Mains Paper 2: National
Prelims level: National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test
Mains level: Objectives of the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test
• The NEET (National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test) for medical courses is becoming a sign of over-centralization in education.
• The interests of democracy calls for arresting the trend towards the governmental domination of the educational process.
Judicial pronouncements in this regard:
• NEET was initially struck down as unconstitutional in Christian Medical College, Vellore (2013) case by a 2:1 majority.
• In 2016, a review of this judgment was allowed.
• Also, the dissenting judge of the 2013 judgment made NEET compulsory even prior to a full hearing by the Constitution Bench.
• In April 2020, the Supreme Court held that there was no fundamental right violation in prescribing NEET for medical course admissions.
• The observations made by a Commission (1948-49) do not seem to have been kept in mind in the April 2020 judgment.
Observations by the 1948-49 Commission:
• Freedom of individual development is the basis of democracy.
• Exclusive control of education by the government has been an important factor in facilitating the maintenance of totalitarian tyrannies.
• In such countries, institutions of higher learning controlled and managed by governmental agencies –
• act like mercenaries
• promote the political purposes of the State
• make them acceptable to an increasing number of their populations
• supply them with the weapons they need
How does it work with NEET?
• In the case of education, over-centralization is becoming a reality.
• NEET is much an assault on the autonomy of universities and higher education institutions, particularly private, unaided ones.
• In the name of the state’s power to “regulate”, the rights of unaided private institutions and minority institutions cannot be violated.
Disadvantaged do students:
• With NEET and other similar national tests such as the JEE and CLAT, coaching institutes are prospering.
• Since most of them are in cities, poorer students from a rural background face a disadvantage.
• The case is similar with students who have studied in the vernacular medium.
• There is also large-scale variation in the syllabus and standards of the Central Board of Secondary Education and State boards.
• Besides, the NEET paper was leaked twice in the last four years.
• Therefore, there is not much confidence in NEET’s fairness and transparency.
• Also, there is the issue of wrong translation.
• In the 2018 NEET, as many as 49 questions had errors in Tamil translation.
• [This led to a Madras High Court order to award 4 marks for each of the 49 wrongly translated questions to all 1.07 lakh candidates of the state.
• The Supreme Court overruled this order as the HC had arbitrarily ordered for grace marks to everyone.
• It did not examine whether the student even attempted such a question.]
• However, the advantages of NEET include a student having the possibility of giving multiple tests.
• By this, students would have a chance to qualify without losing a year, if they fail in one test.
Does NEET really promote merit?
• The ides of meritocracy requires competition and equality of opportunity.
• In the case of NEET, competition cannot be termed as fair and just, and the equality of opportunity becomes illusionary.
• Certainly, NEET and other such admission tests do not meet the fundamental criteria of meritocracy.
• It is unclear if NEET is adequately measuring the multidimensional construct of merit.
• Common admission tests fall short of measuring the abilities that are essential for learning such as imagination, curiosity, and motivation.
• Empirical research in the U.S. on such tests reveals that these tests are biased against the poorer and underprivileged sections of the population.
• Thus, there is also an element of ‘class’ in NEET, which the Indian judiciary has so far overlooked.
Importance of the differential treatment:
• Minority rights are not the violation of the equality provision in Article 14 as the Constitution does permit classification.
• In fact, substantive equality, as opposed to formal equality, mandates differential treatment.
• There are even hundreds of minority institutions of Hindus as linguistic minorities.
• The Court’s opinion in Kerala Education Bill 1957 , on minority rights, deserves mention.
• A crucial statement in the judgment observes that the keywords in Article 30 are ‘of their own choice.’
• It held ‘choice’ to be the dominant word.
• The then Chief Justice Das said that ‘the content of the article is as wide as the choice of the particular minority can make it’.
• In the present case, a minority institution may want additional qualifications over and above the NEET score.
• In that case, denial of such additional and superior qualifications undermines its choice.
• Due to centralized counseling, several minority institutions, and private medical colleges are unable to fill their seats.
• This is an encroachment of their rights.
• Moreover, every vacant seat is a national loss. COVID-19 has only demonstrated India’s extremely poor doctor-population ratio.
• In T.M.A. Pai Foundation case, the Court had held that admission by the management can be by a common entrance test held by “itself or by the State/University”.
• Notably, here, universities and states were treated on a par, and the admission tests conducted by them as well.
• In all, an admission process must be fair and transparent rather than just one test for all institutions.
• It is nobody’s case that minority institutions can grant admission to their whims and fancies.
• But if such an institution follows an identifiable or reasonable methodology, it deserves exemption from a common admission test.
Q.1) With reference to the Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979, consider the following statements:
1. It is applicable to every establishment and contractor that employs five or more migrant workmen from other States; or if it had employed five or more such workmen on any day in the preceding 12 months.
2. The principal employer can employ inter-State workmen without a certificate of registration from the relevant authority.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2
Q.1) Does NEET really promote merit? How important is the differential treatment?