Thursday, February 2, 2017

Is NEET the only yardstick to rank candidates?

Guest article written by Dr. Shrikanth, Vellore.
Fellow citizens,

Let us not become emotional about self-proclaimed opinions regarding better or poorer standards in the state board or central board schools, state-level entrance exams versus national-level entrance exams (NEET), English medium education versus regional languages, city versus town, town versus rural, ..

We are now facing the issue of how to select candidates for medical curriculum. Because the eligible candidates, by nature and law, are from different boards, different medium of instruction, different states and different socio-economic backgrounds,it becomes necessary to have a common yardstick to merit rank among them for further selection.

Common yardstick to merit rank

There are two well-known and recognized methods for this purpose. Leave alone the personal interview methods to assess and measure the merit cum attitude/aptitude. They are:
  1. Objective type of entrance exams - erstwhile CETs of different states, institutions or national level exams like JEE or NEET, etc.
  2. Equally popular method internationally for college admissions, if not so popular in India - is "test equating by statistical normalization" of different examinations of various qualifying boards.
Both the methods have their advantages and disadvantages from various perspectives. Former method of ENTRANCE EXAMINATION by objective type is simple in application and less biased. But the second method requires a lot of standardized administrative infrastructure, from syllabus to final mark scoring of qualifying examinations.

Obviously this latter method assumes good and unbiased law and order for effective evaluation by vastly differing agencies-which is quite difficult in today's India. Only state government which entirely follows the second method has been Tamil Nadu. In fact, even the national selection for IITs and NITs follows statistical normalization at least partially at preliminary screening.

But what is really lacking in Tamil Nadu is that the method of calculation and it's underlying principle for the purpose of "test equating by statistical normalization", which is legally stipulated in sub-clause 5(i) of the ACT 3 of 2007 of Tamil Nadu, is unfortunately absolutely wrong, arbitrary, unfair, unscientific and unconstitutional.

It was negligently adopted from BITS, Pilani by Dr. Ananthakrishnan committee in 2006 which was reportedly constituted to abolish CET in Tamil Nadu. The wrong method for "equating by normalization" had been quashed as unfair, exploitative and unconstitutional by at least three high courts in different states. But, the President inadvertently assented to this ACT in spite of serious and conscious objection by Ministry of Health, Government of India.

Even in 2016, government of Tamil Nadu did not adhere to the ACT for NEET 2016. Though the 2016 ordinance & ACT of union exempted only those which conducted their own Common entrance examinations for 2016, the government of Tamil Nadu did not conduct any state level entrance examination for evaluating inter-se merit ranking. The selection process of 2016 was illegal in Tamil Nadu.

Unless this wrong method (sub-clause 5(i) of the ACT) is repealed and replaced by statistical method like equi-percentile method, this ACT in Tamil Nadu could not stand against IMC ACT, amended for NEET. So,any attempt to oppose NEET 2017 by Tamil Nadu without amending this existing unconstitutional method of normalization will be utterly ridiculous and liable for quashing by honourable courts.

Thanks Dr. Shrikanth for your valuable article. To understand Dr. Shrikanth's article fully, please read my earlier article on Do you think CBSE students are incompetent to join Tamil Nadu Medical Colleges?