Diet diary: A sweet potato for weight watchers and diabetics

DESPITE its name, sweet potato is not related to the potato family and is quite different nutritionally too. While the potato is a tuber or a thickened stem, the sweet potato is a storage root and loaded with nutrients, has made it to the list of top 10 diabetes super foods by the American Diabetes Association.

Though its origin lies in Latin America, Asia is its largest producer. Its importance is growing and it is the sixth most important food crop after rice, wheat, potatoes, maize and cassava. High in starch and fibre, the nature of carbohydrates differs from that in potatoes. Its high fibre content contributes to a lower glycemic index 44, which is almost half of potatoes (glycemic index 80). This property makes the sweet potato a useful carbohydrate source for weight watchers and diabetics. According to a 2004 study led by University of Vienna associate professor Dr Berhhard Ludvik and published in the journal Diabetes Care, type 2 diabetic patients treated with sweet potato saw significant decreases in fasting blood glucose levels and overall improvement in glucose control. Sweet potato when eaten with the skin has more fiber than oatmeal.

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Cooking methods also affect the glycemic index of a sweet potato. For diabetics, certain cooking methods are more conducive to managing blood sugar levels. Boiled or mashed sweet potatoes, for instance, are not recommended as they are digested faster, thus increasing their glycemic index and possibly causing blood sugar levels to spike. Similar to fibre, fat will slow the rate of digestion and therefore maintain the low glycemic index, so a cooking method for sweet potatoes that is good for diabetics is sautéing in oil or roasting with the skins on. Sweet potato comes in varieties with skin and flesh color that range from white to yellow, orange, and deep purple.

According to the American Diabetes Association, apart from high fibre, sweet potato has antioxidant nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin C, zinc, and other micronutrients like potassium, magnesium, iron and vitamin B, which all help in good diabetes management and prevention of diabetes complications such as heart attacks and stroke.

Orange-fleshed sweet potato is an important source of beta-carotene, the precursor to Vitamin A. Just 125g of fresh sweet potato from orange-fleshed varieties contain enough beta-carotene to provide the daily pro-vitamin A needs of a preschooler. One medium (100 gms) sweet potato, baked with the skin, has about four times the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of Vitamin A and almost half the recommendation for Vitamin C. Nutrients in sweet potato are also useful for people with obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and promotion of good health in general. A 2011 animal study conducted at School of Medicine and Life Sciences, Zhejiang University City College, China, reported that purple sweet potato flavonoids can decrease the blood glucose and lipids levels.

Staple food source for many ancient populations, sweet potato has also been found to have special cancer preventing properties, which are present in the purple-fleshed sweet potato. Anthocyanins, which give the purple colour to sweet potatoes are powerful bioavailable antioxidants, which are utilized efficiently by the body. Other nutrients, which possess anti-cancer properties of sweet potato include high amounts of vitamin A, which contribute the orange colour to the orange-fleshed sweet potato.

Overall, sweet potatoes are a healthy source of carbohydrates. Remember to watch your portions and substitute these for other carbohydrates and don’t go overboard!

Go for ‘Grills on Fire’ to relish heavenly kebabs at The Ancient Barbeque

Ever wondered how a dish named drunken fish or wine-glazed mushroom would taste? Head for the ongoing Grills on Fire — a fiery feast at The Ancient Barbeque (TAB) in this suburb of the national capital where an array of 24 kebabs — vegan and non-vegan — await the opportunity to tickle your tummy.

TAB specialises in grilled delicacies and this makes it an ideal place for foodies who enjoy digging into starters more than the main course.

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“There are too many restaurants with the same menu. We thought of coming up with something different. We wanted to focus mostly on the barbeque dishes and cater in the best best possible way,” Jehangir Khan, Branch Manager, The Ancient Barbeque said.

So how did the thought of a festival focused on kebabs happen?

