Context: The Union Health Ministry has recently announced reservation in the all-India quota (AIQ) scheme for undergraduate and postgraduate medical and dental courses from 2021-22.
- 27% reservation for the OBCs (Other Backward Classes) and
- 10% quota for the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS).
- It would benefit every year nearly
- 1,500 OBC students at the undergraduate level (MBBS) and 2,500 such students at the postgraduate level, and
- Around 550 EWS students in MBBS and around 1,000 such students in postgraduate courses.
About the All-India Quota (AIQ) scheme:
- It was introduced in 1986 under the directions of the Supreme Court.
- To provide for domicile-free merit-based opportunities to students from any State aspiring to study in a medical college located in another State.
- It comprises 15% of the UG seats and 50% of the PG seats in government medical colleges.
- Initially, there was no reservation in the AIQ.
- In 2007, the Supreme Court introduced a reservation of 15% for SCs and 7.5% for STs in the scheme.
- When the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act became effective that year, providing for uniform 27% reservation to the OBCs, the same was implemented in all the Central educational institutions.
- These included Safdarjung Hospital, Lady Harding Medical College, Aligarh Muslim University and Banaras Hindu University among others.
- However, this was not extended to the AIQ seats of State medical and dental colleges.
Reservation Policy So far:
- Until 2007, no reservation was implemented within the All India Quota for medical admission.
- On January 31, 2007, in Abhay Nath v University of Delhi and Others, the Supreme Court directed that reservation of 15% for Scheduled Castes and 7.5% for Scheduled Tribes be introduced in the AIQ.
- The same year, the government passed the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act, 2007.
- It provides for 27% reservation to OBC students in central government institutions.
- While state government medical and dental colleges provide reservations to OBCs in seats outside the All India Quota.
- This benefit was so far not extended to seats allocated under the AIQ in these state colleges.
- The 10% EWS quota under the Constitution (One Hundred And Third Amendment) Act, 2019, too, has been implemented in central educational institutions, but not in the NEET AIQ for state institutions.
The Rationale behind the change:
- The denial of OBC and EWS reservations has been the subject of protests for years.
- In July 2020, on a petition by Tamil Nadu’s ruling DMK and its allies, the Madras High Court ruled that OBC students too can avail reservation in the AIQ.
- It held that the reservation could not be implemented for the then academic year for want of time, and can be implemented from 2021-22.
- According to the NTA, the reservation to OBC candidates in State surrendered seats under All India Quota from the academic session 2021-22 shall be subject to the outcome of the (Saloni Kumari) case pending before the Hon’ble Supreme Court.
Medicine Education Stats in India:
- In the last six years, the MBBS seats in the country have increased by 56%, from 54,348 seats in 2014 to 84,649 seats in 2020.
- The number of PG seats increased by 80%, from 30,191 seats in 2014 to 54,275 seats in 2020.
- In the same period, 179 new medical colleges have been established and now the country has 558 medical colleges i.e.,
- 289 government colleges and 269 privately run.
About the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET):
- It is the entrance examination for entry to all undergraduate (NEET-UG) and postgraduate (NEET-PG) medical and dental courses in the country.
- Until 2016, the All India Pre-Medical Test (AIPMT) was the national-level entrance examination for medical colleges, while state governments used to hold separate entrance tests for seats that were not contested at an all-India level.
- NEET was held for the first time in 2003 but discontinued the following year.
- On April 13, 2016, the Supreme Court upheld the newly inserted section 10-D of the Indian Medical Council Act:
- That provides for a uniform entrance examination to all medical educational institutions at the undergraduate level and postgraduate level in Hindi, English and various other languages.
- Since then, NEET has been the uniform entrance test for medical courses across the country.
- It was conducted by the CBSE initially and has been conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA) since 2018.