Rajeev Kumar, professor at IIT Kharagpur, had taken up the issue of a common examination with the human resource development minister in January 2010 along with several other JEE reform proposals. “Due to objections in holding a common examination by a small set of people having vested interests, the then minister of HRD along with the Councils of IITs and NITs resolved in June/July 2012 in favour of two separate streams of examinations, namely, JEE (Mains) and JEE (Advanced), for admissions to IITs and NITs. The main objections against a common examination were that the IITs were against factoring of Class 12 examination marks in merit ranking for admissions to the IITs. The IITs favoured a descriptive format for JEE (Advanced) for admissions to IITs. The IIT Council imposed a cap of a total of 1,50,000 candidates in IITs’ JEE (Advanced). This was felt necessary to avoid evaluation of a large number of descriptive answer scripts manually within the available short span of time,” says Kumar in a recent letter to the HRD minister.
Some of the reasons that enabled Kumar to write to the minister are his observations that ‘non-standard’ Class 12 marks are ‘one of the criteria for admission to IITs’ in 2015. For example, the eligibility criterion for 2015 admissions includes a requirement of 75% marks or above (for general category candidates), or top 20 percentile ranking in Class 12. “Also, the JEE (Advanced) is in multiple choice question (MCQ) format. A cap of 1,50,000 candidates is also unnecessary for an MCQ format examination, which does not need manual evaluation. While the ministry is carrying out an exercise of common counselling for admissions to IITs and NITs, it would be in larger public interest to consider the pending proposal for a common examination for admissions to IITs and NITs,” says Kumar in the letter. He has requested the HRD ministry and the Councils of IITs and NITs to consider this proposal which could be extended to include other Centrally Funded Technical Institutions as well.