"Abandoned by gov't and helpless": AYUSH students to call for nationwide protest against NExT

AYUSH students to call for nationwide protest if no notification is released by the prescribed time. They also hope to get backing from the Opposition party leaders
Pictures from Ayush protests
Pictures from Ayush protestsPic: @Vivekpandey21

In recent months, the medical community in India has faced numerous challenges. From exam irregularities to paper leaks, the integrity of the exam system appears to be in jeopardy. These issues have sparked widespread concern, leading to debates in the Parliament and public forums.

Amidst this turmoil, AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homeopathy) students have also brought up their issues albeit with another exam.

Recently, #NoNextAyush trended on the social media platform X (formerly Twitter). This online campaign, organised by AYUSH students nationwide, calls for the cancellation of the National Exit Test (NExT) exam. 

What is NExT and why do they oppose it?

NExT is a proposed examination for all medical students in India, required to pass the final year and obtain a license to practice medicine. Admissions to postgraduate courses will be based on candidates' NExT scores.

According to information obtained from a few students involved with the coordination of the campaign, the online campaign started on July 1 and will continue till July 7. The campaign followed an actual protest at Jantar Mantar in Delhi on June 24 regarding the cancellation of the said exam. 

The students demand the cancellation of exams for those who took admission after the 2017-18 session and are now in their final year. These students are asking that NExT should be implemented for students joining the upcoming sessions. The reason they cite is that they were unaware of such a test at the time of their admission.

It was in 2019 that the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill, which introduced the exam, was brought in, after these students had already been admitted. 

It may be recalled that the implementation of NExT has been widely opposed by the medical fraternity.

Protestors speak
Dr Reshma Khan, a participant of the Jantar Mantar protest, stated, “There’s no point in an exit exam when a tough entry exam is already in place. People could get an MBBS degree from Russia for Rs 25 lakh and then take an exit exam to practise in India. Why should they undergo two rigorous exams?”

She explained that AYUSH student organisations, including those affected by the exam from all states, have sent mass emails, written thousands of letters, and approached high courts for the cancellation of the NExT exam.

Looking for political backing

They met AYUSH Minister Prataprao Ganpatrao Jadhav and explained their situation along with submitting a letter.  “The AYUSH minister said he would consult with the concerned governing body and release a notification soon. So far, there has been no response from anyone. If no decision is taken till July 7, we will call for a protest again,” said the students.

The students are also working with the Opposition political party leaders for their cause. 

“We’ve contacted Akhilesh Yadav (President of Samajwadi Party), who said he will raise the issue in parliament. Pappu Yadav ji (independent MP) has also forwarded a letter to the ministry on the matter,” said Dr Praveen, another affected student who was at the forefront of the Jantar Mantar protest.

“If this doesn't amount to anything, we’re coordinating with NSUI (National Students' Union of India) National President Varun Choudhury as well. We will most definitely take things further”, he added.

Discrimination afoot 
Dr Praveen further explained the plight of AYUSH students in the country and the discrimination they face compared to mainstream MBBS students. He noted that the AYUSH students are fewer in number and they often come from economically weaker sections because they cannot afford MBBS courses.

“At this juncture, everyone has abandoned us. The AYUSH students are helpless. I request the political leaders, and media to pay heed to us,” Dr Praveen remarked. 

According to him, they have been raising these issues for the past six months but nobody has been concerned about it. 

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