Admission Of Students For further studies on the basis of their final marks in the respective prerequiste course is just and equitable, providing equal opportunities to all the aspirants
Majority sections of the people of this land have been denied education through religious dogmatic prescription for centuries together. During the past few decades efforts have been made for the oppressed section to get opportunities in education andrepresentation in the relevant employment.The compensatory ways and means, created for the uplift of the suppressed have been blocked in one form or other by the historically privileged people and their disguised endeavours in the name of merit and efficiency.
India is a sub continent of cultural diversity. Pluralism is the unique feature and cornerstone in the nation building exercise. Without understanding the practical realities, ‘nationalism’ is being advocated by imposing uniformity. For a nation building patriotic endeavour it is ‘unity’ and not ‘uniformity’ that has to be valued and reckoned in the integration of the people both in spirit and practice. Instead of that, deliberate moves are being attempted to formulate retrograde policy under the premise of uniformity. It is more so in respect of educational policy. Under the guise of merit and talent, the admission to medical and dental colleges has been made difficult to the historically disadvantaged people, hailing from minimum amenities starved rural areas, without any genuine rationale. By making the common entrance test under the garb of uniformity i.e. NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test), the roads have been blocked to the students who are meritorious in real sense. If only admission to medical and dental colleges is made through the process of common entrance test, ‘meritorious candidates will be benefitted’, has become the language of the political rulers at the Centre. It is the false notion, ofcourse pseudo notion with deliberate deeds on their part. The main agenda is blocking the way to the downtrodden meritorious students to get access and entry into the medical and dental education.
At the school level academic parlance, various systems of education are being followed in all the 29 States and 7 Union Territories of the country like CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education), ICSE (Indian Certificate of School Education) and approximately 30 State Board Educational System. When the students have studied under the different systems of school education how can common entrance test will decide the merit of the candidates seeking admission to medical and dental colleges? Does it mean that the marks awarded to the students in their school final examinations cannot denote the merit of the candidates? Besides, the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test announced by the Central Government and its content coverage is more suited to the students, who have studied under the CBSE system. Is it not favouring one sect of students who are privileged to study under the system and denying equal opportunities to the rest? Without properly evaluating all these factors can the Central Government decide on nationwide entrance test arbitrarily?
Background of the Nationwide Entrance Test:
When the Supreme Court of India itself had held on 18th July 2013, cancelling the nationwide entrance test, a revision petition was filed against it by the Medical Council of India (MCI). When the BJP came to power at the Centre in 2014, a case was filed that a Centralized Entrance Test is necessary, against the verdict of the Supreme Court of 2013. Again the locus standi of Medical Council of India in the affairs of insisting entrance test has been questioned by the Supreme Court. In the judgment, delivered by the two judges Justice AldamKabir and Vikramajit had clarified it significantly. They had emphatically affirmed that the Entrance Test was against the Indian Constitutional provisions.
Introduction of Entrance Test and its Abolition in Tamil Nadu:
The Entrance Test for admission to medical colleges was imposed in 1984, in Tamil Nadu when Late M.G.Ramachandran was the Chief Minister. The Dravidar Kazhagam (DK), the rationalist movement, responsible for the many historic achievements in the social justice path, alone had been staunchly protesting against the Entrance Test from the day one. After this, admission to technical education was made through Entrance Tests. When the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) came to power in Tamil Nadu, in 2006, efforts were taken to cancel Entrance Tests. The DMK Government appointed an Educationist – Expert Committee, and based on its recommendations, the Entrance Tests were abolished. A special Act was passed to this effect and the assent of the President of India was obtained on 15th March 2007. The students were admitted to the professional courses like medical, engineering, agriculture etc. based on their Plus Two marks. The Medical Council of India made a recommendation to the Ministry of Health Government of India, that as the students aspiring to get admission in the All India Medical Entrance Test, JIPMER Entrance Test and other such examinations found it difficult to take up all these examinations and for that one common entrance test for all could be conducted at the national level. The Central Government passed an order to conduct one Common Entrance Test based on the recommendation of MCI.
