By A Special Correspondent
Kalpana Kumari from Bihar needs to be congratulated for getting a mind-boggling 99.99% in NEET, the national level exam for admission to MBBS and BDS degree courses. It will go a long way in erasing the negativity associated with exams and Bihar, especially after reports of large scale cheating and abysmal pass percentages in state exams. The other good news is that the maximum number of successful candidates are from another backward state (in terms of education), Uttar Pradesh. A total of 12.69 lakh candidates appeared for the exam with 7.14 lakh clearing it. It was conducted in 136 cities and 11 languages.
But the next headache for these candidates will be getting admission in a good medical or dental college. With the government announcing just a day earlier that it has withheld permission for 82 medical colleges to take fresh admissions this year and rejected the applications of 68 colleges for increasing seats or setting up new facilities, the number of seats has come down drastically. There will be tough competition and only about 55000 of the 7.4 lakh successful candidates will get a chance to pursue a medical career.
This must be extremely heartbreaking for them. It is also distressing for the nation which is already facing a severe shortage of doctors. The government must urgently work out how this problem can be tackled. Obviously, allowing colleges with poor infrastructure to churn out half-baked doctors can never be accepted. But opening more colleges under PPP or foreign collaboration and letting them charge higher fees as per their upscale infrastructure can be a solution. There should not be quota restrictions on such new colleges – like admitting SC/ST, OBC or other candidates at lower fees. If necessary for requirement of affirmative action, the government can provide direct subsidy to such candidates who secure admissions in these colleges to pay the full fees charged. Banks can be asked to provide unsecured loans to such candidates. Medical study comes at a huge cost and quality private colleges will need to invest hugely in quality infrastructure. They will need to, and should be allowed to, make reasonable profits to recoup their investment in good time. It should not be seen as making medical education elitist.