Sudhanva Shetty Shetty
Writer, coffee-addict, likes folk music & long walks in the rain. Firmly believes that there's nothing more important in a democracy than a well-informed electorate.
Between December 5 and December 13, the online-conducted National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET-PG) was hacked across exam centres in the country.
The exam was held through 16 different sessions across the country. It was held to admit students into postgraduate medical courses for the academic session 2017-2018. 1.17 lakh students attempted NEET-PG 2017.
The hacking has resulted in a rigged system wherein inexperienced, ignorant candidates have passed the test while hard-working, deserving candidates have failed. The unfair outcomes have led to a series of protests, student suicides, petitions, and demonstrations.
There was a massive hue and cry a few days ago in Delhi. 500-odd medical students gathered around Nirman Bhawan for a protest, spearheaded by doctors who began the group “India Against Munna Bhai MD/MS” (IAMB) – a group that fights against any corruption in medical entrance examinations.
Posted by Save Doctors Right on Wednesday, May 17, 2017
To understand the issue better, The Logical Indian spoke to Dr Sudhir, a member of the group. He said, “When the matter was considered in depth, it came to be noticed that our country’s medical education, which is the base of healthcare delivery, has been compromised in many ways. To get a glimpse into the situation, it is worth noting that there were more than 50 PILs filed in various Courts of Justice, including the honourable Supreme Court. This speaks out by itself that there is some serious problem with the current scenario.”
According to IAMB, the main problem behind this corruption – the issue that the hundreds of people were protesting in Delhi recently and which has affected tens of thousands of young Indians – is the NEET-PG fraud.
The NEET-PG is not a simple exam – it consists of speciality exams. The last NEET-PG was conducted in December 2016. It was conducted over 16 sessions from December 5 and December 13.
Dr Sudhir said, “After this prolonged examination, the candidates are evaluated by a software, Prometric – a psychometric analysis. Every person is compared with each other and a uniform scale is conjured. This in itself is a very complex process. JEE, CAT – these exams are completed in one day; the NEET-PG literally went on for days on end … Furthermore, students are not told their score – they are merely ranked according to the scale. And they are made to sign a non-disclosure agreement, wherein they are instructed to not discuss the exam questions and details even after the end of the exam.”
On the one hand, students think that those with more luck or those who have worked harder get a higher rank. But on the other hand, there are many discrepancies in the system.
As it became apparent after the examination, the entire examination process was faulty. When people were giving the exam in December, there was a cyber hacking. And some agents called up some candidates and told them that money could buy them good grades because “setting kara li hai”.
The Logical Indian spoke to Dr Kanav and Dr Raghuram Nayak, both leaders of IAMB. They said the main culprit behind the hacking and the mismanagement is the head of the NBE, Mr Batra himself. “He has given an illegal tender to one foreign company – Prometric – which is incapable of conducting such a big exam, and they are no India-based. They employ computer centres in India to conduct the exam, and these centres are not well-equipped to conduct the exam. We have been filing RTIs against his appointment since 2-3 years. Already a chargesheet is there against Batra for sexual harassment but no action has been taken against him.”
After the exam, a FIR was duly filed with the Delhi Police. “The police have caught four of the agents till now – but none of the candidates involved in the racket has been identified or apprehended. Additionally, there’s another dilemma – we don’t know how many seats were rigged. There’s no way of knowing this at this point in time. Now imagine the seriousness of the situation. Imagine the seriousness of the impact of untrained doctors. You have candidates who don’t know the difference between a stomach and an abdomen beating deserving candidates. Many of the candidates who passed the previous NEET-PG are ill-equipped for the demanding medical profession. The social impact of the issue cannot – and should not – be underestimated. People will be looted, people will die.”
IAMB has approached the Prime Minister’s Office, the Delhi Police, and local authorities; they have conducted protests and voiced their concerns to even Amit Shah. Besides the four agents, nobody else has been charged till now – and it’s been almost four months.
IAMB has the following demands:
“Is there no difference between doctors and goons?” Dr Sudhir asked ominously. “Given that there is easy money involved in being doctors, many “Munna Bhais” have entered this noble profession. And this is no fairytale – this is the hard truth. The legacy generated by the infamous Ranjeet Don and the Vyapam scam has continued and mind-boggled a number of candidates that have entered the medical profession by unfair means. That is, by the means of impersonation, computer hacking, even by managing the centres and invigilators involved in conducting the examination.”
The Logical Indian contacted the National Board of Examinations and NEET. While there was no response from the former, the latter’s number appeared to be incorrect. Therefore, there was no response from either institution.
The healthcare system of India is on the verge of destruction and corruption. There was a time when people from around the world used to flock towards India for cheap and best healthcare services. Everything was going in the right direction. But what happened? Now, experts speculate that health parameters are going to decline. The medical system is at its breakdown point.
The government seems to push all the walls to make things fall in line. They opened many new AIIMS, the Prime Minister recently increased 5,000-odd seats in postgraduate medical education – but the situation remains dire. When there is a pest that has infested the crop, a good reap cannot be anticipated.
No matter how many colleges or seats are there if 30-40% of students are fake, you cannot expect them to be able to handle the situation for saving lives.
“Bottom line is that,” Dr Sudhir said, “this isn’t a loophole but are huge cracks in the system which has allowed so many frauds to flourish without fear and if this continues the day is not far when India would have a doomed healthcare system. This is the high time strong action must be taken so that the dilapidated condition of this holy profession could somehow be sealed back.”
A petition on Change.org calling for an investigation into the fraud involved in the NEET-PG 2016. It says, “We highly suspect a scam in the recent NEET PG 2017 examination held by NBE. I, on behalf of all my fellow friends and colleagues, demand a full investigation and cancellation of registration of fraudsters … Students prepare for this exam rigorously for year and year again, many have committed suicide after failing. Please don’t let the merit and hardworking go in vain … Help the future doctors. They are what the country needs tomorrow.”
Since students across the country have taken the decision of going on a mass protest against corruption, the government should at least order a probe to have a thorough look into the matter and find out what is brewing below the garb of NEET entrance. The doctors who deserve seats are not getting any because of thousands are winning the race with their money and power. Even the least deserving candidates are getting medical degrees and starting their own practice as doctors. If such doctors start flourishing all over India, then the mass would lose their faith in country’s doctors – the most revered people humans, “next to God”.
We urge the government to take immediate action to curb such illegal practices and make way for those who are working hard to achieve their degrees.
Readers can learn more about this issue and show solidarity with IAMB by visiting their Facebook group (link here).
Thank you for subscribing.
We have sent you a confirmation email.