New Delhi: The government’s decision to conduct the All India National Eligibility cum Entrance Test(NEET) in six regional languages apart from English and Hindi is creating ripples in Karnataka, Kerala and Odisha.
Presenting the argument that students who have studied in Kannada, Malayalam and Odia would inconvenienced, two of the three states have gone as far as knocking Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and the Health Ministry’s door asking for the exam to be conducted in their respective languages. The Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said that his government had written to the Centre stating that NEET exams should be held in Kannada also.
While, Opposition leaders in the Kerala Assembly are toying with the idea of having the government approach the centre on inclusion of Malyalam, as one of the languages for NEET. Ramesh Chennithala, a Congress leader in the opposition, today accused the Centre of “discriminating” against Malayalam. He has urged the CPI(M)-led LDF government in the state to “urgently” take up the matter with the union government. “It is unfair. It is an injustice to the people of Kerala,” Chennithala told reporters in reply to Malyalam not being included as one of the languages for NEET.
The Odisha Chief Minister, Naveen Patnaik defining it as a “ language bias” has sought the Prime Minister’s intervention in the matter, so that Odia as a medium of instruction for NEET may be introduced.
However, the fact remains that both Karnataka and Odisha earlier, had preferred English to be their choice of language.The Health Ministry might be in for a surprise, as at the discussion level, earlier on languages to be included for the National Eligibility Test(NEET),the states of Karnataka and Odisha had not come forward with the demand of introducing their respective regional languages for the admission test.
The Health Ministry says that the decision to shortlist these six regional languages was taken in consultation with the states; more specifically, Karnataka and Odisha. “Wider consultations, tale-conferences took place before we finally decided on these languages. Both these states never expressed their concern, and in fact they have never conducted medical examinations in their language. Both on record said that they don’t have any issue with “English” as their choice of language. But suddenly, the language politics has come to the fore,” said an official.
The Health Ministry has nevertheless asked the CBSE to consider the demands of Karnataka and Odisha. The exam is to be held in April May next year, and in two phases, as per the Supreme Court directive.
“The problem is that the CBSE doesn’t have lexicons of these languages to reflect the English meaning. Unless the glossary of terms is available, the exam can’t be conducted in these regional languages. Anyhow, we have written to the CBSE. Let’s see what they say,” added an official.”
The BJP and the BJD have another explanation to offer on why Odia was not included as one of the medium of languages for NEET. They believe that even if the centre included Odia as one of the languages for NEET, there won’t be many takers.
“Generally, there are a few students taking Plus II science exam in Odia though the number of examine es in arts streams is substantial,” said Basudev Chhatoi, Chairman, Council of Higher Secondary Education, which conducts the Plus II examination. Another reason cited for science students not opting for Odia as a medium given is that all the text books for the Plus 11 Science are in English.
“In the current circumstances, opting for Odia medium in an examination in science stream may be a severe constraint to a student,” said R N Panda, Former Principal, BJB Junior College, who currently heads a private Plus II college. “Students appearing for medical entrance in Odia medium may not find any book,” he added.
The Directorate of Medical Education and Training on Friday revealed that the Centre had not consulted it on introduction of regional languages in NEET. “We had got a check-list for a video conferencing on November 28, with the Union health ministry. We had suggested that the examination should be held in English like the existing practice. There was no discussion on conducting the test in regional languages,” said Umakant Satpathy, Joint Director, Medical Education and Training.
At present the six different vernacular languages in which the medical admission exam is to be conducted include: Gujarati, Bengali, Assamese, Tamil, Marathi and Telugu, other than Hindi and English.