SC verdict unfortunate, it’s back to square one, says ex-MCI chief

The Supreme Court decision to scrap National Eligibility-cum-Entrance-Test(NEET) - the single window admission route for MBBS, BDS and post-graduate courses - has come under a scathing criticism from several academicians including Dr SK Sarin, the ex-chairman of the board of governors of Medical Council of India (MCI). Sarin, one of the key persons behind the reformist move, has termed the apex court verdict as an unfortunate and regressive step. 

"While I have full faith in the judiciary and respect the NEET verdict, I think it is a bit unfortunate. The decision takes away all our efforts to streamline the admission process. We are back to square one," the former MCI chief told TOI. 

Sarin was appointed as the head of the MCI board of governors in May 2010. "Implementation of NEET was one of the key decisions taken during my tenure. The Supreme Court itself gave a go-ahead to the proposal in December 2010 following which a gazette notification was issued for its implementation," he said. The examinations were conducted for both UG and PG courses under NEET format recently; thus doing away with the need to appear for separate tests for the autonomous institutions, state and privately-run medical colleges. 

Sarin said that NEET was born after due diligence and consultation with all stakeholders including the various secondary boards - CBSE, ICSE, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh Board, and the representatives of more than 300 government and private medical colleges. "There was near unanimity among all over the need for a common exam. Subsequently, the health ministry entrusted the CBSE andthe National Board of Examinations for undergraduate and post-graduate courses respectively to conduct the exams," Sarin, a renowned gastroenterologist and current head of the Delhi-based Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS) said. 

Experts say appearing for multiple tests spend lot of money which includes the cost of form, which range from Rs 1,000 to Rs 3,000, amount spent on travelling, and there is also a variation in the examination pattern. 

"When there can be a common entrance exam for engineering -AIEEE - why not for medical courses?" Sarin said. The Sarin-led MCI had also put forward a proposal to start the licentiate examination to assess standards for an Indian Medical Graduate (IMG) under its 'Vision 2015' initiative. It aimed to assess the minimum defined standards for a doctor passing out from any of the medical colleges in the country. It is yet to be implemented.

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