In a special party meeting of the main opposition political party in Tamil Nadu, DMK has decided to urge the Central Government to come up with a decision to cancel National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) that qualify students for admission in the UG medical courses in the government and private medical college in the country. The party dignitaries attending the meeting have further decided to urge the center to consider Std. XII marks for preparing the merit list for the admissions in medical courses.

The meeting was attended by the district secretaries, MLAs, and MPs. It came up with a decision to urge the AIADMK government in the state to take up an ordinance with the NEET in the state. The dignitaries attending the party meeting also made a strong demand for canceling the semester examinations in all the colleges in the state.

Virtual by nature, headed by the party president M K Stalin, the meeting demanded that NEET had dismantled the hopes of the poor and middle-class students, particularly from rural areas in the state who had the aspirations to compete and become doctors. The party said that the NEET has destroyed the chances of creating a good number of medical professionals for rural medical facilities and services.

Lacking Political Will

“Though a resolution of a similar kind against the NEET was adopted in the State Legislative Assembly, it proved to be a failure due to lack of political will that failed to obtain the Centre’s confirmation. The state government failed to show the courage to counter the announcement that NEET would be conducted on November 13,” the resolution said.

The meeting rejected the direction of the University Grants Commission (UGC) that instructed the colleges in the country to conduct examinations in September 2020. The meeting said that the decision of the UGC was not realistic as it ignored the ground realities in the country.

Furthermore, the resolution in the meeting said, “The direction should be considered as an infringement on the functional rights of the state governments. The parents and students are living in different places as the school and college buildings are transformed into treatment centers for COVID-19 patients.”

The meeting also took the decision to hoist black flags in houses of DMK cadre as a mark against the anomalies in the electricity tariff and the Tangedco’s failure to provide economic concession to consumers of electricity in the state.

In a recent development for NEET, Tamil Nadu has declared a quota of 7.5% of existing reservation in medical colleges for the students of government schools in the state. The state government declared on July 15, 2020, that the students belonging to the government higher secondary schools in the states would get a reservation of 7.5% of seats in the medical colleges.

Accepted as the concept of ‘quota within quota,’ the students should get the benefit of this declaration in the private as well as government colleges in the state. Declaring this, the government sources said that the benefit would be available to students who would qualify in the National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NNET).

In a decision a few days ago, the Tamil Nadu government had sought exclusion from NEET, which has encountered persistent opposition from political parties in the state, including the DMK, citing the educational welfare of students, particularly from rural areas.

The Cabinet meeting, headed by Chief Minister K Palaniswami at the Secretariat, also took the decision to grant instant approval to six companies that have proposed an estimated investment of Rs 5,000 crore to Tamil Nadu.

In a recent development, 1.47 lakhs examines for Karnataka Common Entrance Test, for engineering and medical, appeared in the test held on July 30, 2020. It is noteworthy that these examinees include 60 students who had tested positive for COVID-19. Stating this to the news reporters, Deputy Chief Minister Dr. C N Ashwath Narayan said, “The government took special precautionary measures for those applicants.”

“This year, a total of 1.94 lakhs students had applied for the test but as many as 1.47 lakhs could appear in the first of the three-day test schedule. The tests were held in more than 497 test centers throughout the state.” Intimating the statistics, Narayan, an officer in the higher education portfolio in the state, told the press correspondents. “The 12 COVID positive students belonged to the city. They were given separate sitting arrangements,” added Mr. Narayan.

Briefing to the press, the Deputy Chief Minister of the State said, “The government made elaborate arrangements for the COVID-19 positive students to help them appear for the exam. They were brought to the examination centers, and dropped back to their respective places in the department’s ambulance.” The government took all technical and other necessary assistance from the Department of Public Instruction that conducted the SSLC and the Pre-university examinations smoothly. The assistance was worth mentioning for the smooth arrangements of KCET.

