NEET PG 2023: Why do experts think that a postponement is unlikely?

The experts opine, had any such plan been in the pipeline, students would have been notified by now
Pic credits: Edex Live
Pic credits: Edex Live

With thousands of students demanding the postponement of NEET PG 2023, will the Centre oblige? Experts think not. They opine, had any such plan been in the pipeline, students would have been notified by now. However, they also state that efforts from their side to have the NBE (National Board of Examination, which regulates the exam) reconsider a postponement are on.

How the situation stands...
RTI and health activist Dr Vivek Pandey says, "To ask if any discussions are being held regarding a postponement, I sent an RTI query to NBE on January 17. I should have received a reply within 48 hours, but I haven't received it till date (January 23). I am trying to get in touch with the authorities but have had no luck. So, in my opinion, the exam will not likely be postponed."

Meanwhile, Dr Rohan Krishnan, Chairman of FAIMA (Federation of All India Medical Association), tweeted, "NEET PG will not be postponed as of now. We are trying to persuade ministry for the same but we are helpless sometimes. So, Requesting you guys to focus on studying, I will update abt any positive development. NEET MDS may get extension of eligibility same as NEET PG."

Flashback on NEET PG postponement
In order to set the academic calendar in line with the pre-pandemic schedule, the NEET PG exam was announced to be held on March 5 this year, whereas it was held on May 21 in 2022. Students at first demanded that the internship eligibility date be extended from the proposed March 31 to June 30, which was done. Next came the demand for postponement.

Students asking for the exam to be delayed cite these reasons:
1. Many will not have completed their internship when the exam starts, which means additional pressure for them.
2. Many are still not eligible for the exam as their internship completion date exceeds the June 30 deadline.
3. A stray vacancy round for NEET PG 2022 just ended on January 10, and students claim that they need more time to prepare for the 2023 exam.
4. The counselling may be delayed by 4 months after the exam and aspirants will be idle during the period.

This last reason is the most glossed over. Several students' organisations, parents and even doctors' organisations like FAIMA and UDFA (United Doctors Front Association) have written to the authorities requesting a postponement. Many also take this demand to social media daily, trying to draw the attention of the concerned authorities, due to which #neepg2023 is trending.

What experts think
"The counselling is likely to be delayed, as a batch has just been admitted after the stray-vacancy round. If counselling is conducted in April immediately after the exam, it will be difficult for colleges to admit a second batch of students within a gap of 4 months," opined Dr Pandey. He added that the same problem occurred with NEET UG admissions last year, when colleges had to deal with the burden of admitting two simultaneous batches of students.

Dr Aviral Mathur, President of FORDA (Federation of Resident Doctors’ Association), on the other hand, says that it is too early to predict the counselling date. "It can only be ascertained after the results and seat matrix are released," he explains.

Better for NEET to be postponed, then?
Dr Pandey says yes. However, Dr Mathur points out that in order to get a better grasp of the situation, FORDA asked its state representatives to conduct polls on how many students wanted a postponement. "The turnout was quite low; only about 10,000 students participated," he said. He explained the reason for this was that while the polls were held online, most of the students preparing for NEET PG were keeping away from social media. "Nonetheless, we received mixed responses," he said further.

According to Dr Mathur, a section of the students, especially post-interns (who've completed their internship), wanted the exam to be held as per schedule in March, as they wanted to get it over with as soon as possible. Another section of students also did not want to delay the exam as they felt that preparing for a few extra months will only add to the pressure, while the third section of students wanted a postponement.

In contrast, an ongoing poll initiated on Twitter by FAIMA reveals that from January 21 till date, out of 6,456 participants, 85.6 per cent of aspirants want a postponement, while 12.5 per cent do not want it.  About 1.9 per cent of the students want no intervention in the matter by FAIMA.

"As such, we want the government to take a holistic view of the situation and then decide on the matter. However, if there is a probability of delay in the counselling, the authorities should consider all the students' sentiments, and no student should suffer," Dr Mathur says.

Some sound advice for students
Now that a postponement isn't likely, the experts ask students to concentrate on preparing well. "Now is not the time for debate on postponement. Students get easily distracted by rumours and this affects their preparation. If the exam is postponed, they will be notified. But with only a month left for the exam, it is time to buckle up and give their best," says Dr Mathur.

Additionally, in a video shared on Twitter, Dr Pandey addresses those students who are contemplating approaching the court on the matter. He suggests that it is quite premature to do so now. "Nonetheless, if students are keen, they need to approach their local state authorities first and ask for an intervention. If nothing comes off, a legal route can be sought," he says. He further suggests approaching a High Court instead of directly filing a case in the Supreme Court.

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