Senior health department officials from the state will hold a meeting with their counterparts in the Union Health Ministry and the Medical Council of India (MCI) on Friday to discuss various issues relating to the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET).
Hundreds of members of All India Democratic Students Organisation (AIDSO) on Thursday staged demonstrations in front of Swasthya Bhavan, demanding state-level medical entrance examinations. A scuffle broke out between the demonstrators and the police when the latter tried to control the situation. AIDSO representatives submitted a memorandum to the Director of Medical Education, urging him to take some steps so that the state can hold its own entrance examination.
A three judge Bench of the Supreme Court (SC) had ruled that the NEET should be implemented from this year and all state-level entrance examinations should be scrapped.
The Apex Court had ordered that the NEET would be held in two phases. As per its order, the NEET phase I was held on May 1 with AIPMT, while the NEET phase II is scheduled to take place on July 24.
However, thousands of medical aspirants in the state had expressed their dissatisfaction over the Apex Court’s order, claiming that Apex Court it did not consider their sentiments. They said that they were disappointed as things turned against them.
It is very difficult for medical aspirants in the state to compete in the national level examination with only two months to prepare and with a completely new syllabus. The NEET syllabus is very different from that of West Bengal Joint Entrance Examinations. NEET syllabus mainly focuses on Botany and Zoology, while the state entrance syllabus lays emphasis on physiology.
Various states including, West Bengal, had appealed in the SC asking it to allow state-level entrance
examinations only for this year; otherwise the medical aspirants in West Bengal would face difficulties. The Apex Court however turned down their pleas and ruled that NEET should be implemented from this year.
Senior health department officials in the state are still in dilemma about the next course of action. It is to be seen whether they will move the five-judge Bench to challenge the earlier decision or allow the NEET to happen. As it was prescheduled, the state will conduct the West Bengal Joint Entrance Examinations on May 17, in which students appearing for B. Pharm will have to sit in the examinations.
Neither the West Bengal Joint Entrance Board nor the state health department though has clearly issued any notice barring medical aspirants in the state from the entrance examinations.
Many other states like Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka have held their individual entrance examinations even after the SC ruled to implement NEET. Some have raised questions as to why the West Bengal government is not holding its own examination like the other states for the benefit of the candidates.
It was learnt that some senior officials may appeal to the Centre and MCI to include Bengali as the medium of the examination in the NEET phase II.
But this could further put the medical aspirants in the state in trouble because if a student answers the question paper in Bengali he/she would compete only for the state seats and not for the national level seats or institutions.
Experts said that answering in Bengali is more difficult as the students are more acquainted with the English terminology.