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India’s Exam Chief Dismissed Amid Uproar Over NEET Irregularities

The head of India's National Testing Agency (NTA), Subodh Kumar Singh, has been dismissed following allegations of irregularities in recent higher education exams.

 

The government has also established a committee to recommend reforms in the competitive examination process.

The controversy centers around the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET), a crucial medical entrance exam. Calls to rerun the test arose after thousands of candidates received unusually high marks, leading to protests over alleged cheating. NEET is the primary pathway to studying medicine in India, with millions of students taking the exam each year, though only a small percentage secure placements.

The results announced on June 4 showed even high-scorers struggling to secure placements, raising concerns about errors in the question paper, unwarranted grace marks (compensatory marks), and fraud. Reports indicate that at least two students received scores so high they were statistically impossible. The Supreme Court is set to review a case challenging the grace marks.

Federal Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan acknowledged earlier this month that “some irregularities” had surfaced. Subsequently, Singh faced intense criticism and was dismissed on Saturday. Additionally, a qualifying exam for PhD fellowships was canceled after the question paper was leaked on the dark web. The entrance test for post-graduate degrees in medicine, scheduled for Sunday, was postponed just 12 hours before it was to begin, affecting over 200,000 registered candidates.

Opposition parties and student groups have been holding protests nationwide, pressuring Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recently re-elected government. Despite the scorching heat, many students participated in the widespread demonstrations.

Rahul Gandhi, leader of the opposition Congress Party, accused Modi’s government of ruining the country’s education system. “There is huge pressure on our students. There’s large-scale unemployment in the country,” Gandhi said. “The youngsters in India have no way through. The youth of India have nowhere to go. It’s a profound national crisis.”

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