Another hurdle for differently abled after qualifying NEET

NEW DELHI: After qualifying for National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for admission to undergraduate medical courses, the differently-abled students are facing another hurdle to get a disability certificate from 12 designated disability centres, many of which have converted into Covid only facilities.

Pooja (name changed), a hearing impaired student from Jammu, went to Government Medical College and Hospital in Sector 32 Chandigarh last week to get the disability certificate. “I was told that the board has not been meeting and I would not be able to get the certificate. My family requested them and said if I am not examined and given the certificate I would lose my seat and might not get the desired college in time. It was then that the needful was done,” she said. But after Pooja went back to Jammu she fell sick and tested positive for Covid-19.

About 420 differently-abled students have qualified for NEET this year and are required to travel to 12 designated disability centres across India to get the requisite disability certificate, a requirement if the differently-abled candidate wants to avail of the 5% disabled quota in educational institutions. However, disability rights activists have questioned the need to make differently-abled candidates travel to the designated centres during Covid-19 outbreak. Dr Satendra Singh, founder Doctors with Disabilities, said, “Delhi University has exempted pyang students from getting this certificate for the time being. There are government guidelines which exempt differently abled employees from attending office physically till the end of the pandemic. So why this discrimination against students? No other category of students tapping into a government quota has to prove credentials before admission.”

Singh, whose organisation has been supporting differently-abled students through the NEET selection process, says that all students have government-issued unique identity card. Singh said, “They have to undergo this test to go to the next level of counselling. Then once they are finally selected, the college also checks everything before they are finally admitted. During a pandemic, they can at least be spared the trouble of travelling to far away centres to get a certificate.”

Secretary (disability affairs) Shakuntala Gamlin told ET, “These candidates are availing 5% disability quota. The guidelines require the students to get assessed at designated disability centres to ensure there is no misuse of the quota and only the deserving candidates with 40-80% disability get the certificate.” Gamlin said the unique identity card (UDID) issued by her department to the disabled students is to enumerate the differently-abled in each district and ensure welfare measures reach them. “The card issued does not gauge the percentage of disability (a requirement for availing the disability quota) which is done by the board at the designated centres,” Gamlin said.

Even when students travel the distance and appear before the boards, there is a lot of uncertainty over guidelines. Pradeep (name changed), a low vision candidate who appeared at Institute of Medical Sciences at Banaras Hindu University, said, “During the assessment I was told I have about 50% disability. Now the final certificate I have received on Monday says 10%. Now I don’t know how to challenge this.” Despite repeated attempts, health ministry did not respond to a questionnaire sent by ET.

Cost accountant qualification to be considered equivalent to PG degree

The Institute of Cost Accountants of India on Thursday said cost management accountant qualification will be considered equivalent to a post graduate degree for appearing in UGC-NET examination. In a release, the Institute of Cost Accountants of India said Cost Management Accountant (CMA) qualification would be equivalent to post graduate degrees as recognised by the University Grants Commission.

The National Eligibility Test (NET) is conducted for determining the eligibility of Indian nationals for assistant professorship, junior research fellowship or both, for Indian universities and colleges.

“This recognition would provide opportunities to CMA professionals to pursue higher studies and would also facilitate widespread international acceptance of CMA qualification,” institute’s President Biswarup Basu said.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has decided to recognise qualifications of chartered accountant, cost accountant and company secretary as equivalent to a post graduate degree.