After a new ordinance that is now at the President’s behest, the confusion around NEET has not subsided. The complete turnaround by the Union Health Ministry two days before the CBSE results were announced has worried parents and students across the country.
Under mounting pressure from several states, the Centre gave its nod for promulgation of an ordinance to keep state government colleges out of the ambit of uniform medical entrance examination, NEET, for this year.
The Centre’s attempt to reverse this court order has come after hundreds of medical aspirants raised objections to the sudden, almost last-minute introduction of a new system. On Friday, however, students, parents and medical entrance coaching institutes had mixed reactions to the ordinance.
The ordinance, cleared by the Union Cabinet, is aimed at partially overturning the Supreme Court verdict which said all government colleges, deemed universities and private medical colleges would be covered under NEET.
This will allow colleges under the state government to conduct counselling and not conduct NEET. Private colleges, however, will need to. “This is primarily positioned as an advantage for State Board students,” says Rajasekar, director of Emphasis NEET Coaching. He welcomes the move, but severely criticizes the way the government had dilly-dallied the situation awfully close to the examinations. “It’s just for this year. We need to understand that there needs to be some time for the situation to settle down. The good that is coming out of this is that private colleges will not exploit loopholes by conducting their own private exams at their wish.”
But what about the ordinance dictating how state colleges can be exempt from NEET? “I find it very hard to believe that this was a move to benefit State Board students,” says Sam, director of Extel Coaching. “They have two months to prepare for NEET either way. It is not like preparation for NEET is different for students of CBSE and State Board syllabus at least in Tamil Nadu. Why they have to do this now is beyond me.” Sam says there’s a powerful lobby even among state colleges, and NEET aims to nullify this and bring forward an even playing ground. “To bring the ordinance now is terrible timing,” he says.
“More than this ordinance, it is the constant confusion that is upsetting us,” says Danny, a CBSE student of Acharya International School. “The forms have been delayed, the examinations have been delayed. It’s just unnerving.” Danny’s eyes are on Manipal, where he has written the private exam that was previously conducted on April 10. After the NEET was announced to be conducted across the board, he wrote the 1st phase as well. “And now the ordinance has delayed the second phase."
The predominant feeling among CBSE students is that the State Board has more of an advantage. "They now have two entry points, while we only have one. I can't even imagine making it to counselling stage because my cut off will never match a State Board cutoff in state colleges," says a CBSE student who did not want to be named.
But does it really benefit State Board students? "Probably only the few who can even get a 96-98% in their exams. They can easily breeze through counselling. I can't," says Gokul, a State Board student. If anything, Gokul says this has only limited the number of seats. "Our domicile seats also come under NEET, so the competition is immense. NEET becomes my only choice, it is not like most State Board students are any better off. State colleges will ask for more money from those who can't make it through the cut off now," he laments. Many are confident that the ordinance will pass. "Two days ago there were reports that NEET was cancelled, and now there is an ordinance. We just do not understand what is happening."
Arvind Kejriwal, the Chief Minister of Delhi, tweeted that he had urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi not to bring an ordinance as it would send the message that "the government is with those who have black or untaxed money." So far, over 6 lakh students have appeared for the first phase of NEET on May 1. The second phase is on July 24.