‘I have put all my time and mental strength in this exam and I am all prepared for it. I always wanted to be doctor since I was a child and now when I am actually getting the chance to crack it, I am not going to lose this’, said Gagan. He just passed school and is all set to enter a medical college to fulfill his childhood dream. Likewise, every year lakhs of candidates apply for NEET to get admission in acclaimed medical colleges of India. Since its an annual exam that get conducts every year, this year it is supposed to be held on 12 September 2021.
National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (Undergraduate) previously known as All India Pre-Medical Test (AIPMT) is an Indian pre medical entrance test to get into medical field and to pursue medical fields like MBBS, BDS (dental) etc. As instructed by Supreme court in 1984, there has to be All India Quota seats in medical field. Reservation criteria exist in nearly each particular field that has shares of Indian administration in it. Along with national level competitive examinations, reservation is available even in offering jobs in the country. Started with lifting up the underprivileged section of the Indian society, this initiation has marked its journey farther.
As per the law, all states are asked to give up 15 per cent undergraduate seats and 50 per cent postgraduate seats in medical and dental courses provided by college run by state to ‘central pool’ and rest for the ‘state pool’. Certain percentage of reservation is given to particular categories in government medical colleges. For example, SC (Scheduled caste) is given 15 per cent, ST (Scheduled tribes) are given 7.5 per cent. But recently, Prime minister Narendra Modi reviewed the reservation matter that has been raised by the medical aspirants from a long time, to announce reservation for OBC (Other backward classes) and EWS (Economically weaker sections). And now the updated reservation criteria for NEET exam are 27 per cent of seats for OBC/NCL and 10 per cent for GEN/EWS.
Gagan belongs to the General category and has lesser chances in terms of seats. He told Eat News, ‘Yes, reservation has always been a huge hurdle for us from general background. Other categories have advantages. If a candidate scores less than me but belongs to OBC, that candidate will be given priority during admission in top medical colleges comparatively just because I belong to General category. This reservation has always upset me because at a particular point we are judged on the basis of categories and not our hardwork or scores.’
The man who pointed casteism in the society and emphasized to eradicate it by implementing reservation as a law in the constitution, was Dr. Baba Saheb Bhimrao Ambedkar himself belonged to the Mahaar caste, which was considered as a lower caste and untouchable, during that time. But since the reservation has step in, it has not been misused number of times, similarly like any other privilege that gets exploit after a point.
Ritu is an UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) aspirant and is from reservation category. She told Eat News, ‘Let’s get this straight that in India, casteism is common and it will stay forever. No reservation criteria, administration law or any campaign can change it. Because it’s the mentality that don’t easily transform. It is easily visible in rural areas of the country but in urban, secretly.’ Shared her own personal experience, Ritu recalled that one time she was made to feel different than others. ‘I was looked upon strangely. People were giving us eyeballs as if I have done something wrong, this happened when once in our class we were asked who belongs to the reservation category and who don’t for some paperwork’, she said.
Sharing her opinion on recent reservation given in one of National level competitive exams NEET, she said, ‘Yes, I read it. It is a beneficial step taken by administration considering specific category. But to be honest we need more than that. Seat reservation is not going to gives us respect or the normalcy in the eyes of people. Instead by reservation criteria, they look us as if we have an old adversary. This need to be change and for that uplifting the community by giving them privileges will definitely invite exploitation. I only wish, this discrimination to disappear not only externally but even internally.’
Behind reservation criteria, Ambedkar’s ideology was to reserve seats for SC/STs in Lok Sabha (House of the people) and State assembly constituencies for just 10 years, according to an interview given by his grandson Prakash Ambedkar to an Indian newspaper. Although, exams are getting conduct online due to the pandemic but competitive exams are taking place offline in the country, NEET is one of them. Gagan recovered from covid last year and said, ‘Since it’s a national level entrance test, offline mode is justified. With all the mentioned precautions and safety measures, there is nothing wrong in appearing for it. This recent reservation does has brought up add on challenges, but I am thinking positive about my hardwork and efforts I am putting during the on-going process of preparation’.
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