Over 500 students missed their National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) exam in Karnataka on May 5 due to a 7-hour train delay and changes in the exam centres which they were unaware of. The 16591 Hampi Express which was expected to reach Bangalore at 7 AM reached the city stations only at 2:30 PM, one hour after the reporting time for the NEET exam which was at 1:30 PM. The train had students from Hubballi, Ballari, Hospet districts who relied on the overnight Hampi Express to reach Bangalore ahead of their examinations.
Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Prakash Javadekar tweeted last evening that the students would now get another opportunity to write the pan-India pre-medical test NEET. According to PTI, the minister said the exam for Karnataka students would be conducted on May 20th. This would be alongside Odisha students whose exam dates were also postponed due to the havoc wreaked by cyclonic storm FANI in the state.
Happy to announce that #Karnataka Students who missed #NEET exam , due to railway delay will get another chance.@MoHFW_INDIA @HRDMinistry @PIB_India @MIB_India @DG_NTA @cbseindia29 @ciet_ncert @DDNewsLive @airnewsalerts @DVSBJP@CMofKarnataka
— Chowkidar Prakash Javadekar (@PrakashJavdekar) May 6, 2019
The Train Delay
The delay of the 16591 Hampi Express which operates between Hubballi to Mysuru by over 7 hours, was attributed to the 120 KM longer diversion it took from its normal route and an engine reversal that happened en route to Bellary.
A Railway Public Relations Officer reportedly told PTI, “For the past one week the Hampi Express is running on a diverted route. There are no timings for the diverted route. Earlier the scheduled time of reaching Bengaluru was 7 am.”
But that was not the only reason for the delay.
The train’s departure from Hubbali itself was also re-scheduled by 2 hours on May 4. This, however, according to official statements was conveyed to the passengers. “All the reserved passengers of train have been given intimation by SMS of the diversion and rescheduling on the mobile numbers given at the time of reserving tickets,” (sic)
The Exam Center Change
The train delay, however, was just one of two unfortunate reasons that students were running pillar to post across the city on Sunday. The examination centres were changed and many students learnt that their new centres were 30-40 km away only after they reached the venue. Many students and parents claimed they weren’t informed in advance.
A parent, N Vijay Kumar who spoke to India Today exclaimed, “Is it humanly possible to cross the Bengaluru traffic and reach the exam center 50 km away?”
TLI spoke to a student who wrote the NEET this year and she had a different story to tell. The student (who wishes to remain anonymous) revealed that she got an email three days prior to the test and a call from NTA a day before the exam about the change of the exam centre.
She also added that not many were aware of this change, “Some of the students didn’t know the centre was changed and went all the way to Yelahanka, however, people were still allowed to enter the exam hall till 1:45 ”
“I Don’t Know What I Will Tell My Parents. They Were So Hopeful”
The students who were delayed by the Train expressed they anguish over Social Media. Jyothi Samantri who got stuck in Bellary took to Facebook to express her anxiety.
The twitter-verse too saw students expressing their anguish online. This is Sai Srinivas’s tweet as reported by News18 said,“@PrakashJavdekar sir we the students who are appearing for neet 2019 from Ballari and Hubli cities to Bengaluru train number 16591 name Hampi Express. This train has to reach Bengaluru city at 7 AM still we are in Arsikere (180km ) far away from Bengaluru. (sic),”
Just like Sai, another student named Shashidhar was also distraught. The 18-year-old is a student from Gangavathi in Koppal district. Shashidhar’s father runs a tea stall in Gangavathi.
Speaking to The News Minute he said, “My father was scared that I would miss the train and be late. There were so many students in the train with us. Some got off at Arasikere and some at Tumakuru and they began booking cabs or had someone pick them up. I did not have enough money to spend on a cab as it would have cost me around Rs 3,000. By the time I reached it was 2.25 pm and Devamata Central School in Vidyaranyapura said it was too late. They did not let me in. I don’t know what I will tell my parents. They were so hopeful,” he said.
The students’ dismay over the exam comes at a time when several student bodies and political parties have demanded the scrapping of NEET. Reports say that in Tamil Nadu, Congress with its ally Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) channelled the Anti-NEET sentiments against Modi in their political campaigns for the ongoing Lok Sabha elections. Back in 2016, Tamil Nadu was a part of the list of the states that opposed the holding of NEET. The other states on the list include Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh along with several other private institutions.
The Chief Minister of Karnataka H D Kumaraswamy tweeted early on 5th May requesting the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the HRD minister Prakash Javadekar and the Railway Minister Piyush Goyal to intervene and ensure that the students who missed the opportunity be given another chance to write the exam.
I request PM @narendramodi, Rail Minister @PiyushGoyal, @HRDMinistry , @PrakashJavdekar
to intervene and ensure that students who have missed the opportunity today get another chance to write the #NEET2019 Exam
— CM of Karnataka (@CMofKarnataka) May 5, 2019
The former Chief Minister of Karnataka Siddaramaiah, however, saw this as a chance to take a dig at the Prime Minister instead.
You pat your own back for others' achievements but will you also take the responsibility for your cabinet min' incapabilities.
Hundreds of students in Karnataka may not be able to take up NEET because of delay in the train services.
— Siddaramaiah (@siddaramaiah) May 5, 2019
The South Western Railways according to a tweet by ANI also said that they will write to the Ministry of HRD for a re-examination for students who were affected by the Hampi Express Delay.
South Western Railway PRO: We will write to Ministry of HRD to re-conduct the NEET exam for students, who were travelling in the Hampi Express and missed their exam due to a delay in train reaching the destination.
— ANI (@ANI) May 5, 2019
The NEET Debate
The NEET is the annual Pre-Medical test conducted across the country on the same day for MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) and BDS (Bachelor of Dental Surgery) aspirants. In January 2018, the CBSE accepted the Supreme Court’s order and informed that only one question paper would be set for the NEET exam from 2018.
The Apex court had termed the practice of multiple question papers in different languages as “illogical” and said that it would be “very difficult” to evaluate the competence of students when their questions are different.
But this year an exception has already been made for Odisha and this has sparked a row among doctors in West Bengal.
Owing to the wreckage by the cyclonic storm FANI on the Odisha coast on May 3rd, the NEET exams have been deferred in the state.
Doctors in West Bengal whose state was also in the trajectory of the cyclone were apprehensive about the cyclone damage in their state and wrote to the Union HRD Minister and the state’s Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee.
Dr. Maity who spoke to the millenium post said, ” A nationwide examination like NEET cannot be conducted in two separate question papers as per the order of the Supreme Court. Various states like Andhra Pradesh, Telangana were affected alongside Bengal and Odisha and we therefore urged the Union HRD Minister to postpone the examination across the country” (sic)
The cyclone, however, did not cause as much damage as predicted in West Bengal, as it had weakened after hitting Odisha coast.
The Logical Indian Take
The NEET exam this year alone has over 13 lakh students writing the test from all over the country. Even Medical colleges (except AIIMSs and JIPMER) accept NEET scores for counselling in both all India and state level medical admissions. Recently, the Medical Council of Indian (MCI) has also made NEET as a mandatory requirement for taking admissions in foreign medical colleges.
The Logical Indian applauds the HRD ministry for considering the plea of the students and authorities and wishes the students the best of luck!
Also Read: NEET Centres For Tamil Nadu Applicants Allotted In Different States, Students Face Troubles
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