NEET-UG exam row: More toppers due to syllabus cutback, says Dharmendra Pradhan

Union education minister says accountability of NTA will be fixed if any lapses are found

NEW DELHI: Amid a raging row on the NEET-UG exam, Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Friday said the government will not tolerate any malpractices or irregularities in the conduct of exams and accountability of the National Testing Agency (NTA) will be fixed if lapses are found.

Denying any malpractice or irregularities in the medical examination, he said, “Every aspect is being looked into and accountability will be defined and depending on the nature of lapse action will be taken.”

“The government is committed to protecting the interests of the examinees. Concerns of students will be addressed with fairness and equity. Facts related to the NEET-UG examination are in cognisance of the Supreme Court. Counselling process of NEET-UG will be underway soon and it is of utmost importance to move ahead in this direction without any confusion,” he added.

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Explaining the rationale behind the rise in the number of toppers and cut-off marks this year, the minister said the syllabus for NEET-UG was reduced as per the syllabus rationalised by NCERT.

“In previous years, the NEET syllabus wasn’t cut down. This year we also aligned the questions with the state boards’ syllabus. Less syllabus and more candidates also led to the rise in competition and ultimately increase in the number of top scorers,” he said.

He also met some NEET-UG aspirants and their parents on Friday and addressed their issues.

Pradhan reiterated that there is no concrete proof to establish the allegations of question paper leaks in this year’s NEET-UG exam. He also ruled out the necessity to scrap NEET-UG.

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“Certain allegations and loose information are coming in. Let us wait for the probe by the authorities concerned. Let’s wait till July 8 for the Supreme Court’s judgment. There’s nothing to hide,” he said. Pradhan’s comments followed an all-out attack from all fronts — students, parents, educators, and even the opposition over alleged irregularities in NEET-UG results that were announced on June 4, the day Lok Sabha results were announced.

Reacting to Congress’s attack on the Prime Minister’s silence on the matter, Pradhan — who took charge of the ministry on Thursday for the second consecutive term — said, “They have just lost the elections and are now looking for a new issue. We have the facts and misleading students and the public based on lies is not right.”

He said NEET-UG was held at over 4,500 centres and incorrect question distribution was reported from just six of them. “Just because of the six centers, we can’t question the sanctity and credibility of the entire system…,” he said.

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Asked if the government will take steps to bring some reforms in the way NTA conducts entrance, Pradhan said, “NTA is a competent agency. However, no institution is perfect and we work on bringing reforms continuously.”

‘Can’t question sanctity of entire system’

Asked if the Centre will take steps to bring reforms in the way NTA conducts entrance, Dharmendra Pradhan said, “NTA is a competent agency. We work on bringing reforms continuously.” He said NEET-UG was held in more than 4,500 centres and incorrect question distribution happened in only six. “We can’t question the sanctity of the entire system based on only six centres,” he said.

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