The National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET) for the undergraduate medical courses in the country has been shrouded with controversy ever since its conception and this year has been no different. The entire debate has brought to fore yet again the fundamental questions regarding the federal rights of the states when it comes to education. In fact, these were the prime concerns when the NEET was being pushed last year and the fact these debates are a recurring feature points to the fact that central government has absolutely failed to address these concerns.
The latest debate on NEET pertains to the intervention of the judiciary. The on Monday gave a go-ahead to the Central Bureau of Secondary Education to declare the results. Supreme Court stayed the Madras high court’s May 24 interim stay on the publication of NEET results on a batch of pleas alleging that a uniform question paper was not given in the examination and there was a vast difference between the ones in English and in Tamil. In fact, such anomalies were also reported in other regional languages as well. While pronouncing this judgment, the Supreme Court went to the extent of saying that “no other High Court in the country should deal with NEET related issues.” Many legal commentators have seen it ‘not just judicial overreach but judicial oppression, wherein the powers given to the High Courts given under the article 226 of the constitution is being eroded’. Given the fact that education is in concurrent list, we are clearly witnessing an onslaught of centralization by the state- of which judiciary is obviously an integral part.
The stated objectives behind bringing NEET were primarily: to prevent donation, illegal profit and any other malpractices and to reduce burden (mental and financial) on medical aspirants who were forced to appear in numerous entrance examinations across the country. However even last year, concerns were raised regarding giving absolute centralized powers to CBSE to conduct these examinations and the impact that this will have on the students from the regional boards, studying in regional languages. Student movement at that point of time had also proposed that various boards should be given the responsibility to conduct these exams on a rotating basis, with centre taking the main financial burden. The current mess, which this zeal towards centralization has resulted in, points to the necessity of taking this proposal very seriously. As far as the question of checking the malpractices in medical admissions is concerned, it is clear that no headway can be made unless and until the nexus between the education mafia and the ruling class’ politicians is nabbed.
However, given the commitment of the ruling party towards the centralizing and homogenizing ideology of ‘Hindi-Hindu-Hindustan’ and market fundamentalism; there are serious doubts that it will do anything to undo the mess. In fact, this mess is a logical culmination of the ideology which it professes and practices. The need hence is to build a strong ideological campaign against this thrust of centralization and the concrete manner in which it manifests in the field of education.