“As per the special arrangements for the KCET, the government made necessary the use of masks and sanitizers. As far as maintaining the social distancing is concerned, the administration had ordered a maximum of 24 students in an examination hall.” added the Deputy Chief Minister. He said, “Abiding by the guidelines of the High Court, Masks, sanitizers, and social distancing was declared mandatory for the students. There are no shortcomings in the arrangements by the government. Students can happily appear for the exam.”

Earlier in the day, the Deputy Chief Minister said, “The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday had rejected the plea for a stay on the exams by petitioners who expressed concern about the smooth conduct of the test would push the candidates to the risk of COVID-19. The court responded to that by laying down guidelines to ensure the safety of the students at any cost.

Intimating the news correspondents, Narayan said, “The government is planning to conduct the whole counseling process for the allotment of seats entirely online. Meanwhile, an invigilator at the Government Dental College at Ballari was seen in personal protection equipment (PPE)covering him completely. Worth-mentioning, five out of 60 COVID positive students expressed their satisfaction over the precautionary measures that the government practiced during the safe conduction of the KCET exam.

Due to severe conditions caused by the pandemic, the students have been badly hit. Right from academic courses to career courses, students are the worst affected. The examinations for ICSE, CBSE, and the State Board exams have been a mess. These institutions have, somehow completed the evaluation process and have declared the results as well. But that is not at all good for the examinees that are supposed to appear in the JEE and NEET exams this year.

As per the declared schedules, the Joint Entrance Examinations 2020 is scheduled to be held from September 1 to September 6, 2020, whereas the proposed date for National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET) 2020 is supposed to be held on September 13, 2020. In a recent development, the students have started a media online campaign, named #PostponeJEE_NEETSept, right on the day when the Supreme Court of India heard the pleas against UGC guidelines for the exams.

Though the demands for the postponement of the scheduled exams are rising higher and higher, the National Testing Agency (NTA), the conducting body of both the esteemed career exams, has come up with no updates so far. The decision of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) is also awaited. Worth mentioning, the MHRD is all set to be renamed as the Ministry of Education (MoE).

While hearing the government’s stand on the exams, the apex court adjourned the matter till August 10, 2020. Immediately after this announcement at the Supreme Court of India, the students started the campaign on social media. Speaking to the news reporters, Sandeep Saurav, the National General Secretary of All India Students’ Association (AISA) said, “Exams in any form are a threat during this Covid-19 outbreak. We reject (the) discriminatory mode of education in toto.”

Responding to the developments, the HRD Minister of India, Mr. Ramesh Pokhriyal “Nishank” told the news reporters that the government would come up with the decision soon. However, he said that the government prioritizes the health and safety of the students.

In another development, Anulekha Boosa, the National Secretary of the National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) said, “With India crossing 1.6 million marks in corona cases, the government wants to conduct exams instead of trying to put a full stop to the pandemic. Stop putting a question mark about students’ safety and start working in the best interest of students.” The reactions of the students and their respective organizations/unions, supporting the demand for postponement, are pouring in from all over the country.

Meanwhile, the Karnataka Common Entrance Test or KECT was held on 31 July that was attended by more than 1.47 lakhs students. It is good to mention that the 60 COVID-19 patients also appeared in the KCET.

The Council For Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) has announced a reduction of 25 percent of the syllabus for the 2021 board examination for classes 10 and 12. The decision has been reached owing to the disruption caused by the continuous closure of the educational institutions due to the pandemic. It is good to mention that the schools and other educational institutions have been running closed since the outbreak of the pandemic early this year.  

Announcing this information, CICSE Chief Executive and Secretary Gerry Arathoon said to the news reporters, “…Schools across all the states in the country have been shut for the past three months due to the lockdown. While quite a few numbers of CISCE-affiliated schools have tried to acclimatize to this changed scenario and have tried to keep alive the teaching-learning process through online classes, there has been an important shortening of the academic year and loss of the instructional hours.”

