State U-turn on medical test

Sumi Sukanya

New Delhi, Nov. 3: Bihar has now reversed its stand on the National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET) and expressed solidarity with the Union health ministry's move to start the examination from the next academic session.

NEET is a common pre-medical examination for admission into undergraduate and postgraduate courses in all medical colleges across the country. The state had initially opposed the Centre's decision to start the test.

In a letter to the Union health ministry, the state government has said that it had earlier resisted the move due to some "misunderstandings" and will now open the doors of its medical colleges to students with NEET scores.

"We are with the Centre on the issue and are in the process of initiating action against the official who filed a counter-affidavit in the Supreme Court saying that the state government was against the Centre's decision of centralising the pre-medical tests," health minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey told The Telegraph.

The "official" who had filed the counter-affidavit in the apex court ' Dr N.P. Yadav, controller of examination in the health department ' said the government should not make him a "scapegoat" as he had done so after due approval by the then principal secretary in his department.

"It was not my personal opinion to oppose NEET and go to the high court and Supreme Court asking for exemption from the test. The department chief wanted it that way. Now since the Medical Council of India has already notified the test and the cases are still pending in the court, we have decided to go for the examination. My stand is what the government's is. Therefore, I should not be blamed for what happened in the past," Yadav said in his defence.

Bihar had opposed the proposal to hold a single pre-medical test on the ground that education is a state subject. As every state has its own syllabus, it is not right to go for a common examination for all medical colleges in the country, the government had earlier contended.

"We were earlier of the view that as medical colleges in the state are run by the state government and are state establishments, why should they be open to students of all states? In any case we had been offering 15 per cent seats to students through the CBSE-All India Pre Medical Test quota. However, as the Centre had been adamant and has gone ahead with its proposal, we had no choice but to fall in line," Yadav added.

Bihar and a few other states had vehemently been opposing NEET. Some states such as Tamil Nadu and Jammu and Kashmir had even taken a stay from their respective high courts for exemption from the common entrance examination due to which the test could not be started from 2012.

NEET UG is scheduled to be held on May 5 next year while the test for postgraduate courses will be conducted on November 23 this year.