Slated for implementation in 2013, the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for undergraduate medical programmes has stirred considerable speculation in the medical fraternity across the country. “A common entrance test will definitely translate to a boon for students aspiring for medical studies as they will need to concentrate on preparing for one exam instead of multiple exams conducted by different medical colleges that come under various private consortiums, state governments and deemed universities like Banaras Hindu University (BHU) and Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC) Pune,” says Dr Nand Kumar, associate professor psychiatry and sub dean, AIIMS.
However, Kumar informs that some states like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and few others have expressed strong reservations against the system. “Individual states are governed by their own teaching standards. And hence these states feel that a uniform centrally administered test might not be an objective measure to gauge merit. In other words, these states are of the opinion that NEET might fall short of ensuring that all the deserving candidates from every state qualify for a seat,” he explains. A senior faculty from AIIMS dismisses the possibility that this logic could be the only ground for resistance. Requesting anonymity she says, “In certain states reservation of medical seats are often determined by vested interests. Since only a combined central quota will be possible in terms of reservation when NEET comes into force the reasons for apprehension are self explanatory.”
Kumar says that apart from its promising prospects in terms of curbing corruption in the admission system NEET will also ease the strain on the national exchequer as infrastructural and administration costs will significantly come down if a single test is implemented across the country. Despite a few genuine apprehensions, the majority of Indian states are largely in favour of NEET. According to an MCI spokesperson, the biggest concerns perhaps centre around the assurance of consistent quality supervision and implementation of an error-free system, especially because NEET entails huge numbers – approximately 40,000 seats. “This is where the proposed central coordination committee will need to shoulder a strong onus and ensure high standards along with transparent and fair play,” shares Kumar.