By Aishik Purkait and Shreya Venkatraman:
After the Supreme Court judgement, which cleared the deck for holding the National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET) for MBBS in two phases for the academic year 2016-17, with NEET 1 already been held on May 1 and NEET 2 for students who did not appear for the first phase of the exam, it was made clear that all other admission tests, held and scheduled, stands scrapped. This made the NEET compulsory for those seeking MBBS admission as it was created to have a common level playing field. This led to protests across various states with people coming out to the streets to voice their opposition. In West Bengal, the scene was not very different.
Seeing the growing protests, the courts allowed the state to hold their own state exams which were earlier called off. The West Bengal State (WBJEE) exams were scheduled to be conducted in the month of July.
However, between the months of June and July, between the first and second NEET exam scheduled to take place in the month of July, all the seats were sold according to the rank that a student wanted. On Facebook, people proudly proclaimed how they had bought seats and went on to tell people that they should not worry and will get a rank of their choice if they pay an amount which went up to an amount as high as INR 50-60 lakhs and beyond.
About 86,000 students registered for the exam but only 54,000 students appeared for the exams. Questions were also raised on the fact that students who scored marks as high as 173 or 217 were not given a rank even though the qualifying marks for the Unreserved category (UR) was 215 out of 250.
Unlike the previous year , this year around 12,000 students qualified while last year around 5,000 people qualified. The obvious uptick has raised plenty of questions.
Accusations were raised against one of the residential coaching institutions, Al Ameen Mission, Panchur, Bengal. It was attacked with allegations that most of its students attained a rank in the first 1500 of the merit list as mentioned in a tweet by Dr. Amit Gupta, an MBBS doctor from TN Medical college, Mumbai, and an RTI activist.
266 out of the first 1500 ranks were allotted to students from this particular institution adding to the absurdity of roll numbers being allotted to these students one after the other and on being given the same center. This alleged involvement was nothing but an extension of the online trading of seats to students.
Questions were also raised on the two private medical colleges in Bengal.
Two of West Bengal’s private medical colleges, KPC Medical College and Hospitals and IQ city have been accused of being involved in this case. “Cake nahi khaya pura bakery kha liya ” (“You didn’t just eat the cake, you ate the entire bakery”) was the observation of the Calcutta High Court on their respective admission processes.
KPC Medical college in its admission notice mentioned that the seats will be allotted on first-come-first-serve basis to the first 77 applicants, which leaves open the sanctity of the profession itself. It released its ranks before all the applications were even filed and hence the students had no choice but to start a statewide protest against the college. In response, the management of the college said that the previous list would be removed and instead a new list will be published.
IQ city on the other hand published the roll numbers and the name of the applicants without the ranks, making their admission process vague.
“I’m very upset about whatever happened and this is unfair as I have been preparing for the past two years. I was expecting at least a seat in dental colleges,” said Tannavi Singh, one of the aspiring medical students in Kolkata. Tannavi’s plight is very similar to the thousands of students who worked hard to study for the one thing that mattered the most to them: getting a good rank to get into a good medical college.
Another student, who refused to be named said, “After the publication of WBJEE results, we have been pushed to a condition of deep frustration and depression. I scored 167 and got 2532 rank instead of getting a rank between 500-700 which indicates the corruption and nepotism in the entire process. The attitude of the WBJEE board of not publishing total merit list along with the score on an open platform adds fuel to the suspicion.”
These accounts from the aspirants raises questions regarding the profession itself while answers and the road ahead remains unclear.