The Supreme Court abolished the Common Entrance Test:
115 affidavits were filed against the Order of the Central Government in the Supreme Court in 2010. The three judge Bench Supreme Court conducted the case and gave the verdict on 18th July 2013 that there was no need for a nationwide entrance test for the medical courses.
Contradictory Judgments of the Supreme Court:
The Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court gave its verdict on 28th April 2016, on the revision petition, reversing its earlier stand, for the conduct of common entrance test for admission to Medical Colleges. The verdict is in contradiction with its earlier verdict on the same. The latest verdict is detrimental to Social Justice, the dispensation of which is emphasized with paramount priority in the Preamble of India Constitution. Apart from this, the cause of action for conducting entrance test had arisen by the notification issued by the Medical Council of India. The very same Supreme Court in its verdict of18th July 2013 had stated that the Medical Council of India did not have the power to order the conduct of entrance test. It has clearly pronounced in its verdict that the Medical Council of India could only recommend the regulations for the Medical Education and it cannot order the conduct of the Entrance Test. Even after all these pronouncements, the Supreme Court has given order now to conduct the very same entrance test. If such contradicting judgments are given by the Supreme Court, will not its credibility erode? Is it not the problem of millions of the suppressed people?
The situation in Tamil Nadu is entirely different. As per the Special Act of 2007, the entrance tests for all the professional courses were abolished. When the Act was challenged, the Government of Tamil Nadu provided a lot of statistics which ought to open the eyes of all people.
“In 2004-05 more than 5 lakh of students wrote the Plus-Two examinations. Of these, 2 lakh and 10 thousand students belonged to rural areas. Many of them had scored high marks. Many students entered medical colleges. Plus-Two examinations are also like the Entrance Test but because of the new entrance test, last year only 227 students from rural area got admitted in a total of 1195. This was the reason the Entrance Examination was abolished”, argued Government of Tamil Nadu. Only on accepting this argument, the High Court of Madras permitted the Act of the Tamil Nadu which abolished the Entrance Examinations in the State. The argument of the Government of Tamil Nadu cannot be confined to the State of Tamil Nadu alone. One can easily perceive without any empirical evidence that the arguments are applicable to all the States in the country.
Another reason is offered for the conduct of the entrance test i.e. students seeking admission in Medical College today have to take up many entrance tests and it is a big burden for them. Is it true? Even if the students write the Central Entrance Test they have to still take up even today separate tests for AIIMS, Delhi, BGI in Chandigarh, JIPMER, Pondicherry and the Medical Education in the Army.What is the reply for this? In whatever angle we may look at , there is no doubt this is a big blow to the poor from the rural areas and the first generation candidates. There is little doubt that there is a hidden agenda of the Brahminical conspiracy.
Rural area students are severely affected:
Are there training facilities in the rural areas for the aspiring candidates from here? If they have to come to the cities for that, do the poor and simple students have the financial affordability? With all these adversities, can the Common Entrance Test be an appropriate tool? In the judgment delivered on 27th April 2007, by the judges of Madras High Court, Justice P.K.Misra and Justice Sampath Kumar have pointed out this significant matter.
Is the Entrance Test, a yard stick of Eligibility?
Even if you conduct the Entrance Test, the totality of equality is just a cock and bull story. There is more chance as in ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ for winning on assuming than in ticking the right answer. Even without knowing the correct answer in the objective type question system of the entrance test, high scoring of marks is possible. Is it the correct way of judging the merit of the aspiring students? Such sort of scoring marks on mere guessing have no place in the Plus-Two examinations irrespective of the system followed in the schools.
Whether equal opportunities are available to all in the nationwide entrance test?
