New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday signed the ordinances, cleared by the Union Cabinet on May 20, which exempt state governments from implementing the NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test) for admission to medical and dental colleges for a year.
Union Health Minister J P Nadda on Monday said that the Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Ordinance, 2016 and The Dentists (Amendment) Ordinance, 2016 are being promulgated to amend the Indian Medical Council Act 1956 and Dentists Act, 1948 respectively to provide for a uniform entrance examination for undergraduate and postgraduate admissions with a proviso that for UG admission for the year 2016-17 only, the state government seats (both in government and private medical colleges) shall be exempt from the purview of NEET regulations if the state government so opts.
Elaborating further, the health minister, in a statement, stated that NEET is being implemented from the current year itself for all UG admissions in all private institutions in respect of their seats. The first phase has been conducted on May 1 and the second phase shall be held on July 24.
The health minister said that only state government seats in government medical colleges and state government seats in private institutions will have exemption (if the state government concerned so opts) for the current year.
He added that as the states of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry do not conduct an examination for entrance in their medical and dental colleges, and instead admit students on the basis of marks obtained at Class XII examinations for their state government seats, admissions in these states for the current year only, shall be as per present procedure being adopted by these two states.
Nadda clarified that the management quota seats shall be filled by the respective private colleges or associations of colleges and private universities or deemed universities through the NEET UG-2016 examination only, in all the states even for this year. He also said that from the next year starting with PG examination in December 2016, NEET will fully apply without any exemption.
“The purpose of the ordinances is to provide a firm statutory status to the concept of uniform entrance examination for all undergraduate and postgraduate admissions in medical/dental colleges while providing a relaxation to the state governments in relation to only UG admissions for this year (2016-17) in view of their difficulties,” said Nadda.
He stated that the necessity of promulgating the ordinances arose since the Supreme Court is in vacation presently and both Houses of the Parliament had adjourned sine-die by May 13, 2016.
He further said that six states and one union territory are already participating in the NEET this year, and the ordinances will allow them as well as any other state which so opts to fill up their state government seats from NEET for 2016-17 UG admissions.
The health minister said that the exemption to the state governments from NEET is only for a year. This was strongly requested by the states at the meeting of the state health ministers held on May 16, 2016 where they cited the following reasons:
(i) State level examinations for admissions have already been conducted and students will have to appear for a second examination.
(ii) State examinations are also conducted in regional languages. It would be unfair to make all students take the examination in English/Hindi, particularly when only two months are left for NEET phase II.
(iii) The syllabi for the state level examinations are different from the All India PMT, which is going to be the basis for NEET phase II examination.
The health minister added that the same was endorsed in the all-party meeting earlier this month where almost all parties reiterated that while they were all in-principle in favour of holding NEET, it would be prudent and in the larger interest of lakhs of students to allow the state governments to continue with their existing procedures for filling up of UG seats for 2016-17 in respect to state government seats.
The ordinances address these concerns expressed by states and representatives of political parties, Nadda pointed out.
He added that it was the Government of India that had approached the Supreme Court in the matter with the Review Petition and strongly reiterated that the government stands committed to NEET.
On being asked to comment on the NEET ordinance, Dr Manoj Sharma, professor of radiotherapy, Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi, told India Medical Times, “NEET must be implemented as it will help ensure only deserving and intelligent people enter the medical profession. But the way it has been suddenly forced upon students seems like a hasty move. How do you expect students to prepare themselves for a new kind of test in just a month? Knee-jerk reactions like these ultimately fail.”
He further said, “The NEET ordinance should also include Andhra Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir to make it a truly national test. Right now these two states are out of the NEET purview. This anomaly must be removed.”
Talking about capitation fee, Dr Sharma said, “Now that the government has issued a new ordinance to implement NEET, one question that remains is what will the private medical colleges, which survive on capitation fees, now do? Will they still ask students who have qualified NEET to pay capitation fee?”
“We are hugely disappointed by the Modi government. We didn’t expect this from him,” Dr Shivani Sachdev Gour, director of SCI Healthcare, New Delhi told India Medical Times, while commenting on the central government’s move to postpone the implementation of NEET by a year.
“Students are just being misguided by saying you have not studied well. I was also a student and studied very hard but never felt prepared enough,” Dr Gour, a leading gynaecologist and fertility specialist, said.
She further said, “Medical education is a Rs 40,000 crore business and this ordinance only proves that corrupt politicians and medical education mafia can do anything to protect their interests.”
“NEET should have been implemented 100 percent. In fact, I wrote a letter to the President requesting him not to sign the ordinance. But if it has been signed it’s very disappointing. The only hope now is if someone files a petition before the Supreme Court against this ordinance.”