Sunday, July 21, 2024

NEET, UGC-NET 2024 row: ‘Millions of dreams…,’ ABVP, other RSS affiliates express unease over NTA role

The Union Education Ministry on June 19 cancelled the University Grants Commission–National Eligibility Test (NET) after concerns were raised about the exam’s integrity.  The UGC-NET 2024 was conducted on June 18 across 317 cities. 

Also Read: NEET, UGC-NET 2024 row: 10 year jail term, 1 Cr fine as punishments in new ‘anti-paper leak’ law. Full details here

The cancellation of UGC-NET came amid ongoing controversy over alleged irregularities in the medical entrance exam – NEET. Both exams are conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA). The police in Bihar and Gujarat are investigating the alleged leak of the NEET-UG 2024 question paper.

ABVP national general secretary Yagywalkya Shukla has raised questions over the credibility of NTA. “There is a perception of mismanagement by NTA. How is it that question papers are reaching 15-20 minutes late in certain centres? How is it that 7-8 students from the same centre get 100% marks? How did 67 students get 720 marks? There is a question mark on NTA’s credibility. When people ask questions, the government must answer,” Shukla told The Indian Express. 

ABVP, the student’s Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), has been part of the protests over NEET controversy. 

Also Read: NEET-UG, UGC-NET row: High-level committee being formed, guilty won’t be spared, says minister Dharmendra Pradhan

Shukla wondered if something wrong happened when the national leadership (of the BJP) had its attention elsewhere (Lok Sabha 2024 elections). “ABVP demands that the entire episode should be investigated by the CBI. The role of NTA should be probed. The process of grace marks should be reviewed,” he said.

A delegation of ABVP has met Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan with its set of demands.

On June 20, the Union government announced the formation of a high-level committee to provide recommendations for enhancing the structure, processes, data management, and security protocols of the NTA. The committee will comprise technocrats, scientists, educational administrators, academics, and psychologists.

Addressing a press conference, Pradhan said that the government, while taking the responsibility of the ‘isolated’ incidents, was committed to refining the system. However, Pradhan clarified that the government has not yet decided to cancel NEET-UG 2024, unlike the UGC-NET exam, which determines the eligibility for teaching jobs in universities and colleges.

Also Read: NEET-UG 2024 row: Supreme Court seeks responses from Centre, NTA on paper leak allegations

The ABVP general secretary told The Indian Express that the student’s body had raised questions over the grace marks issue on June 6 and declared a nationwide agitation on June 8. “The government must work towards ensuring transparency in examinations so that trust of students in the system is retained. Millions of dreams, of both students and parents, are associated with these exams,” he said.

BJP MPs, including Rakesh Sinha, have also spoken on the issue. Sinha, a Rajya Sabha MP, has called for “criminalisation of any nexus between paper setters and coaching institutes.”

Apart from the ABVP, educational organisations ideologically close to the ruling BJP have also expressed unease over the examinations fiasco. 

Also Read: UGC NET 2024 cancelled: When will fresh exam take place? NTA shares BIG update

The Shiksha Bachao Andolan has demanded cancellation of the NEET-UG 2024, discontinuation of the ongoing counselling process, and a CBI inquiry into the irregularities. The Andolan was founded in 2004 by long-time RSS activists Dinanath Batra and Atul Kothari aimed at promoting ‘Bharat’s traditional concept of education.’ 

The Shiksha Sanskriti Utthan Nyas, another RSS affiliate formed in 2007, has also questioned the functioning of the NTA, formed in 2017 by the Centre for conducting the examinations.

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Published: 21 Jun 2024, 10:17 AM IST

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