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SC favours pvt medical colleges?

Apropos the editorial 'No common entrance test' (July 20), most of the arguments in favour of NEET are based on a single premise that only those who can crack multiple choice questions (MCQs) can be called good doctors. Being a good doctor requires much more than factual knowledge. Rather than regulating the exit examination, the authorities should try to regulate a number of other factors, including curriculum, instruction and training. It is only when these things are regulated that we can expect a level playing field for a nationwide exit examination. It is totally unfair to compare the performance of AIIMS graduates with those from a rural college in Jharkhand. Since NEET was designed to work on percentile ranking and not percentage (I wonder why!), students from less privileged institutions are unlikely to make it to the selected list.

Regarding the judgment seemingly favouring private medical colleges, the problem is of our own making. At the drop of a hat, new colleges are opened and more seats are sanctioned without even bothering to look at the quality of education. The latest announcement to give 50 extra seats just for the asking is a typical example. No regulatory body - be it the university, MCI or the ministry - has ever bothered to take a look at the educational process in medical colleges. The decision to bring in a national examination was hasty and whimsical. It seems to have been inspired by the USMLE (United State Medical Licentiate Examination) model. NEET was supposed to be testing students on 200 MCQs in 180 minutes.

One hopes that better sense will prevail and rather than making it a prestige issue, the authorities will try to focus on ensuring that graduates leave the campus with not only knowledge, but also core clinical skills, which will allow them to address the health problems of the nation in a holistic way.


Even animals get treatment

Apropos the news report 'Faridkot jail staff supplied drugs to inmates: Probe' (July 21), 1,784 (about 80 per cent) inmates of the Faridkot jail are drug addicts, one inmate had hidden 5,000 drug tablets in onions in his cell and, in the last year, 47 mobile phones and 10,000 sedative tablets, capsules and injections were recovered from inmates. Could these have been supplied to them without the support and connivance of unscrupulous jail officials?

The jail has virtually become a druggies' den. This sad state of affairs can no longer be ignored. True, the jail is understaffed. But that does not mean that relatives of the inmates who bring drugs should not be properly frisked by the available staff. The jail officials should be strictly warned to acquit themselves honestly and creditably.

The government should fill the vacant posts of medical staff. In view of a large number of drug-addicts in jails, the presence of a psychiatrist or a medical specialist in the drug de-addiction centre of the jail is absolutely necessary. Drug addicts are also human beings and need medical care. Even animals are provided veterinary treatment.



NEET verdict

I am sure that July 18 will be observed as a black day in the history of medical education in India when the Supreme Court quashed the single-window National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET), dealing a body blow to the uniform admission norms for MBBS, BDS and MD seats in all medical colleges and allowing private medical colleagues to frame their own admission norms and charge, in many cases, stiff  capitation fees.

It is really sad that a three-Judge Bench struck down NEET as unconstitutional and ruled that the Medical Council of India (MCI) had no power to conduct NEET. I feel that such a judgment by CJI Altamas Kabir on the last day of his retirement definitely casts doubts, especially when seen in the light of the Supreme Court's direction in 2010 by the Bench of Justices Raveendran and Patnaik that a single entrance test would save poor and meritorious students from the physical and financial stress of having to travel from one city to another to appear in multiple entrance tests in the hope of bagging an MBBS, BDS or MD seat in a college. It will definitely lead to the open sale of seats, pushing medical education out of reach of poor and meritorious students.


Tibet road

This refers to the news item 'Hindustan-Tibet road to be revived, says CM' (July 3). It is heartening to note that the HP government is taking steps to revive the old Hindustan-Tibet road which was built by the British government over 100 years ago. It was the far-sightedness of the Britishers who built this road on the stable strata of land. The state government should urge the Central government to provide financial assistance for its revival which can be a strategically important from the defence point of view as well as used as an alternative to NH-22.


Political mudslinging

As the Lok Sabha election is due next year, the political parties have set about the business of political mudslinging, projecting themselves the real well-wishers of the public. Being a regular reader of The Tribune since 1945, I can easily say that the oldest political party (the Congress) has been unable to produce even a single leader of the stature of those existed before 1947 after the death of Lal Bahadur Shastri. As per data taken and preserved from The Tribune, the first scam of the Mohindra share scandal came to fore in the mid-1950s when an outstanding and outright Finance Minister of India T. T. Krishnamachari had to resign for no fault of his. Since then, there has been the involvement of one or two Congress leaders in almost all cases of corruption registered in the the past four decades.




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