Lakhs of aspirants who have cleared the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test, Post Graduate (NEET PG) 2021 are awaiting their counselling and thus college admissions to begin. The delay in the counselling subsequently has caused a delay in medical college admissions. This is affecting not just this years’ NEET PG aspirants but has also left the resident doctors in most government hospitals “burnt-out”.
Resident doctors are on a nationwide strike and have withdrawn from attending out patient department (OPD) services demanding immediate action on the NEET PG counselling. Delay has been caused as the Supreme Court is examining the validity of putting Rs 8 lakh as a limit to avail of reservation under the EWS quota. The government has sought time till January to reexamine the validity of the EWS income limit.
Till the court comes to a decision, the NEET PG counselling 2021 has been put on hold and admissions to the 50 per cent of seats that are allotted under the All India Quota (AIQ) seats have been postponed.
Counselling Delay Overburdened Resident Doctors
This delay has overburdened the resident doctors who have been at the frontline in the fight against Covid-19.
Speaking to News18, a final year doctor, on condition of anonymity said, “First-years resident doctors are the backbone in most medical colleges. This year due to the delay in admission the first-year PG students have not yet joined while the third-year students have already passed out. This has left the remaining resident doctors overworked, burdened and stressed. The condition in government hospitals is anyway grim with a bad patient-doctor ratio. The additional shortage of first-year doctors has made the matter worse.”
In the last few months, many doctors have also taken to social media platforms, expressing their disappointments regarding the counselling dates being postponed time and over again. They have taken to Twitter with the hashtag #ExpediteNeetPGCounselling2021 and called for an “immediate decision” to fix the dates.
Frustrated over the delay in counselling, 30-year-old, NEET PG aspirants Priya Gupta said, “The year is gone to waste. First, there was a delay in exams and now there is a massive delay in counselling. Every day I check news portals hoping that there will become an update and the counselling will begin, but there seems to be no resolution to the problem. This is making me anxious and more stressed out about my career.”
Earlier this month, the Federation of All India Medical Association (FAIMA) had also written to the Chief Justice of India to expedite NEET PG counselling 2021 process. In its letter, the doctors’ association said that NEET PG 2021 was supposed to be conducted in April 2021 but held five months later, in September 2021 finally. As a result of this delay, NEET PG aspirants have wasted nearly a year and the junior residents are facing burn-out.
What is the EWS quota plea?
In 2019, the 10 per cent EWS quota was introduced under the 103rd Constitution (Amendment) Act, 2019 by amending Articles 15 and 16. Following this on July 29, the Centre decided to provide 27 per cent reservation for OBCs and 10 per cent reservation for Economically Weaker Section (EWS) in the All India Quota (AIQ) for undergraduate and postgraduate medical and dental courses.
Challenging the move, many filled pleas in the SC. Hearing the plea, the SC court on October 21 had asked the Centre whether it wanted to revisit the Rs 8 lakhs per annum limit set for determining whether a person can apply for the EWS reservation quota for NEET. The top court had asked the Centre to explain what exercise was undertaken by it to fix annual income eligibility of Rs 8 lakh for the EWS category.
In its response, the Centre had then said that fixing a limit of Rs 8 lakh annual income for the EWS category was a matter of policy based on the National Cost of Living Index. Now, Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta told Supreme Court that the government will formulate a committee and take a fresh decision within four weeks. Till then the counselling is delayed. Resident doctors can expect the counselling to be delayed till January.