In the prevailing common entrance test i.e NEET (first phase of which was held on 1st May 2016), the option to answer the questions is made available in English or Hindi. Not only in the common entrance test for Medical courses, even in the entrance examination for admission into AIIMS, the candidates have to write in either of the two language. Whatever may be the proficiency in English, answering the question in Hindi is comfortable and easy to the students who hail from Hindi speaking belt. Such sort of comfort is not made available to the aspirants from non Hindi speaking areas where the student’s mother tongue isTamil, Telugu, Malayalam, or Kannada etc. Whetherthe two language option, presently in practice in the entrance test, provides equal opportunities to all the students appearing for it? The equality and equal opportunities, ensured as Fundamental rights in the Indian Constitution are denied to the student – citizens of the land, more so to the students hailing from rural areas.
Is the spirit of the Constitutional provisions, reflected in the action of the Central Government?
During the emergency period, in 1976, ‘Education’ was taken away from the ‘State List’ and inserted into the ‘Concurrent List’ and all the troubles from the oppressive forces started coming one after the other with their typical crookedness and tricks. Whenever the serpent of the Entrance Test raised its head, the social justice leaders used to wield the sticks and the serpent withdrew in to its hole.
In respect of the subjects to be dealt by the Central Government and the State Governments, exclusive lists as ‘Union List’ and ‘State List’ are available. In those areas respective government can deal independently. In respect of the ‘Concurrent List’, both the Centre and the States have to deal jointly with mutual consultation and understanding. The subject of ‘education’ has been dealt unilaterally by the Central Government on the pronouncement of nationwide Common Entrance Test for admission into the medical courses.
Can Central Government be allowed to trespass into the rightful limits of the State Governments’ powers? Can it be forgotten that even if one disturbs the minutest particle of Social Justice, there would be fire and brimstone turning into a huge mountain of fire?
It is relevant to at this juncture to recall the decision made at the conference of the State Health Ministers under the Presidentship of the Central Government Minister for Health held in Hyderabad during 10-13 January 2010 that for Medical Education, Entrance Test will not be conducted at the all India level.
Despite this, the BJP Government has unilaterally announced the Common Entrance Test for the medical courses. When the Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court gave its verdict for the conduct of the Common Entrance Test, the Minister of Health in the Central BJP Government, welcomed the verdict as ‘a milestone achievement’. It clearly shows the intention of the Central Government and its move initiated and in favor of conducting common entrance test. Their action was not mere the carrying out the verdict of the Supreme Court Bench and even prior to it, the strong commitment in favour of common entrance test prevailed.
After the first phase National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET), the Central Government felt the pulse of the State Governments against the conduct of Entrance Test, for the current academic year. The Union Cabinet has decided to initiate for the promulgation of an Ordinance by the President of India for the deferment of entrance text to the next year. The Government of Tamil Nadu has emphasized for the total abolition of the entrance test. On the advice of the Union Cabinet, the President of India has promulgated an Ordinance on 24th May 2016 to defer NEET to the next academic year.
The deferment of the entrance test cannot be the solution. Ultimately entrance test has to be abolished. Equality and equal opportunities must be ensured to all the aspiring students for medical courses by reckoning their Plus-Two marks obtained in their school final examinations.
This is a very urgent time when all the scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, backward class people and then minority people to be extremely cautious and the social service activists have to be very alert.
The BJP Government at the Centre has to prove itself that is in favour of Social Justice by abolishing the entrance test permanently. The recently elected Tamil Nadu State Government should ensure that there is no place for entrance test in Tamil Nadu. It should engage itself in necessary efforts and pressure the Central Government. Vigil and the allied activity on the part of the aggrieved section is the need of the hour. Already the parents of the students aspiring for admission into the Medical courses are on agitation path for the abolition of Entrance Test. The experience of the candidates who had appeared the first phase of NEET is also not positive and encouraging. It clearly indicates the abolition of entrance test for the medical courses. Let the efforts and agitation last till the entrance test is abolished permanently!