Amid the probe into the growing scandal involving proxies taking the medical entrance exams in Tamil Nadu, the Madras High Court on Thursday said that the thumb impressions of 4,250 students who were admitted to various medical courses this year in the state should be handed over to investigators. Experts, however, say the system has many other inbuilt loopholes that kill transparency and facilitate corrupt practices.
Many point out that since 2014, National Eligibility cum Entrance Test or NEET does not rank students at the state level, according to the reservation category. It gives only all-India level ranks though 85 percent of seats are under the state quota, leaving room for malpractices and manipulation by states which prepare their own rank list.
This leads to lack of clarity among the students about their chances and sets panic among the medical aspirants in the state, experts say. They say the system also favours private medical colleges often owned by politicians and that many students are exploited as they frantically block seats.
"As a student who appears for an exam I would want to know where I stand in the national level, where I stand in state level, how many scored higher than me, whether I would get seat in Tamil Nadu if the national level and state level ranks are given fairly by NEET or any other agency. If the government is not giving, it is hiding the information for some other purpose," said Nedunchezhian D, founder and CEO of India College Finder.
At the all-India level too, deemed universities, many allege, manipulate the counselling system by fielding candidates who would reject seats offered to them under the government quota so that those seats could be surrendered. These seats, they allege, could then be sold for upto Rs. Two crore each.
"Government-based counselling should be extended till the last seat. Now the last mop up counselling is given to the deemed universities. Though candidates pay Rs. 2 lakh under this category, many are made to reject the seats and these universities can sell these seats. There are separate agents working throughout the country, it's a big nexus," said Dr Shanthi Ravindranath, Secretary, Doctors for Social Equality.
The Madras High Court said that the scam could be taking place in other parts of the country too, after six people, including four students, were arrested for allegedly hiring proxies to crack the entrance exam by paying impersonators up to Rs. 25 lakh.
The case has sparked worry parents and medical aspirants. Jameela Sajeev, whose daughter is preparing for NEET is worried. "It is very disheartening and demotivating. The children tend to lose their confidence because they put in so much of hard work," she said.
S Prashanth, a third-year MBBS student, said, "If this be the case, the future of the healthcare system itself would turn bleak. Only a doctor is regarded as God and people wouldn't mind us anymore."
"Society considers this profession as next to God and getting into this field by crook is not acceptable, particularly when many slog for two to three years," CP Prajeeth, another student, said.