any rate. What suffers in the process is the trust and essence of medical education. Unqualified people becoming part of the healthcare system is a concern for the entire society. The Supreme Court said that the reason for not granting the students' plea to cancel the examination was such drastic action would affect further processes. However, the court came forward to annul the grace mark. It must be assumed from this that the Supreme Court is also convinced that there are some problems somewhere. Therefore, rational and urgent remedial instructions of the court are imperative in order to help maintain the credibility of the examination and rectify the deficiencies in the current system.

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TAGS:Supreme CourtNEETfraudEditorial
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