The NR Eye: NEET not so neat for NRIs

Guest article by Moiz Mannan
Medical aspirants in India are facing a tough time because of court cases and procedural delays in admissions to the coming academic session. For non-resident Indian (NRI) students, it is turning out to be quite a nightmare.
Pending the Supreme Court’s final ruling on the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET), there is total chaos particularly with regard to admissions to the medical (MBBS) and dental (BDS) courses in colleges across the country. NRIs are the worst sufferers because there already hangs a question mark on the seats set aside for them owing to rampant malpractices and fleecing.
Following a notification published in the Gazette of India Extraordinary dated December 21, 2010, the Medical Council of India with the approval of the Central Government amended the regulations on Graduate Medical Education 1997 and made provision for a Single Eligibility cum Entrance Examination, namely, National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for admission to the MBBS course in each academic year. 
The Dental Council of India also amended the BDS Course Regulations 2007 and notified in the Gazette of India Extraordinary dated May 31, 2012 that admission to BDS course in each academic year shall be through NEET. 
The Medical Council of India and Dental Council of India have notified that the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) shall be the organisation to conduct NEET for admission to MBBS and BDS courses. 
Accordingly, CBSE will conduct the test for admission to MBBS and BDS courses in the academic session 2013-14 on Sunday, the May 5. NEET-UG in Karnataka state has been postponed to May 18, owing to state assembly elections.
The NEET (UG) shall consist of one paper containing 180 objective type questions (four options with single correct answer) from Physics, Chemistry and Biology (Botany and Zoology). An All India merit list and state wise merit list of the qualified candidates shall be prepared on the basis of the marks obtained in the NEET and candidates shall be admitted to MBBS/BDS courses from the said list only by following the Existing Reservation Policies. All admission to MBBS/BDS courses within in the respective categories shall be based solely on marks obtained in the NEET. 
However, the MCI move was challenged in the court by some private medical colleges and the states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and UT of Puducherry, seeking exemption from NEET.
Earlier, the MCI had announced that NEET, to be held for the first time this year, is mandatory for admissions to undergraduate and postgraduate courses in all government and private medical colleges that come under the ambit of the Indian Medical Council (IMC) Act, 1956. However, hearing the pleas of opposing states and private medical colleges, the SC on December 13, 2012, permitted them to conduct their respective examinations for MBBS, BDS and postgraduate courses, but restrained them from publishing the results till the outcome of pending cases. The fate of such entrance examinations will depend on the final SC verdict.
The delay in court has made medicine aspirants jittery. Students across the country have staged protests against the delay. The Postgraduate Medical Education Regulations listed by the MCI state that universities cannot admit wait-listed students beyond May 31 after which vacant seats cannot be filled.
There is growing concern among students that the mid-year vacation for the apex court from mid-May to June 21 will delay the decision further. 
Usually, classes for post-graduate students begin by March 1 in case of all-India examinations while colleges in states commence their year a few days later. So, there already has been a delay of two months. Instead of lessening the burden on students, confusion over the examinations is making candidates spend as much as Rs50,000 each as application fees for various examinations. According to one estimate, the future of some 90,000 aspirants is thus hangs in balance.
For the overseas students, the suspense is killing because NEET does not have clear instructions for the admission of NRI students. Each year, nearly 2,000 students of Indian origin claim seats in the NRI quota.
While 15 percent of the total seats in private medical and dental colleges are reserved under the NRI quota, Express News Service quoted sources from the Directorate of Medical Education as saying that so far they do not know the number of seats allocated for each state or the modality of admissions.
The number of seats for any state or the number of seats in the NRI quota has not been announced by the central government for both under and postgraduate medical courses, the sources were quoted as having said. Further, NRIs in the US and Europe are even more worried because there are no test centres in their geographical areas.
Several Indian community organisations in the US have termed the NEET-UG as discriminatory to NRI students and have sought its gradual implementation over two years. 
Organisations including the Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO), Global Indian Diaspora Foundation, Federation of Kerala Association of North America (FOKANA) and Federation of Malayalee Association of America (FOMA) have written to the central and state authorities in this regard. The GOPIO has asked the authorities to maintain status quo on admission of NRI students to medical and dental colleges for two years. 
For the last 20 years, Indian medical colleges have been giving admission to NRI students based on NRI quota on the basis of equivalent certificate from the education section of the Indian missions and the Association of Indian Universities, GOPIO said. 
The Peninsula

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