NEW DELHI: A Rs 1.2 crore fees-and-expenses sheet released by a private medical college in Lucknow and a suicide by a postgraduate student in Indore have triggered demands to streamline NEET, the entrance test for medicine, which many feel is tailored for sale of seats to highest bidders.
Era Medical College openly asked an astronomical sum of Rs 1.2 crore for MBBS, while the PG student ended her life at Index Medical College after being asked for an additional Rs 10 lakh as fees. NEET, introduced in 2016 as a panacea to regularise medical education, has clearly failed to do so.
Sources in Union Health Ministry and Medical Council of India conceded that a large number of students—over 6.3 lakh —qualify as general category candidates, required to obtain marks equal to or more than the 50th percentile. Yet somebody who scored as low as 18 per cent was declared as “qualified” in NEET-2018.
A Rs 1.2 crore fees-and-expenses sheet released by a private medical college in Lucknow and a suicide by a postgraduate student in Indore have triggered demands to streamline NEET, the entrance test for medicine, which many feel is tailored for sale of seats to highest bidders.
The developments clearly highlight how NEET, introduced in 2016 as a panacea to regularise medical education, has failed to achieve the target of regulating medical education in India and the rot runs deep.
Sources in Union Health Ministry and Medical Council of India conceded that a large number of students — over 6.3 lakh — qualify as general category candidates are required to obtain marks equal to or more than the 50th percentile. It effectively means that half of the total candidates are declared as “eligible”.
Sample this, somebody who scored as low as 18 per cent was declared as “qualified” in NEET-2018 whose results were declared recently.
“This means that while the top rankers fill about 25,000 MBBS seats in government medical colleges, those among the 6 lakh who have deep pockets can buy seats in private colleges. So the system itself benefits private colleges,” an official admitted.
Another official in the ministry said that a delegation of private medical colleges had recently approached the government to further lower the cut-off percentile from next year.
Anand Rai, doctor-activist in Madhya Pradesh who is best-known for exposing Vyapam scam pointed out that while in pre-NEET days, private medical colleges had liberty to offer the seats to anybody without even a test, things have hardly improved.
“It’s all a mess,” he told The Sunday Standard. “The government is openly allowing profiteering by such colleges even though they are run by trusts and are not supposed to earn profits.”
Amit Gupta, a doctor who trains students for NEET in Kota, Rajasthan opined that while NEET is a step in good direction, it has travelled no distance. “If policy makers really want us to believe that they are serious about cleaning the mess-they should do two things-one, fixing cut-off marks rather than percentile for qualifying NEET and setting an upper-limit of fee for MBBS seats,” he said.
According to Gurinder Grewal of Association of Doctors for Ethical Healthcare, things look bleaker as National Medical Commission is set to replace the MCI.
“The NMC bill proposes that there will be fee regulation for 50 per cent of seats in private colleges. The rest will continue to be sold at exorbitant prices. Sadder and rather frightening part is that even after paying such prices, the quality of education students get is questionable,” he said.
“Is the government okay allowing that in a country with such low doctor-patient ratio - India has one allopathic doctor for 11,082 patient as against the WHO recommended ratio of 1:1000?”
Meanwhile, members of resident doctors’ association at AIIMS, Delhi who protested against the two developments on Friday, said that the government is increasingly promoting privatisation of medical colleges.
“We are extremely worried that talented students from poor families will never be able to become doctors in the country and NMC, with its faulty provision, will make the scene worse than it already is,” said Harjit Singh Bhatti, president of the association.