Furthermore, Mr. Arathoon added, “CISCE is trying to make up for the loss in instructional hours during the current session (2202-21). We have worked with the subject experts, to reduce the syllabus for all major subjects at the ICSE (Class 10) and ISC (Class 12) standards. Syllabus reduction has been done, focusing on the linear progression across classes while ensuring that the core concepts related to the subject are not disturbed.”

Arathoon also said, “At present, CISCE has decided to reduce the syllabi up to 25 percent, but that is subject to further review of the prevailing conditions. The council may have to reduce it further in case the prevailing conditions don’t turn conducive.” 

“Given the academic loss till July 2020, which is around 45 days we have reduced the syllabus for the students who would appear for Class 10 and 12 Boards up to 25 percent. Nevertheless, that is subject to further review as from the first week in July, our schools are only able to resume online classes. This could have further adverse effects. We may have to reduce the syllabi further and may even have to go up to 50 percent reduction,” Mr. Arathoon said.

The board has instructed the schools to make sure that the subject teachers concerned at the ICSE and ISC levels transact the syllabus strictly according to the series of topics given in the syllabus, so as to ease further decrease in the syllabus, if necessary, depending on the condition of the pandemic in the nation.

On the other hand, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) is also in the process of reducing the syllabus and has sought suggestions from various stakeholders. However, the final syllabus has not been intimated as yet.

Just to mention once again, the universities and schools across India have been closed since March 16 when the central government declared a nationwide shutdown as one of the measures to combat the situation caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.

A countrywide lockdown was declared on March 24, which was imposed from the next day. While the government has relaxed quite a few restrictions, schools and colleges continue to remain closed.

Ending all the speculation, HRD Minister, Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ has announced that National Eligibility cum Entrance Test, NEET 2020 Examination would be now conducted on July 26, 2020. JEE Main 2020 exams have also been postponed till July— all of which was announced in the live webinar, sources said. Earlier, the examination suggested to be conducted in June after the May 3 exam had been called off.

Although, the NEET admit cards are released a good one month before the examination date. However, due to the present situation, it is possible that the NEET 2020 admit cards may be released about a week or 10 days ahead of the examination. NTA would be releasing the complete schedule for the NEET 2020 examination. It is likely that the NEET 2020 admit cards may be released by end of June or in first week of July. 

The HRD Ministry’s National Testing Agency (NTA) had also given aspirant students an option to change their opted centres for the two tests—JEE and NEET— as students have moved to different places during the lockdown.

The complete revised schedule for NEET 2020 would also be made available on www.nta.ac.in as well as on www.ntaneet.nic.in

Aspirants for the two competitive exams—JEE and NEET— can now have a moment of respite, with the HRD ministry on Sunday stating that fresh dates for the exams will be announced on May 5.

The exams were postponed due to nationwide lockdown announced to put a check on the spread of the virus containing the COVID-19 spread.

The fresh dates will be announced by HRD Minsiter Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ on May 5. This will put an end to uncertainty for the aspirants. The minister will also interact with students online the same day,” a senior ministry official said.

He had also mentioned that the Minister will also be talking to the students through an online session on the same day. It is expected that MHRD Minister Mr. Nishank will make the announcement during his webinar which is scheduled from 12 noon to 2 pm. This is been done to help students get some clarity about the competitive examination and to prepare for the same accordingly.

During his interaction with the students, Mr. Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ is expected to field their questions regarding college sessions and entrance examinations, according to sources.

As per the reports, the JEE and NEET exams are like to be conducted by the end of June.

The National Testing Agency (NTA) had earlier deferred that the JEE Main Exam 2020 which was scheduled to be conducted on April 5,7,8 and 11 has been rescheduled to the last week of May. The NEET exam, which was supposed to be held on May 3, was also postponed due to the extension in the lockdown period.

No dates for conducting entrance tests for different courses for medical, engineering, management and other streams have yet been announced and that will only take place after the lockdown ends, declared the Ministry of Human Resource Development, last Monday sources said.

