The Supreme Court recently lifted the age cap on medical entrance exam, NEET. Now people like Pradeep, a 48-year-old farmer, can fulfill their dreams of becoming doctors!
Farmer Pradeep Halder, aged 48, looks set to finally realise his dream of becoming his village’s doctor thanks to the latest move by the Supreme Court judgment, which has just removed the age cap on candidates appearing for national level medical entrance test, NEET.
Pradeep of Pratappur in Naida distict, West Bengal, has been trying to pursue his dream since 2000 but due to financial constraints he has not been able to progress past the exams. So far, Pradeep has taken the exam 16 times, but each time his rank has only qualified him for a seat in private medical colleges or dental colleges, which he isn’t able to afford.
With the removal of the age cap for NEET, Pradeep now stands a chance at gaining a government college seat and he is filled with fresh new determination.
“It would have been impossible for me to pay such a huge amount of tuition fee and study. But I have kept my dream alive. Every year, I have found a berth but never have I been able to make it to a government medical college,” Pradeep told the Times of India.
Pradeep works as a farmer ploughing a hired agricultural land in his village. Currently there are no doctors in the village. If any of its residents require medical attention, major or minor, they face a 20km journey to the nearest primary healthcare centre. Pradeep hopes that by becoming a doctor he will be able to help his neighbours receive medical treatment right there in the village and not have to travel so far.
The Central Board of Secondary Education had previously fixed 25 as the upper age limit for candidates taking the common entrance test (NEET) for medical colleges, a move that was supported by the Medical Council of India (MCI). The MCI told the Supreme Court that a student below 25 years is capable of undertaking medicine course because it requires rigorous study, which sharp young minds can absorb easily, suggesting that the exam would be too much for a more mature person.
Last week, however, the Supreme Court scrapped the age cap, allowing students like Pradeep the chance to become a medical practitioner. It also allows students wishing to take the exam the option of filling up forms through the online portal of the CBSE till April 5 for the next NEET exam, which is scheduled to take place on May 7.
Pradeep reported to the TOI his preparation plans for the upcoming exam, “Had I got the chance to concentrate only on studies, I may have done better. Last year, I had dedicated three months to preparations by taking off from my job of a daily farmer. I had gone to Kolkata and stayed in a rented accommodation and studied for three months. I had achieved a better score as well as rank. This year, too, I plan to shift to Kolkata and concentrate on the preparations till May 7.”
Pradeep is supported by two daughters, a son, his wife and mother who he says are extremely encouraging of his dream of becoming a doctor, and now thanks to the Supreme Court’s latest move he is one step closer.