What are the protests regarding entry tests in India about?

Medical aptitude exam 'NEET' saw 2.4m candidates vying for 100,000 spots, sparking protests and allegations in India

News Desk June 21, 2024
Students in Delhi protesting against alleged question paper leaks in the NEET medical exam

A major medical entrance exam in India has sparked widespread outrage, protests, and allegations of cheating after an unusually high number of candidates scored top marks this year.

The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (Undergraduate), or NEET-UG exam is essential for gaining admission to medical colleges across the country. It is administered by the National Testing Agency (NTA), a government body responsible for some of India's most significant examinations.

Each year, millions of students sit for NEET, but only a small fraction secure the high marks needed for college placement. This year, however, the problem was exacerbated by an unexpected surge in top scores, which disrupted the ranking system and made it challenging even for high-achieving students to secure spots.

This year the test saw over 2.4 million candidates competing for 100,000 spots. The results showed 67 students scoring a perfect 720 marks, a significant increase from previous years.

This spike in top scores, along with arrests related to alleged paper leaks and cheating scandals, has raised suspicions about the exam's fairness.

The NEET results showed not only a rise in perfect scores but also an unusual number of students scoring in the high range of 650-680 marks.

This disparity has led to accusations of paper leaks and the unfair awarding of grace marks.

The NTA defended the high scores by attributing them to a larger candidate pool and the provision of grace marks for students who faced issues during the exam.

Since the announcement of results on June 4, the exam has come under intense scrutiny due to alleged errors in the question papers, improper awarding of grace marks, and claims of paper leaks and fraud. In response, students and parents have called for a re-examination and have filed numerous petitions in courts to demand justice.

On June 19, the Indian government cancelled the National Eligibility Test (NET) for public-funded research fellowships following reports of question leaks on the darknet. Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan acknowledged the leaks but did not specify how the breaches occurred.

He assured that a reform committee would be established to address the issue, emphasizing the government's commitment to transparency and student welfare.

Opposition leaders and legal experts have criticized the government’s handling of the situation. They argue that the NTA has failed in its mandate to conduct secure and fair examinations.

Critics point to the broader issue of systemic corruption within India’s examination system, which jeopardizes the careers of millions of students.

The Supreme Court has intervened, cancelling the grace marks awarded and ordering a re-test for 1,563 students. Despite this, many students and protestors believe the court's ruling does not address the root problems of paper leaks and systemic corruption.


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