NEET is deeply flawed, only 80K seats for 8 lakh eligible med students in India: Manish Tiwari at #ThinkEdu2022

Manish noted that ever since NEET was introduced, private medical college fees had gone up by 600 per cent in 2020
Kaveree Bamzai speaking with Manish Tewari | Pic: Satish Babu, TNIE
Kaveree Bamzai speaking with Manish Tewari | Pic: Satish Babu, TNIE

The evacuation of the 20,000 Indian students from Ukraine should have been carried out much earlier than in a manner where everyone was scrambling for their life. The Ukraine war is a tragedy beyond comparison and an aggression by Russia, on people who did not deserve to be brutalised in this manner, opined Member of Parliament Manish Tewari, in a conversation with author and senior journalist, Kaveree Bamzai. The discussion was at the 10th edition of the ThinkEdu Conclave, organised by The New Indian Express on March 9. He was speaking on the topic 'The World Post Ukraine and What is Next for India's Students'.

"The National Entrance Eligibility Test (NEET) is a deeply flawed paradigm. There were only 80,000 seats in the entire country in 2021 and as many as 8 lakh students qualified for it as the qualifying percentile is only 19 per cent. Essentially, when you have close to eight lakh people qualifying for 80,000 seats, you create a pool of students who are then willing to pay enormous amounts of fees in order to get into these private medical colleges. And the students who are unable to afford these seats head to Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. NEET incentivises a completely flawed paradigm that is only in favour of private colleges," pointed out Manish, adding that ever since NEET was introduced, private medical college fees had gone up by 600 per cent in 2020.

He added that it is worse that the students who came from Ukraine might eventually have to go back at one point of time because there is no space here. As many as 20,000 people came back and this is one-fifth of the total number of seats in the country. "I am not aware of a single medical college in this country, which has a dearth of students. In fact, if you want quality students and still continue with NEET, which itself is the subject of a greater debate, then you need to fix the qualifying percentage at at least 35 or 40 per cent," said Manish.

According to the MP, setting up a medical college is in itself a huge task and costs about Rs 200 crore. He said that every July to September, the Supreme Court is flooded with petitions from private medical to get their clearances. "The biggest problem in the whole process is the mandate that there should be a 500-bed hospital. Having a 500-bed hospital is not a bad idea, but the stipulation must be that you should have infrastructure for 500 patients. Instead, they actually want 500 physical patients out there. Whenever an inspection takes place, people are hired to masquerade as patients. This is the worst kept secret of the medical industry and everybody knows it. Everybody is a palpable participant in this for the simple reason that the money involved is humongous."

Only when these issues are addressed, the problem of overload of medical students in the country can be solved, Tiwari opined.

ThinkEdu 2022 is the grand tenth edition of what has consistently been India's biggest education conclave for a decade now. March 8 and 9 will see some stalwarts of India's academic, economic and political ecosystems bring ideas, ideologies and reflections on the past, present and future of India's education system. The sessions will be viewed by a live audience, in addition to the 2,750 registered users on the conclave's digital space. Over the last nine years, the conclave has seen some true stalwart thinkers such as former presidents Dr APJ Abdul Kalam and Dr Pranab Mukherjee, MPs Jairam Ramesh, Smriti Irani, former CM of Jammu and Kashmir Farooq Abdullah, NITI Aayog's CEO Amitabh Kant and spiritual guide Sadhguru.

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