Daily Editorial Analysis for 16th May 2020

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NEET is not student-friendly, merit-promoting

Prelims:  Indian Polity and Governance-Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.

Mains: General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.


  • NEET is based on a core curriculum approach, whereby the syllabi of all the school boards have been taken into consideration.
  • It has been prepared by the CBSE, Council of Boards of School Education, National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) and adopted by the Medical Council of India.


  • NEET was initially struck down as unconstitutional in Christian Medical College, Vellore (2013) by a 2:1 majority.
  • In 2016, not only was a review of this judgment allowed but the dissenting judge of the 2013 judgment made NEET compulsory even prior to a full hearing by the constitution Bench.
  • NEET is an assault on the autonomy of universities and higher education institutions, particularly private, unaided ones.
  • It is ironical that while in all other areas including industrial relations, the government is talking about deregulation, in the case of education, over-centralization is becoming a harsh and painful reality.
  • Similarly, in the name of NEET or the state’s power to “regulate”, the rights of unaided private institutions and minority institutions cannot be violated as regulation cannot annihilate minority character.
  • minorities do not have right to “mal-administer” their institutions yet due to admission mal-practices practised by the few institutions, denial of Article 30 rights and Article 19(g) rights of private unaided institutions is absolutely wrong.

Report of ’Indian University Education’ on Indian Education system:

  • “Freedom of individual development is the basis of democracy,” observed the Commission (1948-49) appointed by the Government of India “to report on Indian University Education and suggest improvements and extensions that may be desirable to suit present and future”.
  • It had among its members Dr. S. Radhakrishnan and was cited by then Chief Justice of India, B.N. Kirpal, in the judgment in M.A. Pai Foundation & Ors vs State of Karnataka & Ors (2002).
  • The Commission added (also cited in the M.A. Pai Foundation judgment): “Exclusive control of education by the State has been an important factor in facilitating the maintenance of totalitarian tyrannies.
  • In such States, 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 and supply them with the weapons they need.
  • We must resist, in the interests of our own democracy, the trend towards the governmental domination of the educational process.”

Issues with NEET

 Students disadvantaged:

  • NEET is not student friendly, for example, Tamil Nadu has been opposing NEET.
  • With NEET and similar other national tests such as the Joint Entrance Examination and Common Law Admission Test, coaching institutes are prospering; since most of them are in cities, poorer students from a rural background and who have studied in the vernacular medium face a disadvantage.
  • There is also large-scale variation in the syllabus and standards of the Central Board of Secondary Education and State boards.
  • it gives a student a right to select an institution of his choice.
  • The NEET paper was leaked twice in the last four years; therefore, there is not much confidence in NEET’s fairness and transparency.
  • There is the issue of wrong translation. In the 2018 NEET, as many as 49 questions had errors in Tamil translation leading to a Madras High Court order to award four marks for each of the 49 wrongly translated questions, or 196 marks to all 1.07 lakh candidates of Tamil Nadu.
  • The Supreme Court overruled this order as the High Court had arbitrarily ordered giving grace marks to everyone without examining whether the student even attempted such a question.

Element of class

  • NEET is considered the best option as our judges genuinely think it promotes merit.
  • Meritocracy requires competition and equality of opportunity. Is it not a fact that the administrators of NEET and judges do believe that the multidimensional construct of merit can be adequately.
  • When NEET and other such admission tests do not meet this fundamental criterion, competition cannot be termed as fair and just, and the equality of opportunity becomes illusionary.
  • There is substantial scholarship in the West that argues that common admission tests cannot measure abilities that are essential for learning such as imagination, curiosity and motivation.
  • Justice Mishra did concede the point of a lack of commitment of doctors to serve in rural areas (that was a point in Christian Medical College, Vellore) but eventually decided in favor of NEET in the name of merit.
  • Empirical research in the United States on standardized common tests has found that these tests are biased against the poorer and underprivileged sections of population, women and minorities.
  • Thus, there is an element of class in NEET that the Indian judiciary has so far overlooked.

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 Supreme Court itself termed Article 30 as ‘an article of faith’ in Lilly Kurian (1978); a ‘sacred obligation’ in Kerala Education Bill(1957); ‘the conscience of the nation’ in Ahmedabad St. Xavier’s College (1974); ‘an absolute right’ in  Sidhajbhai Sabhai And Others (1962) and part of the ‘basic structure’ in Kesavananda Bharati (1973); thus minority rights were held as unamendable and inalienable.
  • The Court’s opinion in Kerala Education Bill, on minority rights, has been religiously cited in all subsequent judgments (including the latest judgment on NEET) but without paying much attention to the crucial statement where there was the observation that the key words in Article 30 are ‘of their own choice.
  • ’ Holding ‘choice’ to be the dominant word, then Chief Justice Das said that ‘the content of the article is as wide as the choice of the particular minority can make it’.
  • Justice Mishra has rightly relied onM.A. Pai Foundation, where the Court had held that admission by the management can be by a common entrance test held by “itself or by the State/University”.
  • it is important that here universities and state were treated on a par and an admission test by the university was considered as good as a test conducted by the State.

Supreme Court’s Stand:

  • What a 11-judge Bench really emphasized was that an admission process must be fair and transparent rather than just one test for all institutions.
  • In Islamic Academy of Education and Another (2003), a five-judge Bench of the top court clarified the T.M.A. Pai judgment and held that institutions which have a special feature and which have been admitting only students of their own community but have a fair and transparent admission procedure for at least the last 25 years can seek an exemption from a common admission test.

What are the other issues with Indian education system?

  • India doesn’t have a common core curriculum, there are 50 different boards.
  • There are wide variations with regard to curriculum design, curriculum transaction and curriculum evaluation among these boards.
  • No significant efforts had been taken so far to bring some sort of uniformity in these curriculums.
  • Only few state boards have prepared their content in tune with the curriculum of national boards, particularly in science subjects, but many of them have not fallen in line.

What are the other issues with NEET?

  • There are allegations that NEET is infringing upon the state governments’ power to hold admissions in the medical colleges funded by them.
  • Students from some of the state boards are at a disadvantage from progressive boards.
  • Students in rural India and those studying in state government-run schools seem to have a lesser chance of success.
  • These examinations do not test the attitude and aptitude of the students correctly.
  • There is more concentration of students from national boards clearing the exam.
  • At present a candidate can claim domicile in more than one state, which makes the admission process lengthy and allows scope for malpractices.

What can be done?

  • It is the best “coached”, not the best “talent”, who cracks such a type of exam, Central and state governments must provide best in class coaching for such exams.
  • Typology of the questions and design of the question paper must be changed to improve the situation.
  • Upper age limit may be fixed to ensure the quality of future doctors.
  • Uniform domicile rule needs to be adopted so that candidate must claim seat only in his/her state, this will maintain state autonomy.
  • Vacant seats can be filled later through a central counselling such that all the candidates are allotted seats as per their merit.


The Supreme Court has consistently held that Article 30 is not so absolute as to be above the law and regulations made in the true interests of efficiency of instruction, discipline, health, sanitation, morality and public order could be imposed. This is a small window and cannot be widened to take over the entire admission process as some of the smaller Benches (including the latest one) have inferred. After all, instruction, sanitation, health and discipline will come into play only after candidates are admitted.

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