The HRD Minister, Mr.Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’stated in an interview that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused an unprecedented public health emergency resulting in the closure of schools and higher education institutes. Examinations and the starting of the academic session have been delayed. The HRD ministry is working vigorously to ensure the pandemic does not affect the learning of students. A conversation with the CBSE and other boards, NTA and agencies involved in logistics has already been started, so that the dates for the examinations once the lockdown is lifted. The task force, set up to deliberate on the academic calendar and examinations is likely to submit its report soon.  Guidelines based on the report will soon be issued. Till then, the Human Resource Development minister encourages students to continue their learning by using the plethora of e-learning platforms of MHRD. Students can get online coaching for IIT entrance exams, access lectures on physics, chemistry, mathematics and biology on the official website of the National Testing Agency (NTA).

 The HRD ministry is strictly following the advisory issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The examinations are postponed till further orders.

The Medical Council of India Board of Governors (MCI BoG) has given its approval for the addition of 10 new MBBS seats in Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Medical College, also known as MGM Medical College, Indore for the academic year 2019-20. The institute had been trying hard for some years to increase its annual intake and with the MCI approval, their number of seats has now become 150.

MGM Medical College had applied for increasing 10 additional seats in 2014 to MCI to boost their total intake from 140 to 150. However, after inspection by the MCI, several deficiencies were found by the council and the application was rejected. Among many issues, one of the prime reasons for rejection was an undersized library.

Later, after developing its infrastructure, MGM Medical College again applied for boosting their annual intake with the MCI to 250 from 140 for the 2019-20 academic year. The MCI BoG, however, decided to inspect the institute for 150 seats first. After the inspection, The Medical Council of India (Board of Governors) gave approval for increasing 10 additional medical seats. In July 2019, the college will apply for an additional 100 MBBS seats with the MCI for the 2020-21 session.

Dr Jyoti Bindal, Dean of the college, said

“We have finally got recognition for 140 to 150 seats from the MCI. We’re sure of getting the approval as we have already fulfilled the requirements of infrastructure and head count.”

Dr VK Paul, the Niti Aayog Member Health and chairman of MCI Board of Governors has ascertained that the government has made provisions to increase the number of MBBS seats in medical education by 2024. This agenda was taken with the idea of attaining the required number of specialist doctors, which is, in fact, five times more difficult to attain. Further, he added that over 80,000 PG medical seats will be added in the coming year of 2024 with the inclusive proposal of private sector healthcare providers.

According to Mr VK Paul, India will have additional 2,500 new hospitals in the coming five years and thereby creating about 25 lakh additional jobs. Thus by 2024, India will meet the WHO norms of having one doctor per thousand patients.

At the launch event of the certificate course on

“Specialist Training To Tackle The Burden of NCDs” organised by FICCI, Dr VK Paul said: “ with the improvement in the ease of doing business in the private healthcare sector, new players will enter the sector which will not only create new employment opportunities but also provide better healthcare services.”

FICCI in association with NITI Aayog has been working on identifying alternative methods to strengthen the number of specialized doctors in the country can be scaled up due to high burden diseases and conditions. In this regard, FCCI went ahead and partnered with Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (ECHO) to launch the Diabetes Certificate Course for General Practitioners (GP). This initiative was taken considering WHO statistics of 69.2 million Indians who are suffering from diabetes in 2015 and there is no good number of endocrinologists to deliver them with this specialized care.

Appreciating on this government’s efforts towards health, (Hony) Brig Dr. Arvind Lal, Chairman of FICCI Health Services Committee & CMD, Dr Lal Path Labs said that we often quote the British, US, Cuban, Thai and Indonesian models of healthcare, but with Ayushman Bharat a new model has emerged from the soil of India.

Basically, FICCI-ECHO Diabetes Certification Course for GPs is a 20-week program that will be initially taken up as a pilot project to give training to 100 GPs on the management of diabetic patients.