A Case for Universal Medical Care : 

A Case for Universal Medical Care :

Context:

In the wake of 17-year-old S. Anitha’s suicide in Tamil Nadu, the discussion on the impact of centralised tests on federalism has gained momentum.

Critics claim that a centralised test cannot often fully capture the educational realities of every state and students like Anitha who graduate from state boards are at the receiving end of the limitations of such tests.

What is NEET?

  • The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test or NEET-UG is an entrance examination in India, for students who wish to study any graduate medical course )or postgraduate course  in government or private medical colleges in India.
  • NEET-UG (Undergraduate), for MBBS and BDS courses, are conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). NEET-UG replaced the All India Pre Medical Test (AIPMT) and all individual MBBS exams conducted by states or colleges themselves in 2013

Problems of medical care in India

  • The piecemeal approach to the problem of providing medical care in India, treating medical education as though it can be separated from medical employment
  • The skewed distribution of medical personnel with over 75% of doctors in urban areas where only a third of the people live.
  • A large number of post-graduate doctors and super specialists are underemployed. The problem starts right at the stage of medical admission.
  • Permitting private medical education was clearly a concession to powerful pressure groups who sought to circumvent the difficult entry barriers to medical education by buying their way.
  • These colleges are filled with the children of doctors, bureaucrats, businessmen and others who seek the social recognition that a medical degree bestows. Anybody with money, irrespective of aptitude, gained entry to some of these colleges

How does NEET address these issues?

  • Under NEET,Private colleges can no longer admit whoever pays the highest even if the examination marks are very low. The rule of reservation is applied after the test scores are obtained. Therefore, it satisfies the need for affirmative action.
  • Unlike marks in the twelfth standard, which can be only obtained once, NEET offers a candidate the chance of another attempt. What the syllabus should be and who should conduct the test can be negotiated
  • Bottom line of NEET is One Nation, One Exam, One exam for admissions into all the Post graduate Medical courses in the country (except AIIMS, PGIMER, JIPMER).
  • In NEET there is no difference in Syllabi for any of the State graduates as all MBBS graduates have a unified course curriculum.
  • A student can write a single exam and apply to different Universities with same test score, where merit list will be prepared by the universities with all the students applied.

The issue of Union-State listing

  • When the Constitution was enacted, education was listed as a state subject. As part of the 42nd amendment brought in by Indira Gandhi’s government, education was among the five subjects moved to the concurrent list, thereby allowing both the Centre and states to legislate on it. However, given the Centre’s residuary powers, in matters of conflict, states must abide by the Centre’s decision.

Why are some states opposed to it?

  • State Governments see NEET as an infringement on the rights of States.
  • They also feel that it will be disadvantageous to students from state Board schools and those from rural areas where the standards may not be as high as CBSE.
  • So States argue that NEET may end up hurting their students and benefiting the CBSE students who may not be from their states or may be urban elite

Way forward

A common national test for professional courses is faultless, in principle. In this connection, it will address the problem of private institutions selling medical courses at astronomical prices to candidates who may lack aptitude. Yet, it is important that the ground is properly prepared before the implementation of a common test.

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