In the last one month Rohen George* has spent over one lakh to secure his daughter a medical seat in the Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences. No, he was not paying a capitation fee, this was merely the fare spent on travel and accommodation for the two journeys to the Union Territory from Doha, only to be told that the counselling process has been postponed.
The first counselling was cancelled on July 24. Rohen came back with his daughter for the second counselling on Monday. He was hoping that this will be the end of the mental and financial stress the Pondicherry Government's decision had caused his family. But to no avail.
The Centralised Admission Committee (Centac) was to hold the first round of counselling for MBBS seats under management, non-resident Indian, persons of Indian origin and overseas citizen of India quotas in various medical colleges on August 14. The process was scheduled for 11am but parents suddenly received a message that it was postponed to around 1.30pm in the afternoon. The candidates say they were informed by 4pmthat the counselling has been postponed to another day.
CENTAC co-ordinator Rudra Goud reportedly said that the counselling was postponed based on an order from the government. He further alleged that no reason was given by the government for the order.
"This is a purely political move on the part of the government," says Narayanaswamy, the President of the CENTAC Parents and Teachers Association. "Since Tamil Nadu is attempting to get an exemption from NEET, the government here is stalling admissions. They are scared the opposition will question them," he alleges.
The Puducherry government's announcement comes after the Tamil Nadu government on Monday submitted a draft of an ordinance to the union home ministry seeking exemption from NEET for a year. The Puducherry government too is considering the option of seeking exemption from NEET if the union government exempts Tamil Nadu, according to reports.
However, unlike Tamil Nadu, where counselling for admission of students into professional courses has not begun, the Puducherry government commenced counselling. "One round of counselling based on NEET marks is done and students have been given admission. If they change the admission procedure now, what will happen to the selected students," asks Narayanaswamy.
Several parents and students at the venue, he claims, were in tears after the announcement.
"It is not even about the money that we have spent," says Rohen. "My family has to go through this constant feeling of uncertainty for my daughter. How is it fair? All we wanted was for her to be educated in a good institute. She has really good marks in both NEET and her 12th standard. Why should she be made to suffer this way?" he asks.
According to the father, the counselling process was cancelled the last time because there were 'local disturbances'. "We had asked them to stop because there was not enough representation of Pondicherry students in the counselling list," clarifies Narayanaswamy.
*name changed on request