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regular-article-logo Monday, 22 July 2024

All in one: Editorial on the unrest over allegations of NEET paper leakage

67 students received full marks, eight of them from the same centre, and a number of others received a mark or two less. Naturally, there is a demand for an investigation into these amazing results

The Editorial Board Published 14.06.24, 07:24 AM
Representational image.

Representational image. File Photo

A centralised test needs intensive planning and coordination. In a country with as large and diverse a student population as India, the difficulties are numerous. This year’s National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test for undergraduate medical and related degrees led to widespread student protests because of allegations of paper leakage. Hearing a plea on the subject, the Supreme Court said that the sanctity of the test has been affected. The court issued notices to the Centre, the National Testing Agency and the Bihar government, under which some arrests had been made in relation to the leakage, to respond to the plea that the examination be cancelled and fresh tests held. The NTA denied the leak. But this was not the only complaint. Over 1,500 students in a few centres were given compensatory marks because they lost time owing to technical glitches. Consequently, 67 students received full marks, eight of them from the same centre, and a number of others received a mark or two less. Naturally, there is a demand for an investigation into these amazing results. These students have now been given two options — either to accept their original scores without the grace marks or reappear for the examinations.

The examination has faced objections from its initial year. Declared illegal by the Supreme Court in 2013, it was reinstated in 2016. The government was compelled to exclude state-run institutions from it that year because the states resisted it. Besides, the Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka private medical colleges association claimed that a common test was unfair. In 2021, the Tamil Nadu assembly passed a bill, awaiting the president’s approval, to eliminate NEET as a test for entry to the state’s medical courses. One of its criticisms is that it is unfair to meritorious but poor students, who cannot afford the fees for private colleges. A major problem is the NTA’s low cut-off marks, creating a much larger pool of potential candidates compared to available seats. This year 1.3 million students have passed against 100,000 seats. Students had also objected to the three-time bar: they are not allowed to keep trying till they reach the maximum of age of 25 years. Besides, reserved seat students cannot benefit from the often higher quotas in their home states, since the test is centralised. Making it fair requires much thought. Depriving states of autonomy in education is to risk the futures of millions of young people.

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