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Addressing Disappointment and Depression

The Impact of Reservation Policies in NEET Exam on Meritorious Candidates
12:00 AM May 13, 2024 IST | Faiz Fazili
addressing disappointment and depression

The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) is a crucial examination in India, determining admission to medical and dental colleges across the country. However, the presence of reservation policies in NEET has sparked debates and controversies, particularly among meritorious candidates. While reservation aims to address historical injustices and promote social equity, it also raises concerns about fairness and meritocracy. This essay delves into the multifaceted impact of reservation policies in NEET on meritorious candidates, exploring their feelings of disappointment and depression in a thousand words.


Understanding Reservation Policies in NEET


Reservation policies in NEET allocate a certain percentage of seats to various categories, such as Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST), Other Backward Classes (OBC), and economically weaker sections (EWS). These policies aim to uplift historically disadvantaged communities and ensure equal opportunities in education and employment. However, the implementation of reservation can be perceived as a double-edged sword, especially by meritorious candidates who believe their hard work and achievements are undermined.

Disappointment Among Meritorious Candidates


For meritorious candidates who have dedicated years to rigorous preparation for NEET, the presence of reservation policies can evoke feelings of disappointment and disillusionment. They may perceive reservation as a barrier to their aspirations, hindering their chances of securing admission based solely on merit. Moreover, witnessing individuals with lower scores gaining admission through reservation can fuel a sense of injustice and unfairness.


The Merit vs. Reservation Debate


The debate between merit and reservation is longstanding in India's education system. Meritocracy advocates argue that admission should be solely based on academic performance, talent, and aptitude, without any consideration of caste or social background. They contend that reservation compromises the principle of meritocracy and undermines the efforts of deserving candidates. On the other hand, proponents of reservation assert that it is essential for addressing historical injustices and promoting social inclusion. They argue that without reservation, marginalized communities would continue to face systemic barriers to education and employment opportunities.


Psychological Impact: Depression Among Meritorious Candidates

The disappointment experienced by meritorious candidates due to reservation policies in NEET can escalate into depression. The constant pressure to perform exceptionally well, coupled with the fear of losing out to candidates benefiting from reservation, can take a toll on mental health. Moreover, the perception of a lack of fairness and transparency in the admission process can lead to feelings of hopelessness and despair. Meritorious candidates may question the value of their efforts and struggle with a sense of inadequacy in the face of systemic challenges.

Challenges to Mental Well-being

The psychological impact of reservation policies extends beyond disappointment to encompass various challenges to mental well-being among meritorious candidates. The competitive nature of NEET, compounded by the presence of reservation, intensifies stress and anxiety levels. Meritorious candidates may experience heightened pressure to outperform their peers, leading to burnout and emotional exhaustion. Additionally, the fear of societal expectations and judgment adds to the psychological burden, exacerbating feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt.

Coping Mechanisms and Resilience

Despite facing disappointment and depression, meritorious candidates demonstrate remarkable resilience and adaptability in navigating the challenges posed by reservation policies in NEET. They leverage coping mechanisms such as seeking social support, engaging in self-care practices, and maintaining a positive mindset. Moreover, they channel their frustrations into constructive actions, advocating for reforms in reservation policies and promoting merit-based admissions. By focusing on their strengths and aspirations, meritorious candidates empower themselves to overcome obstacles and pursue their academic and professional goals.
Reproducing the expression of one of the NEET  candidates posted on X (formerly twitter) can give you insight into what is going inside the brains of NEET aspirants;

“Hey guys, if you're planning to take NEET in J&K, here's what's up. The current updated rules tell me even if you do really well, like scoring 610, if you're in the open merit category, you might not get anything.”

It can indeed be disheartening for meritorious candidates when they perceive that their hard work and achievements might be overshadowed or undervalued by reservation policies. Such policies aim to address historical injustices and promote social equity, but their implementation can sometimes create feelings of frustration or disappointment among those who believe they are being unfairly disadvantaged.

Proposal for Open Interactive session and Seminar

It's essential to recognize that the issue of reservation is complex and often intertwined with broader social, economic, and historical factors. While reservation policies seek to ensure representation and opportunities for marginalized communities, they must also strive for fairness and balance to avoid alienating other segments of society.

I propose  an open seminar or interactive session on this subject from the policy planners which can  clarify a lot of misinformation or misconceptions.

For meritorious candidates feeling discouraged by such policies, it's crucial to focus on what they can control: their dedication, skills, and determination. While systemic challenges may exist, excellence and hard work ultimately prevail in the long run. Additionally, engaging in constructive dialogue and advocating for fair and transparent policies can be productive ways to address concerns and work towards positive change

In conclusion, the impact of reservation policies in NEET on meritorious candidates is profound and multifaceted, evoking feelings of disappointment and depression. While reservation aims to address historical injustices and promote social equity, its implementation raises concerns about fairness and meritocracy. Meritorious candidates grapple with the challenges posed by reservation, including the perception of injustice, pressure to excel, and psychological distress. However, through resilience, advocacy, and self-care, meritorious candidates navigate these challenges and strive towards realizing their aspirations. Ultimately, fostering a balanced approach that upholds both meritocracy and social equity is essential for creating an inclusive and equitable education system in India.

The author is a practicing surgeon and Healthcare policy analyst, Certified professional in Healthcare Quality Standards, National and international expert on Healthcare planning and reforms.