The Medical Counselling Committee (MCC) lowering the qualifying percentile for the NEET-PG exam to “zero” for the third round of counselling has led to a confrontation of sorts between the state of Tamil Nadu and the Union government.
It would be prudent to recall that Tamil Nadu has long been critical of the NEET examination.
Tamil Nadu politicians weigh in
Tamil Nadu Youth Welfare Minister Udhayanidhi Stalin — son of Chief Minister and DMK chief MK Stalin — has accused the Union government of revealing its “hidden agenda” behind the national test by setting the qualifying percentile for NEET-PG 2023 at zero.
“This recent development only strengthens our party’s belief that NEET primarily benefits coaching centres and private medical colleges. It won’t be long before the Union government is compelled to address the concerns of ‘NEET injustice’, which has tragically cost the lives of many aspiring candidates,” Udhayanidhi said on X.
நீட் தேர்வில் பூஜ்ஜியம் பெர்சன்டைல் எடுத்தாலே முதுநிலை மருத்துவம் படிக்கலாம் என ஒன்றிய அரசு அறிவிப்பாணை வெளியிட்டுள்ளது, நீட் தேர்வின் சூழ்ச்சியை அம்பலமாக்கியுள்ளது.
தகுதி, தகுதி என்று சொல்லிவிட்டு, நீட் தேர்வை எழுதினாலே முதுநிலை மருத்துவம் படிக்கலாம் என்றால், அந்த தேர்வை ஏன்…
— Udhay (@Udhaystalin) September 20, 2023
Similarly, other Tamil Nadu ministers have also taken to social media to share their apprehensions regarding the zero-percentile criteria.
“The last shred of disguise of the true reasons for NEET has now been destroyed. Admission only on merit & elimination of capitation were never the intentions. Union Govt control, advantage to the privileged (who can afford coaching), and ‘authorized’ loot were the true goals,” tweeted Minister of Information Technology & Digital Services of Tamil Nadu and DMK leader Palanivel Thiagarajan.
The last shred of disguise of the true reasons for NEET has now been destroyed. Admission only on Merit & elimination of capitation were never the intentions
Union Govt control, advantage to the privileged (who can afford coaching), and “authorized” loot were the true goals https://t.co/qVUXTT3ozQ
— Dr P Thiaga Rajan (PTR) (@ptrmadurai) September 21, 2023
A day after Udhayanidhi hit out at the Centre, Stalin said the Union government had “accepted” that the benefit of NEET is zero.
On X, he said, “By reducing the NEET-PG cut-off to ‘zero’, they are accepting that ‘eligibility’ in National ‘Eligibility’ Cum Entrance Test is meaningless. It’s just about coaching centres and paying for the exam. No more qualification is required.”
He added, “NEET = 0. NEET has nothing to do with merit, which we have been saying all along. It has become a mere formality, devoid of any real eligibility criteria. The Union BJP Govt remained heartless despite so many precious lives were lost and has now come up with an order like this. The BJP Govt must be removed just for causing loss of lives with the guillotine called #NEET.”
By reducing the NEET PG cut-off to 'zero', they are accepting that 'eligibility' in National 'Eligibility' Cum Entrance Test is meaningless. It's just about coaching centres and paying for the exam. No more…
— M.K.Stalin (@mkstalin) September 21, 2023
This move raised questions among students and parents alike about the necessity of the test, especially when the Union government previously emphasised its importance for eligibility in postgraduate medical courses.
Tamilisai Soundararajan defends NEET
Telangana Governor and Puducherry Lieutenant Governor Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan, who is also a practising doctor, defended the decision of zero percentile.
She said that those who did not understand NEET could not understand the percentile system.
The percentile system calculates how many have performed less than an individual. Thus, the zero percentile doesn’t mean zero marks.
Those who don't understand #NEET can't understand percentile system. Percentile system calculates how many have performed less than an individual. #ZeroPercentile doesn't mean #zero marks. It is an insult to graduates who passed MBBS @PMOIndia @mansukhmandviya
— Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan (@DrTamilisaiGuv) September 21, 2023
“It is crucial to clarify the misconception surrounding the recent announcement by the central government regarding a ‘zero’ percentile requirement for NEET for admission to medical courses. First and foremost, it’s essential to understand that scoring zero percentile in NEET does not guarantee admission to medical colleges. Those who criticise the government’s decision may not fully comprehend how NEET operates,” she said on X.
She added that in reality, achieving a zero percentile in NEET did not secure a person a place in a medical course.
To enrol in a medical programme in India, one must attain the minimum passing marks in the NEET examination.
“However, it’s important to note that not all NEET-qualified candidates are guaranteed admission to medical colleges. Admission decisions also consider factors such as the number of available seats and competition,” she explained.
Candidates who score the highest marks in the NEET examination for medical courses are given priority during the admission process.
“The Central government has introduced this system to ensure that vacant seats are filled by students who have achieved the minimum passing marks after all available seats have been allocated to higher-scoring candidates,” she said.
மருத்துவ முதுநிலை படிப்புகளில் சேர்வதற்கான நீட் தேர்வில் “பூஜ்ஜியம்” மதிப்பெண்கள் எடுத்திருந்தாலும் அவர்களுக்கு கல்லூரியில் சேர இடம் வழங்கப்படும் என மத்திய அரசு அறிவித்துள்ளதை போல தவறாக விமர்சிப்பவர்களுக்கு நீட் தேர்வு கட் ஆப் மதிப்பெண், பூஜ்ஜியம் பர்சன்டைல் என்றால் என்ன? என்பதை…
— Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan (@DrTamilisaiGuv) September 21, 2023
The purpose of this approach is to utilise vacant seats effectively and provide opportunities to students who did not meet the cut-off marks but still passed the NEET examination, she said.
“It is crucial to have a clear understanding of this process. Those who score zero marks in NEET will not be admitted to medical courses; the system aims to allocate vacant seats to candidates who have achieved the minimum passing marks,” she clarified.
She added that critics should take the time to comprehend this system properly before spreading misinformation. Misunderstandings can create confusion among the public and students, leading to incorrect ideas and perceptions. It is important to address this issue with accurate information and dispel any misconceptions, she said.
Lowering the cut-off percentile
The Medical Counselling Committee (MCC) has lowered the qualifying percentile for the NEET-PG exam to zero. This change applies to all categories, as confirmed by an official notification by the committee.
“It is for the information of candidates that the qualifying percentile for PG courses (Medical/Dental) for NEET-PG Counselling 2023 has been reduced to ‘ZERO’ across all categories by MoHFW (Ministry of Health and Family Welfare),” the notification read.
As a result of this decision, fresh registration and choice submission for the third round of PG Counselling will be reopened for eligible candidates. This revision in the qualifying percentile now allows medical aspirants, who previously didn’t meet the cut-off, to register for the postgraduate exam. Those who already registered can also edit their choices.
A fresh schedule for Round-3 onwards for PG Counselling will be put up on the MCC website soon.
(With PTI inputs)