“Since we are already focused on grilled items so, we wanted to bring in some more variety to the existing menu. The items which will be liked by visitors will also be included in the main menu,” Khan replied.

In the mood for some Chinese? Try this Dan Dan Noodles recipe

You might be a fan of rajma-chawal, idli, dosa, sambar and even Mughlai food for that matter but there’s no denying that Chinese food rules the heart of the country. Visit any city across India and you will always find a Chinese corner, with people happily tucking food into their tummy. If you are tired of eating the same dal-chawal every single day and in the mood for some Chinese then we would recommend this Dan Dan Noodles recipe by Chef Vivek Kumar, Oxford Golf Resort, Pune.

Not only is it easy to make, it’s also healthy and the perfect substitute for those roadside noodles dripping with oil and laden with chili and half-cooked cabbage. Try it out at home, you won’t be disappointed.

Not only is it easy to make, it's also healthy and the perfect substitute to those roadside noodles dripping with oil.

Preparation Time: 30 mins
Cooking Time: 10 mins
Serves 5

500g – Wheat noodles
250g – Cabbage (julienne)
100ml – Soya sauce
50g – Sesame paste
25ml – Sesame oil
30ml – Peanut oil
25g – Scallions
50g – Bean sprouts
30g – Salt
75ml – Chili oil
1.5ltr – Water

* Take a heavy bottom pan, pour water and let it boil on medium flame.

* Throw in the noodles in boiling water and let it cook for 6-8 mins.

* Make sure, noodles are tender not soft.

* Add cabbage in the same pan until it’s just wilted.

* Remove and set aside.

* In the meantime, thin the sesame paste with sesame oil and julienne the scallions.

* In the bottom of the serving bowl, place all condiments along with bean sprouts.

* Top up the nest of noodles along with the wilted cabbage.

* Drizzle the seasoning and chili oil from top, garnish with scallions.

* Stir to mix and eat.

Jaipur food fest to revive Persian delicacies for Nowruz

The “forgotten recipes” of Persia are about to be revived at a 13-day food festival that promises an authentic culinary fare through the subtle flavours that originated in Iran centuries ago. Heralding Nowruz, the dawn of the Persian New Year, Fairmont Jaipur is launching the food fest on March 21 at the hotel’s signature Indo-Persian restaurant “Zarin” — a name inspired by the Persian connotation for gold — that celebrates the fusion of two ancient culinary traditions of Asia.

“Zarin is a unique restaurant that adds drama and flair to our repertoire of dining facilities at Fairmont Jaipur. The restaurant evokes heart-warming nostalgia of grandiose culinary traditions of the warrior kings and emperors across Persia,” Srijan Vadhera, General Manager, Fairmont Jaipur, said while announcing the launch of the festival at an event here over the weekend.

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The Persian food festival that also marks the launch of a new menu at Zarin will offer guests a wide selection of vegetarian and non-vegetarian delicacies, including Iranian Haleem, Mutton Dhansak, Tabriz Koftey — stuffed chicken dumpling filled with nuts and spices – and Patrani Paneer Kebab — banana leaf wrapped grilled cottage cheese flavoured with garlic and cinnamon.

“The new menu at Zarin will offer diners a delightful insight into a bygone era that has influenced our cuisine in countless ways. The food festival that celebrates Nowruz is a compilation of highlights from the new menu breathing life into the forgotten recipes of Persia,” Manpreet Singh, Executive Chef, Fairmont Jaipur, said.

The 200-room Farirmont Jaipur Hotel that integrates the Rajputana decor with the majesty of Mughal architecture to offer guests the grandeur of a palace with all modern amenities is located just 10 kms from the famous Amer Fort.

Besides the Indo-Persian restaurant “Zarin”, the hotel also boasts of a multi-cuisine restaurant “Zoya”, and a library-bar where one can sip the selected choice of premium scotch whiskeys or fine wines while reading a book or watching the best of Charlie Chaplin films.

