This Article is From Oct 19, 2020

"Indian Doctors' Covid Fight Inspires Me": NEET Topper Soyeb Aftab To NDTV

The NEET exam wasn't held till the Supreme Court said "ultimately life has to go on and the careers of students cannot be put on peril" that it was conducted

Soyeb Aftab (from Odisha) secured first rank in NEET 2020 with a perfect score of 720

New Delhi:

Indian doctors' response to the Covid pandemic has been "exceptional", Soyeb Aftab - the young man who topped the NEET - held last month despite protests from a section of students over the virus spreading even further - with a perfect score of 720, told NDTV on Monday.

Mr Aftab, who has made the headlines as much for his remarkable score as for his decision to brave the virus and stay put at a coaching centre in Rajasthan's Kota - at a time when thousands of fellow NEET candidates were being ferried to their home states in special buses - said he had been inspired by the dedication of medical professionals across the country.

"I think the response of Indian doctors to the pandemic has been exceptional. I really want to become like them... they are an inspiration. The way they have handled the pandemic... I think India has outperformed many developed countries," Mr Aftab, who hails from Odisha, said.

Mr Aftab wasn't the only NEET aspirant to be spurred on by doctors' fight against the coronavirus.

Satwik Godara from Haryana (who secured the seventh rank), told NDTV his inspiration was closer home - both his parents are doctors and are involved in treating Covid patients.

"I was inspired by my parents, who are doctors, as I saw them go out on duty and help people amid the pandemic. It was a great achievement and I was very motivated by that. I studied hard, focused on my fundamentals and am very happy with the result," he said.

The NEET exams were very nearly not held this year amid concerns over the Covid pandemic. It wasn't till the Supreme Court said "ultimately life has to go on and the careers of students cannot be put on peril" that it was conducted.

According to the National Testing Agency (NTA), which conducts competitive exams in the country, over 16 lakh students had registered for NEET 2020, many of whom spent large sums of money and long months at training centres away from home in the hopes of cracking the exam.

Karthik Reddy from Karnataka was not one of those students. Nevertheless, he secured the ninth rank and told NDTV he wanted students from towns and villages to know that success was not meant only for big city kids.

"It doesn't matter where you come from. Only hard work matters. Students think coaching is necessary but I studied at my hometown and my college supported me... my teachers inspired me and I am very happy with my performance," Mr Reddy, who comes from a small town in north-east Karnataka, said.

All three - Mr Aftab, Mr Reddy and Mr Godara - said they studied for over 10 hours a day - a gruelling regimen punctuated by gaming (for Mr Aftab) and outdoor exercise (for Mr Reddy and Mr Godara) as relief.

All three also faced and overcame significant challenges en route to this success - not the least of which was the coronavirus - and all three offered words of encouragement to those looking to follow in their footsteps.

"... don't lose heart. Focus on your goals. Face obstacles and challenges bravely and use them to your advantage," Mr Aftab said.