Centre sacks NTA Director General amid NEET, NET row

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This comes amidst a growing controversy over alleged irregularities in the conduct of exams…reports Asian Lite News

The Centre on Saturday removed National Testing Agency (NTA) Director General Subodh Kumar Singh from his post and put him on “compulsory wait” in the Department of Personnel and Training.

This comes amidst a growing controversy over alleged irregularities in the conduct of exams.

Pradeep Singh Kharola has been given additional charge of the post of Director General, National Testing Agency (NTA), Ministry of Education.

“Assignment of additional charge of the post of Director General, National Testing Agency, Ministry of Education to Pradeep Singh Kharola, IAS (KN:85) (Retd.), Chairman and Managing Director, India Trade Promotion Organization till appointment of a regular incumbent or until further orders, whichever is earlier,” the notice stated.

“Placing the services of Subodh Kumar Singh, IAS (CG:97), Director General, National Testing Agency, Ministry of Education on compulsory wait in the Department of Personnel and Training,” it added.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare postponed the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test Postgraduate (NEET PG) Examination on Saturday, which was scheduled to be held on Sunday and said that a fresh date will be announced at the earliest.

The NEET-PG exams were scheduled to be held on June 23.

“Taking into consideration, the recent incidents of allegations regarding the integrity of certain competitive examinations, the Ministry of Health has decided to undertake a thorough assessment of the robustness of the processes of the NEET-PG Entrance Examination, conducted by the National Board of Examination for medical students,” the ministry statement read.

“It has accordingly been decided, as a precautionary measure, to postpone the NEET-PG Entrance Examination, scheduled to be held on 23rd June 2024. The fresh date of this examination will be notified at the earliest,” the ministry added.

“The Ministry of Health sincerely regrets the inconvenience caused to the students. This decision has been taken in the best interests of the students and to maintain the sanctity of the examination process,” the health ministry said.

The National Testing Agency (NTA), which conducted the NEET-UG exams, is facing criticism over alleged irregularities in the exams. This resulted in several protests across the country, with protestors and political parties demanding to disband the NTA.

An unprecedented 67 candidates achieved a perfect score of 720 marks out of 720, which added to the concerns.

The Ministry of Education said it has constituted a high-level committee of experts to make recommendations on reforms in the mechanism of the examination process, improvements in data security protocols and the functioning of the NTA.

The 7-member committee, led by ISRO former chairman Dr K. Radhakrishnan, will submit its report to the ministry in the next two months.

‘Total incompetence’

Meanwhile, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh on Saturday attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and claimed that exam cancellations are happening in the country every day because of the “total incompetence” of PM Modi and the “people around him”.

“No day is complete without news of the cancellation of an exam because of the total incompetence of the non-biological PM and the people around him. The latest exam to be put off is NEET-PG, which was scheduled to be held on Sunday,” Jairam Ramesh posted on X.

‘Govt lost its trust among youth’

Congress leader Pawan Khera on Saturday attacked the central government over the postponement of the NEET-PG examination and said that the government has completely “lost its trust” among the youth.

“The NEET PG exam which was supposed to be held tomorrow has been postponed tonight…This government is not able to conduct exams. This government has completely lost its trust among the youth. The Education Minister who was giving a clean chit to NTA 4 days ago, is now removing the Director General of NTA. Who is responsible for the exams? Who is being saved? When will this investigation happen? When will this government be able to get the exam done properly? People are not getting answers to these questions,” Khera said in a self-made video.

‘Pradhan should resign with immediate effect’

Shiv Sena (UBT) spokesperson Anand Dubey demanded resignation from Union Health Minister Dharmendra Pradhan with immediate effect for the postponement of the NEET-PG examination and said that the government will have to change the entire system and remove the incapable officials.

“The NEET PG exam which was to be held on Sunday has been postponed…Nothing will happen by changing only the officers of NTA. The government will have to change the entire system. First of all, Dharmendra Pradhan should resign with immediate effect and this responsibility should be given to a new minister. Otherwise, crores of students will suffer. The anger of those who are coming out on the streets at this time will increase further,” Dubey said.

“As the opposition, we can only demand from you that you bring in new people with immediate effect, bring in capable people and remove those who are inactive and indifferent from their posts,” he added.

Tejashwi demands justice for students

Meanwhile, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav on Saturday demanded justice to be served to the candidates amid the outrage over the alleged NEET paper leak.

“The minister is saying that there has been no leak of the papers… We want justice to be served to the people (students)… Incidents of murders, bridge collapses and railway accidents are happening under the double-engine government,” Yadav told reporters on Saturday.

Earlier in the day, the RJD leader told reporters, “Wherever there is a BJP government, paper leaks are happening there…It is my appeal to investigation agencies to probe Sanjeev Mukhiya. I urge the government to probe this. Sanjeev Mukhiya is said to be the head of Nitish Kumar and Amit Anand, who have been nabbed (in NEET issue). This should be investigated.”

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