Food for Thought

Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modiexpressed concern over “wastage of food” in his radio programme, Mann Ki Baat. Two weeks later, his government has devised a plan to counter it. The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public distribution is planning to regulate food portions served at restaurants and is said to be drafting a questionnaire for hotels and restaurants to explain what dish sizes they should serve to a customer. Some say that the mandate for eateries would just be to clearly mention the portion size on the menu so that customers know how much to order. In any case, this has added to the confusion among the restaurant owners, who are already working hard to get around the liquor ban.

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Calling it a cheap publicity tactic, Riyaaz Amlani, President of National Restaurant Association of India told The Indian Express, “Keeping a check on food wastage is a very good idea but maybe they should start with government-run godowns and sabzi mandis where several metric tonnes of food is wasted. As far as the restaurants are concerned, food never goes waste because customers get the food packed if they can’t finish it or it is distributed among the poor.”

Adds Amit Burman, promoter of Lite Bite Foods, who has seven restaurant chains across India including Punjab Grill, Zambar, Asia 7 and the Subway outlets, “I don’t understand who is advising the government to come up with such ideas. They have bigger things to do.” Burman adds that it is absolutely impractical to put such a regulation in place. “The question here is: how are they going to do it? For instance, if we are serving grilled chicken, how can the government decide the size of chicken?” he says. There are many factors, he says, that go into a restaurant arriving at a suitable portion size — such as pricing, raw material and the number of ingredients used in a particular dish.

“We don’t need to be told that food should not be wasted. This is common sense. This is no way to figure out a standard size. Portions are decided on the basis of research and customer feedback. This is a service industry and has to be run by our guests and not the government. Some of our raw materials come pre-portioned while others that have a shelf-life are closely monitored,” says Rahul Singh, Owner, Beer Cafe, which has many outlets across Delhi.

Even the chefs are quite unsure how such a regulation can be implemented. Also, while everyone agrees in principle that food wastage needs to be curbed, people in the industry are of the view that restaurants are the last place where wastage of food actually happens. Chef Ravitej Nath, who has worked with Oberoi group for 18 years, says “Food wastage is a huge problem but restaurants are only a part of the problem. What we need is to create awareness and devise a system where food is collected and redistributed. I don’t think curbing portion sizes will help.”

Looking for healthy recipes? Try out this Burmese White Fungus Salad

Dieticians and nutritionists always vouch for salads, especially in the summers. Having a salad as a wholesome meal or as a part of your meal is probably the best way to keep your body cool in this scorching heat. If you are running out of ideas on how to prepare one then here’s some help. This Burmese White Fungus Salad by chef Ansab Khan from Burma Burma, Gurgaon is extremely light on the stomach and also has a tangy taste to it. It’s also easy to make and is rich in nutrients.

For those who are sceptical about trying out a Burmese recipe, let’s tell you that Burmese cuisine which has strong, pungent flavours uses a lot of fresh ingredients, tropical fruits and peanuts and are also big on spicy, sour and crunchy salads. To be honest, they can prepare one with almost anything under the sun. So, what are you waiting for? Try it out today!

Salad, Burmese cuisine, Burmese food

150 g – White fungus
1 cup – Shredded vegetables (carrot, cucumber, raw papaya, sliced onion, cabbage)
2 tbsp – Tamarind pulp
½ – Lime
½ tsp – Fried garlic
1 tbsp – Garlic oil
½ tsp – Jalapenos or green chilli chopped
Salt as required

* Boil the white fungus for 5 to 7 mins till cooked, then drain and soak it in chilled water.

* In a salad mixing bowl break the white fungus with hands then add in all the vegetables and tamarind pulp and garlic oil.

* Toss it gently and add the crisp fried garlic on top before serving.

One School's Quest for Personalized Public Education

SAN DIEGO—To understand just how far Vista High School will go to keep kids interested in school, consider the case of 17-year-old Hernan Hernandez and his skateboard.

