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There is a protest in Patel Park, Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh [UP], India on the 22nd April 2013. It is on the eve of the Supreme Court Hearing in the NEET case [ Case No , Court 1].
The story behind the protest describes the tough six month battle for justice. The brave young doctors in the area have been attempting to challenge the government's illogical decision. It was announced that the Post Graduate Medical Entrance Exam [UPPGMEE] 2013 would not be cancelled despite the introduction of the National Entrance and Eligibility Test [NEET]. Hundreds of students have demanded its cancellation as they had already taken the [NEET]. "The order of the apex court will be valid for the entire country. So, why does UP want to become an exception by holding this exam," questioned one student. Quite rightly too.
It is interesting to look into the motivation for UP to continue this exam. This state isn't without its controversy.
The case in UP should be seen in context of the plight of 90,000 doctors as summarised in the Huffington Post recently. While UP prefers to present an innocent face to the public, the skeletons in their closet keep falling out at such a rate that their nefarious motives become obvious to the naked eye.
Many will recall the sting operation conducted by CNN-IBN describing the level of corruption occurring in medical education. Most of the colleges exposed were based in UP. The private colleges caught on camera are Santosh Medical College in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh; People’s Medical College in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh; ITS Dental College at Muradnagar in Ghaziabad, UP; Subharti Medical College in Meerut, UP; and Maharishi Markandeshwar University at Mullana in Ambala, Haryana. The entire sting operation can be viewed here. As the NEET [National Eligibility Test] was rolled out initially to prevent this kind of corruption, it is not surprising that we find the UP decided to stick to its old ways. After-all, why would the leading powers let go of the golden goose?
The battle outlined here demonstrates a reluctant state with numerous fat cats fearful of the loss of their golden goose. Of course, these power-hungry bureaucrats will do “anything” to protect their gold. And indeed, as these brave students demonstrate, all their efforts to seek justice have been in vain. Their previous protests were met with police brutality and disgraceful treatment. They have essentially felt the wrath of the establishment. These are rich powerful arrogant people who believe that they have the right to trample over the rights of young doctors. Of course, these students are not going away without a fight. They may have faced hardship but their spirit appears to be strong.
So the chronology of evolving matters in this state sees the NEET exam being successfully held between the 23rd – 6th December 2012.. Then followed the infamous order by the Supreme Court on the 13th December 2012 allowing some states to conduct their own state-side exams. Between the 13th December 2012 and the 12th February the UP government was wholly lethargic in its decision making. Having been tight lipped for nearly two months, they announced that the UPPGMEE would be carried out. The logic of the UP government appeared absent if not seriously flawed. Why on earth would any government body insist that their students duplicate their exam efforts?
The UP students have bravely sought answers to their questions from all bodies. They have attempted to protest peacefully to raise their points. Sadly, leaders in the UP government has suffered sudden case of selective stone deafness. They approached the Director of Medical Education who implied that they were facing a lot of pressure from private medical colleges to conduct exams. Apparently whatever the circumstances 5-10 seats are filled through the back-door.
The Chief Secretary of Medical Education crowed “ if you get the seats filled through NEET, all the seats of U.P. will be occupied by students from South India” and the Vice Chancellor quipped “the students of U.P. are weak in English and they can not understand the question paper of NEET. That’s why UPPGMEE is necessary”. Of course, all this was hot air floating around the UP in the hope someone would believe them. These shocking statements from officialdom did not go far in instilling confidence in anyone. In their letter to the Prime Minister of India, the students wrote
“After all these talks, we were left with no options but to protest. We staged a rally, and finally 16 of our friends sat on an indefinite hunger strike in Lucknow. Instead of listening to our demands, the chief minister handed over all this matter to the District magistrate of Lucknow. He bluntly refused to listen to any of our pleas and finally got us arrested after 6 days of our fast unto death. He threatened us to drawback or else our careers would be at stake as he had all the powers granted by the C.M. to impose any allegation on us. We had to do so”
They continued to write
“Then we moved to the high court where our matter was allowed to be taken to the Supreme Court without giving any decision, as the decision may contradict with that of the Supreme Court’s. We talked to many lawyers from the Supreme Court but the amount of fees they charge was impossible for students like us to collect”
It appears that these students have approached everyone. They have sent letters to the President of India, the Governor of UP, the Medical Council of India and the Minister of Health. They have petition of 2500 signatures against the UPPGMEE 2013. In a state where money talks and justice is lite, it is clear that there was a motive in keeping these students silenced. They appear to have trampled over a hornet's nest and are facing the wrath of the state for having the temerity to challenge authority.
After all, according to those who wish to hang on to their golden goose, it would be a complete disaster if they lost their rather lucrative money making schemes that have been making them richer, fatter and ever more corrupt. After-all, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Of course, there is one fly in their ointment, the minor issue of a group of very brave idealistic students who continue fearless despite facing hardship for so many months. As officialdom sit on its golden goose and wrongly believe they can victimise, censor, silence and abuse young people, they should remember that one sting operation has rattled the skeletons in their closet, it is only a matter of time before they all fall out for the world to see.
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