NEET Exam 2020 or National Eligibility cum Entrance Test is a common entrance exam for admission into MBBS/ BDS as well as MS/MD/ MDS courses across various medical colleges in the country. The NEET UG (for admission into MBBS/BDS Courses) is conducted by the NBE in association with the MCI (Medical Council of India) whereas the NEET PG (for admission into post graduate medical courses like MD/MS) is conducted by the National Board of Examinations. Both these exams, as per the latest ruling of Supreme Court are to be the only entrance examination for admission to all medical colleges in the country – both private as well as government colleges. Only the undergraduate course offered by the All India Institute of Medical Science at New Delhi as well as the post graduate courses offered by Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER) are exempted from the purview of NEET. Also, state colleges in the states of Jammu & Kashmir, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh are also exempted at present.
Need for NEET
The confusion regarding the exams, however was extensive and with good reason. Before we understand why NEET, we must also understand the history of the exam. At present the country has about 426 Medical Colleges (government as well as private) recognized by the Medical Council of India offering MBBS/BDS courses to students at the undergraduate level and MS/MS/MDS Courses at post graduate level. Till about 2010 there used to be several entrance examinations conducted for admission to the various seats in these colleges. Some were at a state level while some were at a national level. All these examinations were conducted on varying syllabus as per the discretion of the college. Apart from these, there used to be an All India Pre Medical Test or AIPMT which was a national level examination conducted by CBSE for admission into the 15% reserved quota seats in the various government colleges across the states. Similarly, a common entrance test or CET was conducted for admission into the post graduate courses. In 2010, MCI decided to bring all admissions under the ambit of common entrance test which was renamed as the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test or NEET. The decision was taken at the Central Government level in order to bring an end to the increasing instances of capitation fees in the private colleges. The high prestige accorded to the profession along with the increased purchasing power had led to a rampant selling of seats in various private medical colleges across different states. To check this NEET was proposed as a one common examination which would provide a merit list for students for admission across both government as well as private colleges. The move was immediately opposed by various state and private colleges and the exam was postponed.
Initially the Supreme Court had agreed to the petitioners and voided NEET but the judgment was challenged. Though the first exam was to be conducted in 2013, till the final judgement the exams were postponed. In the meanwhile AIPMT as well as various State Examinations continued as before. However, Supreme Court, in its landmark judgment in May 2016 ruled that “only NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test) would enable students to get admission to MBBS or BDS studies”. The 5 judge Bench also upheld and recognized the AIPMT Exam as the first phase of NEET 2016 and allowed students to appear for a second phase on July 24, 2016 after meriting the grievances of lack of time to prepare for the examinations. The states in turn petitioned to the President of India, Pranab Mukherjee who in turn passed an ordinance which gave them the exemption from participating in NEET for one year. Under the same, state governments would be allowed to conduct their medical examinations for the 2016-17 sessions. However, the post graduate examinations for all private and government medical colleges would fall under the purview of NEET PG and would be conducted as scheduled in December 2016.
As per the on going debate, it is extremely clear that NEET is both constitutional as well within the larger educational framework of the country. Though there have been delays and fights – some genuine yet largely stemming from corruption, it is safe to say the NEET is the future of Medical Education in the country. Streamlining the educational set up of the country and bringing it under the ambit of one common regulatory authority brings to fore many advantages for the students. Not only does it save them the hassle of writing multiple examinations, it also is a money saving proposition. Not to mention, it gives opportunity to meritorious students who cannot afford to pay large sums of capitation fee to the private colleges and are unable to secure a seat in the limited quota. With nearly 6 lakh students writing various examinations for just about 54,000 seats across the 426 medical colleges in the country, a centralized exam is the only true way of providing equal opportunity. Even though confusions continue and governments fight it out, it can be safely said that the Supreme Court’s ruling is clear and NEET would be the only exam that would create a merit list of students applicable to apply to various government, deemed and private colleges/ universities across the country (barring the exceptions to AIIMS and states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Jammu and Kashmir).