Hernan, an avid skateboarder, was bored in gym class. So were his classmates. So, late this spring, Hernan approached Principal Anthony Barela with a potential solution: What about offering them a skateboarding course instead?

“I’m pretty sure if you told them they could skate and get an A, they would do that,” Hernan told Barela, a former football coach who is maniacal about keeping Vista High School students in school.

Students walk across a grassy field in front of a school building.

Barela agreed: He’ll work with Hernan to design a skateboarding course, part of the school’s dramatic transformation toward meeting the needs and interests of the roughly 2,600 students, most of whom are Hispanic and working class, who attend this open-air suburban high school. Next year, Vista will enter an uncharted era: Every freshman will embark on a new curriculum designed to help them find and pursue their interests.

A $10 million prize from the national nonprofit XQ Super School Project is already overhauling Vista High, encouraging more cross-disciplinary, independent projects; enhanced access to technology; and close attention to social and emotional skills. The changes support a contention of high-school reformers nationally and some educators here: “The way we’re teaching students, it’s not working,” the Vista science teacher Allison Whitman said during a recent weekday before school ended for the summer.

District officials have been pushing similar changes in all of Vista’s schools since a series of student forums four years ago revealed an unexpected truth. After Matt Doyle, Vista’s acting superintendent, helped interview more than 2,000 middle- and high-school students about their school experiences and dumped all of his interview notes into a software program that identifies the most frequently mentioned words, one word rose to the surface: “irrelevant.”

“That was kind of a gut check for us,” Doyle said, and it prompted the district to issue a challenge to all its schools—to create classes more tailored to their students’ interests. Vista High School and Barela leapt at the opportunity.

Vista High School was struggling with chronic absenteeism, and, most vexing to Barela, 10 percent of students who entered as freshmen dropped out before senior year.

The idea officials came up with two years ago, called the “personalized-learning academy,” or PLA, eventually formed the basis for the school’s winning XQ-grant application, and will be the model for the curriculum that Vista rolls out this fall.

In September, Vista’s entire incoming freshman class of about 700 will be split into five “houses” of between 130 and 150 students and four teachers each, with the teachers trained to home in on the students’ strengths and preferences. The XQ prize money, paid out over the next five years in $2 million installments, will fund total conversion of the school by 2020.

For Barela, the barometer for success for the inaugural freshman class is straightforward: “If we don’t lose ’em,” the school is making progress.

Vista’s transformation comes in the midst of increasing national attention on the potential of personalized learning— and the new technologies enabling it—to solve a whole range of challenges facing schools, from student behavior, to job readiness, to academic achievement. The term encompasses a variety of techniques, often involving technology, meant to give students more control over what they learn and how fast they learn it. Advocates say it’s more effective than having an educator present one lesson, at the same pace, teaching a group of students with different interests and needs. But the approach is so new that, so far, little evidence exists to suggest it can deliver on its potential, and there’s little agreement about what it looks like in practice.

Vista’s willingness to extend personalized learning to all 25,000 of its students will make it one of the first districts in the country to take on the approach system-wide, Doyle said. And the changes at Vista High School will become a high-profile national test run of how a personalized-learning approach can work in a large, comprehensive public high school, the kind most U.S. students still attend.

Already, the new system at Vista is creating anxiety for students, teachers, and parents who are new to the approach.

“People are scared,” said Craig Gastauer, a former science teacher at Vista now leading the training for the school’s ninth-grade teachers, “because they haven’t seen it—they haven’t been able to wrap their minds around what this change is going to look like.”

Principal Barela, a devoted fan of the school’s successful athletic teams, is optimistic, and analogizes the school’s to new model to high-school sports. In sports, constant feedback from coaches helps athletes identify the skills they need to practice and then put to the test during games. There’s no question about whether those skills are relevant, Barela said; why not replicate that model in academic classes, allowing teachers to act more like coaches who work together with students to help them improve in areas they consider important?

