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by News Distributed by NewSouthAsia.org

On The Un(der)-Reported NEET Scandal

There's a national scandal brewing in India which - as far as I know - has not been widely reported, if at all, in the American press. (If it has been reported, please let me know.)

Reporting on issues like this may help readers of American newspapers understand India more in depth than the continuing regurgitation of India's national politics and Modi which seem to preoccupy most of the media.


This is a scandal far worse than our (American) version of it, the2019 Varsity Blues Scandal.

BACKGROUND: Each year, 2.5 million Indian teenagers aspire to become doctors. This is great news for a nation acutely short of doctors. America also has a shortage of doctors, relative to our growing needs arising from the aging population. Only 50,000 students apply to medical schools here. And, less than 30,000 of them eventually complete the program to become doctors.

India's medical schools admit around 120,000 students each year. Hence, the competition for the 2.5 million aspirants is fierce. All these candidates are required to take a national exam called, "the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test" (NEET). The top 5% are admitted to medical schools. The competition is so intense that some teenagers commit suicide if they don’t get through.

This year’s NEET exam was conducted in May. When the results were released, it became a shameful scandal!

In an exam in which only one or two usually get a perfect score, this year, 67 students got a perfect score! And, 44 of them got the perfect score after getting "grace marks" granted to them by a dubious process, involving lawyers and appeals! And, one of the test questions on physics had two correct answers! And yes, the exam's questions are suspected to have been leaked to a small number of students in advance of the test.

A criminal investigation is underway.

The NEET scandal broke on June 4th, the day India's national election results were announced. If the NEET scandal had broken before the elections, would the election results have gone more against the ruling party?

Here's a related conundrum: India sends rockets to the moon; India is a nuclear power: India is an IT behemoth; India is a digital paradise where even street vendors accept digital payments; every Indian has a digital ID card; India conducts the largest elections in the world with a national digital infrastructure. And yet, the NEET examination is conducted in 20th century style, with paper and pencil! Could this have contributed to the alleged irregularities?

Also, India's southern states have been complaining against the NEET ever since it was introduced in the current format a few years ago, alleging that the examination places students from southern states at a disadvantage because of regional differences in the medium of education and other factors.

The NEET scandal is the proverbial tip of the iceberg, illustrating elements of the shockingly poor education system in India. All political parties in India have contributed to this mess.

Now that the national elections are over, perhaps the media will turn to important issues like this.

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by News Distributed by NewSouthAsia.org

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