NEET is good: This changes nothing for Maharashtra's MBBS aspirants

Every change is inconvenient — even the one from worse to better.

The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) is the change for which we have always yearned. We know it has potential to change the medical admission process for the better. It is just that it has come too close to the forthcoming entrance examination. To that extent it certainly is inconvenient. But does it justify the virtual panic that has come to prevail amongst medical aspirants? My answer is an emphatic no!

The all-important question to ask is whether it will change the basic tenets of medical admission. The answer again is a categorical no. For instance, the syllabus, format and marking system of the test remain the same. The subsequent admission process also remains unchanged, except that it would now be a centralised national operation. The states will continue to have their share of admissions. It does not affect the prevailing policies in place. It does not affect the state’s right over medical education one bit.

Representational image of Indian medical students. PTI

Representational image of Indian medical students. PTI

Too much is being made of the fact that NEET will be based on the NCERT syllabus whereas all students from Maharashtra have studied and prepared for the test on the basis of the Maharashtra State board syllabus, and similarly for students from other state boards.

This fear is largely unfounded.

Concepts in Physics, Chemistry and Biology do not change because the cover of the textbooks change.

Even if the NCERT syllabus is way beyond the capacity of the Maharashtra Board students — one shudders to think what is then being taught by this board — the fact remains that the change is for all students from Maharashtra. And because the 85 percent seats reservation for domicile students is unchanged, there is no question of disadvantage for student from the state vis-à-vis students from the rest of India. Students from Maharashtra will be competing only amongst themselves.

And since the change is equal for all students, whatever advantage or disadvantage it entails is equal and uniform for all.

On the upside, it eliminates the need to appear for multiple entrance tests. It is never easy to prepare for so many examinations. Waiting for multiple dates and preparing for multiple examinations can be a huge drain on one’s mental faculties. It can also be a financial squeeze as many tests mean having to pay for many of them.

It is well-known how corrupt and unscrupulous practices play a big role in admission to certain institutes. It is equally well-known how entrance tests held by such institutes are nothing but an unmitigated farce. Historically, these are the institutes that have opposed the common national entrance test. And they will again orchestrate a charade to discredit NEET; to create confusion and spread panic.

In fact, this is our chance to make sure that merit is honoured and mediocrity supported by corruption is defeated. We have come a long way since the times when medical admissions were based on pre-medical examination results. There were no entrance tests then and merit alone counted in selecting the students. In those days, the  state was the sole custodian of medical education. Then the state decided to relinquish a part of its responsibility and roped in private players to run a part of the show. These private players introduced the concept of donation, capitation fee and management quota. Though it is claimed that merit prevails in all admissions, nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, it is an outrageous lie.

And have we forgotten the Vyapam scam wherein many state players colluded with undeserving candidates and got them medical seats?

NEET is the first step in purging the system. And if we block the first step itself, the corrupt and unscrupulous will continue to rule the roost. It’s time we made sure every merit-holder got his or her due. So, here’s my advice to the young aspirants. Time is short, don’t waste it on protests and dharnas. Belt up, buckle down, crack the NEET on 24 July.

Best of luck.

The author is a Mumbai-based consulting surgeon

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Updated Date: May 14, 2016 10:18:25 IST

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