Students prepare to present a final project in Jeb Dickerson’s 11th-grade history class in Vista High School’s personalized-learning academy. Next year, all freshmen will take part in personalized learning. (Mike Elsen-Rooney)

Vista’s personalized-learning overhaul next year, for all of its uncertainty, is not the school’s first foray into the approach. School officials have been closely watching the progress of the pilot personalized-learning academy. It opened two years ago, with a class of about 150 students who opted into the program as juniors with the option to continue through their senior years. The same offer was made to last year’s juniors, and the opt-in program for the upperclassmen will continue while all the new freshman embark on the class-wide, personalized-learning initiative.

And while early results from the pilot academy are promising, the experiment hasn’t always been smooth.

Hernan, the skater, participated in the pilot and found the freedom in class disconcerting. He became easily distracted by having a personal Chromebook laptop at his fingertips.

“There’s times where you are like, wow, I just wasted two hours,’’ said Hernan, who once spent the better part of a class Googling “Supernovas’’ during a unit on the Big Bang theory. His grades slipped over the course of the year.

Jeb Dickerson, who teaches American history to juniors in the pilot academy, found his students growing restless while working on independent projects he’d designed to give them more freedom.

“The teachers and students wanted something different, but we were not necessarily prepared, and [the students] were definitely not prepared to make good on that,’’ said Dickerson. “The direction I’m headed [in] is more structure,’’ he said, alluding to an important lesson he’s gleaned from the experiment. “I don’t think it conflicts with the idea of giving them more ownership.”

Vista’s early trials and errors echo the experiences of many schools trying the personalized-learning approach, according to Betheny Gross, the research director at the Center for Reinventing Public Education.

“One of the risks of personalized learning is that we move away from the traditional classroom, which is a one-size-fits-all model, to a different one-size-fits-all model,’’ Gross said. “Just this new version has beanbag chairs [letting students sit anywhere they want] and computers.’’

(Vista has opted for rolling chairs that students can wheel around instead of beanbags, and every student will have a personal Chromebook.)

Principal Barela said the experience of the teachers in the pilot academy pushed him to focus more on teacher training this fall. The challenge ahead, Barela said, is to find a balance between teachers butting in to students’ work and teachers giving them free rein—that will be part of the training. Finding the right balance might also mean taking risks on topics not traditionally covered, one reason Barela was so open-minded about Hernan’s skateboarding proposal.

Kelly Humann, the PTA president and a parent of a 10th-grader, has seen personalized learning work at the magnet middle school (a selective school that admits students by application) where she’s also sent her children, but wonders how it will translate to a much larger high school where not all the students necessarily choose to be there. “We’re all worried to see how it’s going to be implemented,” she said.

But Humann said the approach, at its best, can reach students at varying academic levels in the same class. The middle-school program worked equally well for her high-achieving daughter and her son in special education, she said. And Vista High School’s personalized-learning experiment is causing parents who might typically opt for selective high schools to consider sending their kids there, Humann said. “I’m excited … a lot more kids are going to experience what my kids have experienced from the beginning.”


Vista’s experiment comes at a time when schools across the country are turning to personalized learning as something of a pushback to test-heavy instruction and as a way to prepare students for jobs of the future, said Gross of the Center for Reinventing Public Education.  “We’re coming out of a prior wave of reform that was very focused on testing,” Gross said. “We kind of lost sight of the kids in all of that.”

In addition, the low cost of technology that allows different students to work on different projects at the same time has made personalized learning an even more attractive route, Gross said.

Early data from Vista’s pilot program suggests that, for most students, the more-flexible class environment of the personalized-learning academy has been helpful. Of the first cohort of juniors, 60 percent boosted their GPAs, school officials say.

Teachers also reported a big improvement in student behavior. Barela said 70 percent of the students in the pilot academy improved their attendance, and there was only one disciplinary referral in the academy during the first cohort’s first semester. “We have so many kids who are typically on that fringe, in class regularly and participating … who felt like they belonged here,” Dickerson, the 11th-grade history teacher, said.

