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27% Reservation For OBCs, 10% for EWS, NEET 2021: What Does This Mean For Medical Students and Aspirants?

Author: Manoj Prabakar, Co- author & Editor: Dr. Rohini R

Is The NEET Reservation Good? Or Bad?

The government of India announced a few days back that it would provide 27% reservation for OBC (Other Backward class) candidates and 10% reservation for the candidates belonging to the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) from the upcoming academic year 2021-22 for the admission of Undergraduate and Postgraduate medical courses.

It also said that this is a landmark decision which would benefit around thousands of students every year to get better opportunities to fulfil their medical aspirations. Now this decision will allow students belonging to OBC and EWS category to apply for seats in any state in the country through All India Quota (AIQ). With the increase in the number of medical colleges, and with that the increase in the number of medical seats in the last few years, the government has said that this decision would help around five thousand students belonging to both OBC and EWS category when they apply for their MBBS and Post-graduation. This move should be considered as a welcoming one as it would enable more students and give them opportunity to pursue their medical aspirations.

NEET reservations being good or bad depends on whether we are talking about the NEET UG exam or NEET PG exam.

Why NEET UG Reservations are Justified:

India as a country has functioned as a caste-based society for many centuries and there has always been visible caste-based discrimination that used to be part of our daily lives and still is. This also led people from that time period to deny the basic rights for certain people just because they belonged to a particular community.

Reforms like reservation are a necessary tool to bridge that gap and enable social justice.

There is a constant debate that always pops up whenever such schemes are announced, is reservation still a need? Is it not time to choose candidates based on merit rather than reservation? This might sound valid, but we also should understand that what we are trying to fix through reservation is the hundreds and thousands of years of wrong that was done to a section of people just because they belonged to a particular community.

We also need to keep in mind that at school level, not every student in India has access to the same level and quality of eduction or study material, like in the western public education system. The public education system is in shambles in India. The students also don’t have a conducive learning environment at home – no privacy (a large family sharing one room), poor hygiene, illnesses, the heat, power cuts, having to work while still in school to provide for the family. So ultimately only those who come from upper class societies who can afford private education and tutoring would continue to progress – the rich get richer, the poor remain where they are – this is how the indian society has been functioning. Which is also what the rich want, honestly.

Reservation is one of the measures that we have right now that probably can fix all the injustice that was done in the name of caste. The basic idea behind reservation itself is to remove the need for reservation – by increasing the overall education level and status of society at large by by giving equal opportunities keeping the background of the student in mind – once the economic status of a society as a whole increases, a reservation system would no longer be needed.

So, until there is at least one last candidate who would benefit out of this reservation system, it may be necessary to have this in practice.

GOVERNMENT RESPONSIBILITY

It is also the responsibility of the government to gather proper data and statistics regularly and make sure that the percentage allocation is justified and the candidates are benefited accordingly – ENSURING THERE ARE NO PEOPLE GETTING FAKE OBC CERTIFICATES or rich people with OBC caste certificates. Reservations should be for people who truly need it. This way we could someday achieve social equilibrium which we always wanted to. Although we don’t know how far that day is, it is important to keep working towards it for which reforms and updates like these are necessary.

Important note: However, it is important to also note that thousands of students would be affected by this decision and may lose out on opportunities. The problem is the country has been dysfunctional for decades resulting in injustice to the general population. Is there a day when when everyone can be happy in India with equality ? Who knows! One can dream.

Should there be reservations for NEET PG?

Personally, DON’T think there should be reservations for NEET PG. The curriculum across all the medical colleges is the same, well yes, the quality of teaching and clinical exposure varies with each college. However, once in medical school, there is a level of equilibrium amongst the students in terms of access to education. Agreed, some may have to work harder than the others because of language barrier etc. Indian higher education is in English, while public schools are in the local language. However, Students also have 5.5 years to catch up and excel in the PG entrance exam. While exiting, all students are supposed to be at the same level because they would be going on to working and saving lives on the field – Hence they should be tested uniformly, without reservations.

Reservations for NEET UG exam is justified based on socio-economic background – Not sports and other irrelevant things. Imagine when you ask “How did you get into medicine?” and you hear “Oh I was really good at badminton” – NO PLEASE!

Food for thought: Think about the upbringing you had, the school you went to, the books you had, your access to technology, having tutors, educated parents, the opportunities you and your friends had. Is it fair to test the children who live in the socio-economic statuses in the below pictures the same way without any help from the government/ society at large? (If you believe we have to achieve social equilibrium).

Do these children not deserve a fair chance and a bright future? (though in reality, a medical career is the opposite of a bright future – another topic altogether)

Photo: Hindustan Times
Photo: Unknown Source
Photo: The San Diego Union Tribune
Photo: GlobalGiving
Photo: GlobalGiving

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