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MBBS berth hope for tribal students

Here’s a ray of hope for Scheduled Tribe (ST) students, who had appeared for the All India Pre-Medical Test (AIPMT) but could not score enough marks to make it to any of the three medical colleges of Jharkhand, thus leaving 53 reserved seats vacant.

In all likelihood, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), which conducts the medical entrance test, will allow the state to draw up a fresh merit list so that the empty MBBS seats can be filled up. A top advisor-rank official of the CBSE, New Delhi, said this to The Telegraph over phone on Thursday.

The state health, medical education and family welfare department sent an email to the officer on special duty and controller of examinations (CBSE-AIPMT) on Thursday, seeking directions on how to fill up the vacant ST seats.

Although an official communiqué is expected by Monday, the CBSE official said they would ask Jharkhand to follow Nagaland.

“Nagaland had the same problem. They have been given two suggestions. As of now, they have to approach the Union ministry of health and family welfare with a request to lower the cut-off for ST candidates to 30 per cent. A more permanent solution will be to hold their own medical entrance and prepare question papers keeping in mind the local circumstances from next year so that ST students can qualify,” he added.

According to Medical Council of India (MCI) guidelines, general candidates must secure a minimum of 50 per cent marks and ST/SC/OBC/PWD 40 per cent in the test.

“But under AIPMT, we have 25 per cent of negative marking, which lowers the percentage. So, it will be ideal for the two states to re-check marks of the tribal students, omit the negative marks and prepare a fresh list. But all these need to be done through the director-general of health services under the Union ministry of health and family welfare and the MCI. Jharkhand officials need to come here and obtain permission,” he advised.

Jharkhand, which has 76 seats set aside for MBBS aspirants hailing from the ST community, found only 23 eligible candidates in the list sent by the CBSE this year. While the CBSE conducts the exam, Jharkhand Combined Entrance Competitive Examination Board (JCECEB) is in charge of the counselling process.

“More than 50 per cent seats will remain vacant if a solution is not worked out soon. At a time when the state needs medicos, we cannot leave 53 seats vacant,” said joint secretary of the health department B.K. Mishra.