Teachers could also better handle disciplinary issues because they’d developed deeper relationships with students, and they were able to rely on other teachers in the academy because they shared students and had more time to collaborate with each other, said the 12th-grade history teacher Matt Stuckey.

For example, when one senior cursed at another student in the middle of a presentation, Stuckey calmly approached the student and walked outside with him while another academy teacher carried on with the class. Stuckey learned more about the conflict—the two students were longtime friends, and had gotten in a fight—and resolved it without punishing the one who’d cursed. Later, the student approached his teacher and offered a mea culpa, acknowledging that he’d lost his composure.

Dickerson believes the academy’s approach played a role. “I’d like to think, at least in theory, [that] personalized learning is about taking responsibility for oneself,” Dickerson said. If the student hadn’t been a part of the pilot personalized-learning academy, he said, the conflict “would’ve never happened that way. They’ve had a lot of time to explore themselves and their values.”

Vista’s pilot personalized-learning academy helped the school win the highly competitive XQ competition, and they have lots of ideas for what they’ll do with the money. About half of the first $2 million installment will go toward training staff, Doyle said. Teachers will get a four-hour block of time during the school day each week to meet with a small group for planning and training, Barela said.

Another $800,000 will go toward updating classrooms. The school will distribute rolling chairs and Chromebooks, as noted, and several flat-screen TVs per classroom instead of one projector, so that groups of students can project different images at the same time.

Though Barela’s immediate hope for personalized learning is to improve attendance, his plans for the next five years are more sweeping. As part of the XQ grant requirements, the school identified several performance goals. Vista committed to improving not only its graduation rate, but also students’ college readiness and state math and reading exam scores by at least five percentage points by the time the incoming freshman class reaches its senior year.

Some Vista students from the pilot academy won’t know for sure how, if at all, personalized learning changed their high-school experience. Hernan, the skater, didn’t sign up for this fall’s academy, fearing the freedom would prove too tempting and his grades would continue to slip.

But he did come away from the experience with a better sense of how he works as a student. “Whoever you are and how you work with others and with yourself,” he said, “that’s basically what it all comes back down to.”

Hernan plans to dedicate his senior year to working on a skateboard apparel company called Brofu that he founded with some friends. He’ll take courses in graphic design and photography offered through the school’s vocational-tech program to get better at designing clothes and digital marketing, while sticking with more structured classes for his core academic subjects.

And even though Hernan won’t be in personalized-learning classes anymore, Principal Barela thinks Hernan’s experience wasn’t in vain. ”For me, that’s a total win,’’ Barela said. “He’s taking an active role in his learning. Fantastic.”

Do those who abused Oxford student for solving JEE paper need to get their IQ checked?

The violent reaction to a third-year UK university student ’s online post that he “ breezed” through a Joint Entrance Exam or JEE question paper (entrance test for engineering colleges in India), in “a third of the allowed time, and with 100% correct answers,” leaves no doubt that the cyber world is overpopulated by creatures with a singular lack of intelligence.

Jack Fraser, a third-year physics student at a top university in the UK, was at the receiving end of vicious online harassment after he reportedly solved the JEE paper on being requested on the online question and answer platform Quora to solve it.

Fraser had taken pains to explain that he was a third-year student attempting the paper “for a laugh” as it was meant for 17-year-old students much younger than him, straight out of schools. So those who hit back at him obviously did not comprehend English or simply did not have the IQ to understand what he meant.

The JEE is just an exam for entrance to engineering colleges in India. Period. Does it spoil some vast eternal plan if it’s solved in 30 minutes instead of three hours?

Those who hit back at the third-year student of physics in a top college in UK obviously did not comprehend English or simply did not have the IQ to understand what he meant.

