NEET, NET Exam Row: Centre Sets Up 7-Member Reform Panel

(MENAFN- Kashmir Observer) New Delhi- Amid a row over irregularities in competitive exams NEET and NET, the education Ministry on Saturday notified a seven-member panel headed by former ISRO chief K Radhakrishnan to ensure transparent, smooth and fair conduct of examinations through the National Testing Agency (NTA).

“Transparent, tamper-free and zero-error examinations are a commitment. Setting up of the high-level committee of experts is the first of a series of steps to improve the efficiency of the examination process, put an end to all possible malpractices, strengthen data security protocols and overhaul and reform the NTA,” Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said.


“Students' interests and their bright future will always be our government's top priority,” he added.

The ministry's notification comes two days after Pradhan announced the setting up of the committee.

The panel will make recommendations on reforms in the mechanism of the examination process, improvement in data security protocols and the structure and functioning of the NTA. It is supposed to submit its report within two months.

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The panel also includes former AIIMS Delhi director Randeep Guleria, Central University of Hyderabad Vice-Chancellor B J Rao, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Civil Engineering at IIT Madras K Ramamurthy, People Strong co-founder and Karmayogi Bharat board member Pankaj Bansal, IIT Delhi Dean of Student Affairs Aditya Mittal and Ministry of Education Joint Secretary Govind Jaiswal.

“The panel will analyse the end-to-end examination process and suggest measures to improve efficiency of the system and to forestall any possible breach. It will conduct a thorough review of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and protocols of the NTA, and suggest measures to strengthen these procedures and protocols along with monitoring mechanism to ensure compliance at every level,” the Ministry of Education said in a statement.

The committee has also been tasked with examining the existing security protocols related to the setting of the papers and other processes for different examinations and making recommendations to enhance the robustness of the system.

The NTA, which is under fire over the lapses in the conduct of NEET and UGC-NET, is gearing up to conduct on Sunday a retest for the medical entrance exam for 1,563 candidates who were earlier awarded grace marks to make up for the loss of time at six centres.

While medical NEET is under scanner over several irregularities, including alleged leaks, the UGC-NET was cancelled a day after it was conducted as the ministry received inputs that the integrity of the exam was compromised.

Govt Removes Exam Body Chief

Facing protests in several parts of the country as well as attacks from the opposition, the Centre has removed the chief of the National Testing Agency (NTA) from his post amid the controversy over the alleged irregularities in NEET-UG and the cancellation of the UGC-NET Exam.

In a statement on Saturday, the Ministry of Personnel announced that Subodh Kumar Singh, who was the director general of the NTA, has been replaced by retired Indian Administration Service (IAS) officer Pradeep Singh Kharola. Mr Kharola is the Chairman and Managing Editor of the India Trade Promotion Organisation and has been given additional charge as the Director General of the NTA“till the appointment of a regular incumbent or until further orders”.

The move comes hours after the government constituted a committee which will give recommendations to improve the functioning of the agency and a day before around 1,500 students who had been given grace marks for NEET-UG will take a retest.

The CSIR UGC NET exam – scheduled to be held from June 25 to June 27 – also had to be postponed due to“logistical reasons” on Friday and the NEET-PG exam, scheduled for Sunday, was rescheduled late on Saturday.

Sources told NDTV that the repeated allegations of leaks in exams conducted by the NTA and the inconvenience caused to students, as well as the outpouring of anger among them, had made Mr Singh's position tenuous. Pressure from a resurgent opposition as well as adverse remarks by the Supreme Court against the NTA also played a role in the decision.

The move is also part of a promised overhaul of the National Testing Agency, which has been spoken about by Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan as well. Sources said that, at a recent Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked Mr Pradhan to take action, and the crackdown has now begun.

Punishing The Guilty

The priority for the government now, they said, is to get to the bottom of the alleged paper leaks and bring the guilty to book. This is especially important since the NTA organises several key examinations, including the NEET and JEE, for which lakhs of students appear. The Supreme Court is also scheduled to hear petitions on the issue on July 8.

Earlier on Saturday, the government constituted a seven-member committee to look at ways of improving the functioning of the NTA. The panel will be led by Dr K Radhakrishnan, a former ISRO chief and the current chairperson of the board of governors of IIT Kanpur, and will have former AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria as one of the members.

After the committee was formed, Pradhan said it was the first in a series of steps to improve the efficiency of the examination process.

“Transparent, tamper-free and zero-error examinations is a commitment. Setting up of the high-level committee of experts is the first of a series of step to improve efficiency of the examination process, put an end to all possible malpractices, strengthen data security protocols and overhaul and reform the NTA. Student interests and their bright future will always be our govt's top priority,” he posted on X.

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