CHENNAI: Reversing the principle of reservation for the backward communities, over half of the medical seats under All India Quota will now be reserved for candidates from upper castes - the open category students.
"Counselling for reserved (49.5 per cent) and unreserved (50.5) category students will happen separately this year," Union Health Secretary C K Mishra told Express.
That is, even the high performing candidates from the BC, SC and ST communities will be accommodated only in the 49.5 per cent reserved for them - leaving fewer seats for the truly backward. It began with a note in the CBSE NEET Information Bulletin 2017: "Candidates from creamy layer and those who do not come under Central list of OBC are advised to mention their category as Unreserved (UR)."
Until last year, score cards of general or OC candidates had only details about the all India rank. But this year, score cards of OC candidates carried their 'unreserved' ranks alongside their all India ranks.
For instance, in one of the score cards, a student from Tamil Nadu, an Unreserved candidate, had his rank jump from the 80,000s in all India rank to the 40,000s in the new category - Unreserved.
This would have an effect on the 9775 seats that form the 15 per cent allocated under the All India Quota at the 470 medical colleges across India.
Earlier, admission for reserved seats took place only after the open quota seats got filled. An SC candidate topping the overall ranking in general category would have resulted in a seat opening up for another reserved category student. While the earlier reservation policy ensured a minimum number of seats for students from backward communities, this policy shift appears to effectively put a cap on the number of seats for which reserved category students can compete.
"Reserved category students from Tamil Nadu might also lose their opportunity to get admitted under the 15 percent all India quota and they might also faced increased competition for the state quota seats here," said G R Ravindranath, general secretary of Doctors' Association for Social Equality (DASE).
When asked, a senior Tamil Nadu health department official told Express that they were uncertain about this matter, adding that it would be taken up with the Directorate of Health Services on Sunday itself.