Explained: Why Tamil Nadu is Opposing NEET

·4-min read

It is mandatory to have passed the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for medical college admissions across India. The Tamil Nadu government claims that NEET is a centralised exam and is conducted only on a single day. Thus, this puts an enormous amount of pressure on the students, especially those from the rural parts. Medical aspirants have only one entrance exam for centre and state-level college admissions. Whereas, engineering candidates have both central and state-level exams.

Earlier, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) in Tamil Nadu has alleged that the rural and poor students are being affected by the NEET and scraping NEET from Tamil Nadu was one of their poll promises. Subsequently, after the MK Stalin-led DMK government came into power, a panel headed by retired justice AK Rajan was set up to study the implications of the NEET examination on aspirants from the socially backward sections in medical admissions in Tamil Nadu.

The team conducted a state-wide survey and filed a report titled ‘Impact of NEET on Medical Admissions in Tamil Nadu’. In this context, in a series of Assembly sessions, a bill has been passed in the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly calling for the cancellation of the medical entrance exam. The 165-page report of the AK Rajan Committee that was submitted to the state government was released on September 20 by the TN government.

The report said the state government can immediately take legal action to cancel the exam. A separate law can be enacted to repeal the NEET and obtain the approval of the President of India. The enactment of the NEET Cancellation Act will ensure social justice for the vulnerable student communities in admission to medical studies.

“There is a prohibition for the Central government to establish and regulate Universities. Only the state governments have the power to do that. According to the legal amendment brought in 2007, NEET can be exempted from the examination. Modern Dental College decision came in 2016, in that, the Supreme Court justice bench consisting of five judges cleared that entry 66 lists and does not include an admission of students into universities. It comes only under entry 25”, Retired Justice AK Rajan told News18.com.

Admission of medical students must be conducted on the basis of Class 12 marks, says the govt. The qualifying exam will take the state back to pre-independence days and the state government wants to eliminate it at all levels by following the required legal procedures. It also said the enrollment of rural students in medical education has been declining since the introduction of the NEET and there will not be enough doctors in the rural hospitals if the NEET exam continues.

Ultimately, the healthcare system of Tamil Nadu will be affected badly. Following the implementation of NEET, in the last four years, there has been an average decline of 11.2 percent share of medical admission among the crucial social categories in the state, the report said.

Apparently, the preamble of the Bill to scrape NEET, which was passed in the Tamil Nadu Assembly pointed out the NEET favored the rich and elite sections of the society and not the weaker sections.

Recently, over a week’s time, three NEET aspirants in TN died by suicide over the fear of the medical entrance examination. This is not the first sequence of students suicides that Tamil Nadu has seen. Last year in September, five students died by suicide in the state just days before the exam was to be held amid the Covid-19 crisis.

For the last few years, students, parents, teachers, and political parties in TN have been protesting to scrape the examination. The Madras High Court in 2020 also stated the NEET exam is discriminatory for poor students from the state. Soon after the declaration of the NEET 2019 result, two students committed suicide.

Ariyalur Anitha studied in a Tamil Medium school and was amongst the toppers in her district. She was the only student in Ariyalur district to score 100 percent marks in Math and Physics in the 12th standard board exam. It was on September 1, 2017, she died by suicide that created a major controversy in the state.

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