Anyone personally affronted by someone else simply solving a question paper of an exam (no matter how important) should be seriously worried about his or her health and take an appointment with a psychologist to pinpoint the reason for this misplaced outrage.

They can also join nursery classes to relearn English, develop a sense of humour to take things lightly and try not to get offended by harmless Quora posts – especially ones not intended to offend.

Also, those who issue death threats or send out obscene pictures to others expose themselves in more ways than one. They make it evident that theirs is a sad, dark little world which has robbed them completely of the ability to think, behave or understand the consequence of their actions.

UGC revises qualifying criteria for NET exam

Changes have been introduced by the University Grants Commission (UGC) in the qualifying criteria of the UGC NET (National Eligibility Test). The test, which determines the eligibility of candidates for assistant professor or junior research fellowship in Indian universities and colleges, will take place in October this year. Earlier CBSE had said the exam will take place in November.

According to a statement issued by UGC earlier qualifying criteria for UGC-NET Exam involved qualifying top 15% of those candidates in each subject and category, who obtained the minimum required marks in paper-I, paper-II and paper-III according to the category of the candidates. “Subsequent to the orders of the High Court of Kerala, University Grants Commission had revised the procedure and criteria of qualifying candidates and as such it has been decided that 6% of the total candidates who appear in the UGC-NET examination will be declared qualified”.

However, UGC maintained that as such the number of candidates who would qualify in the future NET examinations is likely to increase. In June 2015 UGC-NET 4.83% had qualified out of those who appeared, in December 2015 4.96%, July 2016 it was 4.08%, January this year 3.99% and in future it will be 6%.

TN to appeal against Madras HC order to not reserve MBBS, BDS seats for state board students

Chennai The Tamil Nadu government will appeal against Friday’s Madras High Court’s (HC) decision to quash the Tamil Nadu government order to reserve 85% medical (MBBS) and dental (BDS) seats in undergraduate colleges for state board students. The admissions are being done on the basis of scores of a common entrance test, National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET).

State health minister C Vijayabaskar said the government would appeal against the single judge order . His government was opposed to NEET to protect the interests of the students from Tamil Nadu and that was why reservation was notified. “We are still against NEET and our bills are awaiting assent of the President,” he said.

The state government had through a notification rolled out the reservations last month. A mention of the same was made in the brochures issued for admissions to various undergraduate medical courses in state colleges.

The Madras High Court has reportedly quashed a Tamil Nadu government order reserving 85% of MBBS and BDS seats for state board students

Disposing of a petition challenging the June 22 notification of the state government filed by a minor, C Darnish Kumar, a CBSE student, Justice K Ravichandra Babu directed the medical colleges to consider the petitioner for all the seats available for undergraduate courses in medicine in the state for the academic year 2017-18.

The petitioner had challenged the notification saying that only the Medical Council of India (MCI) had the power to regulate medical college admissions as per the provisions of the Indian Medical Council Act. The MCI had stipulated that admissions to medical courses would be based on the marks obtained in NEET and merit lists prepared on the basis of such marks and that it did not distinguish between students from CBSE and the state board.

Justice Ravichandra Babu held that the impugned reservation was bad in law and violated Art 14 of the Constitution (Equality before law). He also held that the reservation indirectly meddled with the object and process of the NEET and compromised on merits of selection.

The judge directed authorities to prepare a fresh merit list and conduct the counselling for admissions accordingly.

The state government has not been in favour of NEET. It had submitted to the court that two of its bills, passed in the state assembly exempting students from NEET, were pending with the President for assent. The advocate general (AG) of Tamil Nadu also told the HC that 88,431 students appeared for NEET, out of which only 4,675 were from CBSE. “Since NEET is the basis of admission, to ensure fair and equal opportunity to candidates from different boards, such reservation is provided in the seats available in the State quota,” the AG said.

Justice Reddy refused to accept the state government pleas and quashed the notification providing for reservations to Tamil Nadu board students in medical college undergraduate courses.