Last year, the BJP government passed a bill for the compulsory entrance exam for medical studies called National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET). According to this bill, all the seats available in medical colleges in India will be filled only based on NEET exam marks. The exam will be conducted by CBSE.
The application process was started on February 1 and ended on March 1. The AADHAAR card is a compulsory document for filling the NEET application. The following regulations are given by CBSE in their website.
Hereby, I am sharing my own experience with this application process and Aadhaar card.
This year, my sister is completing her higher secondary school education and aiming to get into medical studies.
Since the NEET exam is made compulsory, my father started the application process. The NEET application can only be done online. Because India has become Digital India long back. So my father went to private Internet browsing center.
On the first page of application, along with name, sex, date of birth, there’s space for entering the Aadhaar number. Before proceeding to the next page, the given details are verified with Aadhaar database.
If there is any mismatch between given details and Aadhaar database, the application will not proceed to next page. And the website will throw an error saying that name, sex, date of birth details do not match.
Since the error is more general in nature and points to no specific reason, no one can realise where the error is. Whether the error is with the name or sex or with everything.
In my sister’s case, the same error was shown. My father assumed that error is with the name. Because in the card, my father’s name is mentioned as last name. But we use only the first letter of my father’s name as initial. The other certificates also have the initial only, there are no last name.
At this point, I’d like to explain some of the facts regarding this last name custom. In India, except Tamil people, most of the people use their caste or family name as their last name.
This was the custom in Tamil Nadu as well, but a long time ago. Because of Periyar, that custom is now out of practice. In the form of Aadhaar card, BJP government is trying to restart that custom in Tamil Nadu (Aadhaar scheme was introduced by Congress government BJP opposed that scheme at that time. But now, they made Aadhaar as compulsory for most of the schemes).
If this last name custom continues for some more years, it will become family name and then caste name. BJP always wants to separate people by the name of religion, caste, etc.
Getting back to my story, my sister’s NEET application could not be completed because of this name issue.
So my father decided to apply for changing her name on her Aadhaar card. He approached the Aadhaar enrolment centre which is located 15 km from my residence. He reached their at 9 am in the morning and he could only complete the process by 3 pm in the afternoon. The centre was overrun with people for the same reason (NEET – New card or change in details).
After 3 days, he called the enrolment centre to know whether the card has come or not. The officer told him that the SMS should have been received on the registered mobile number regarding status of application. My sister helped my father locate the message in his phone’s inbox (He is not familiar with SMS facility in the mobile phone).
The SMS was received on the day of application itself. The SMS said that the application has been rejected due to invalid document.
The document provided during the name change application was a bank passbook from a nationalised government bank. He went back to the same centre and showed the SMS. The officer insisted that he apply again. My father agreed and the officer made the name change request with the same document (The officer thought that the error was something else not with document).
My father returned to home, he received the SMS in the evening. Again, the application was rejected for the same reason.
Why is the passbook given by the nationalised government bank an invalid document? The bank passbook is a valid document even for the passport application. And why does the enrolment officer not give good information regarding the Aadhaar process?
What is the situation of people who do not have mobile phone and Internet facilities? What is the situation of people who use the mobile phone only for calling purpose (does not know SMS facility)?
One of my friends said that Aadhaar details can be changed online. My father went to an Internet centre and applied for the name change with same document (Internet centre charged him Rs. 50).
Again, he received a rejection SMS. He went to the Internet centre again and showed the guy there the SMS. The guy at the Internet centre also got confused. It seems that he had already made some of the applications with bank passbooks (he might be wrong though).
They tried again with a different document (this time ration card – which is does not have a photo of my sister; the bank passbook has a clear photograph of her). My father did not receive any SMS till the morning of the next day.
He assumed that the application had gone through. He went to the Internet centre and checked the status of the name change request. It showed that the application had been accepted and the e-Aadhaar card was also available. He was relieved that at least one process had been successfully completed.
Next, they started the NEET application process. He entered all the necessary details including Aadhaar card number on the first page. But when they clicked the button to proceed to the next page to start the verification of details with aadhaar database, it again threw the same error.
Failure again, what to do next?
One of my father’s friend had come to the same Internet centre to apply for his daughter’s NEET exam. He also faced the same problem with Aadhaar details and he went through the same process to get a new card a week ago. The Internet centre fellow helped my father’s friend fill the application and the application process was completed successfully.
My father enquired with his friend about the name change process. He was told that he (my father’s friend) applied for a new card instead of getting the name changed.
Now they have two cards, one with correct details and the other one with wrong details. They used the card number with the correct details for the application.
For us, this was hardly a solution as the enrolment centre for the new card was very far away and my sister would also have to go and would miss the day’s classes.
Finally, we decided to apply with the Aadhaar name change enrolment number instead of Aadhaar number. This idea worked and the application was successfully completed. The Internet centre charged my father Rs 1,600 (actual application fee is Rs 1,400).
On that day, my father reached the internet centre at 9.30 am and returned home around 4 pm with a photocopy of application receipt. That night, I spoke to my father over phone; and he told that two weeks of sleepless nights were over and he could sleep peacefully. He hoped that the application will not be rejected by CBSE (I also hope so).
But who knows? The CBSE may come up with new rules.
In the meantime, I tried to contact the CBSE office through phone and e-mail. There are five numbers given in the NEET website (two mobile numbers, one toll free, two landline numbers).
I tried all these numbers for more than five days. I made more than 1,000 calls and I did not get even a single reply. All I got was the same statement “all lines are busy”. I sent five emails seeking clarification. No reply from CBSE!
My questions are very simple.
Digital technology like smartphones and Internet are yet to reach 50% of India. Among this 50%, how many higher secondary school students are there aiming for medical studies?
I am very sure that those students will not be able to complete this kind of application process, definitely not without help from their parents.
And would the parents who are providing for their family with daily wages be able to spend two or three days on this process?
Most of the schemes announced by the government (both BJP and Congress) are only for the elite.
When even government systems are not in place to help and encourage the students to apply for these centralised entrance exams, can a daily wager, who is not familiar with and has very little access to modern systems, be able to complete these processes on time?
At a time when exams are nearing, can students afford to spend time on these nonsensical processes instead of preparing for their exams?