NEET fails the multidimensional construct of merit

Synopsis: The policy of a single test needs to be reviewed to attain the lofty goals of the New Education Policy.


Recently, The Tamil Nadu Assembly has passed a Bill to dispense with the National Entrance cum Eligibility Test (NEET). This bill is passed based on the recommendation of the high-level committee led by retired judge AK Rajan.

How NEET evolved?

NEET is a unique system of admission, as no admission in medicine is possible in India without clearing NEET. The idea of common tests found some support in the judgment of the Supreme Court in T.M.A. Pai Foundation (2002).

Read moreInequity and injustice writ large – Regarding NEET 

NEET was notified by the Medical Council of India (MCI) in 2010. But in 2013, in the Christian Medical College Vellore Association vs Union of India case, the court struck down NEET. The court held that, the NEET as being pro-rich, for pro-coaching centres, and anti-student and one which would lower the standards of medical education.

The Parliament amended the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 and inserted Section 10D to empower the MCI to conduct NEET.  Later, in 2016, in the review petition of the case, the Supreme Court ordered the conduct of NEET from 2016 itself. The court did not accept the government of India’s requests to permit State governments to conduct their tests at least in 2016.

NEET and minority institutions

In 2020, the court upheld NEET even in respect of minority institutions. Article 30 gives the minority institutions the right to admit students of their choice. The court held that the rights available under Article 30 are not violated by the introduction of NEET.

Read more: NEET applies to minority colleges: SC
What are the issues associated with Judicial observation on NEET?

The Supreme Court considered just the legality of NEET, but it overlooked the real impact of NEET on underprivileged candidates and minority institutions. This is clear from the following reasons,

Does not test the quality: NEET does not test qualities that a doctor must possess such as compassion, empathy and passion to serve humanity.

Against equality: Under NEET, unequal (Students from different backgrounds) are treated as equals (one test for all). This violates the equality mentioned in Article 14. As Article 14 demands, likes are to be treated alike, not unlikes are to be treated alike.

Read other reasons: National Entrance cum Eligibility Test(NEET) – Issues and Significance- Explained, pointwise

Merit requires fair competition and equality of opportunity. But, the NEET does not satisfy the requirements of Merit. So, the central government should review the policy of a single test so that the actual realisation of the New Education Policy — of equity, inclusion and access — will happen in India.

Source: This post is based on the article “NEET fails the multidimensional construct of merit” published in The Hindu on 29th Sep 2021.

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