In an unprecedented move, the Tamil Nadu government, headed by Chief Minister M K Stalin, has introduced a bill seeking exemption for its students from the centralised medical entrance exam-NEET 2021, on September 13. The Bill also provides for 7.5% horizontal reservation for the students of government schools in medical admission.
The bill focuses to dispense NEET and allow admission to medical courses based on Class 12 marks to ensure, what the government calls, “Social justice”. The Bill has challenged a central law and will make a difference only with the Presidential assent.
The tabling of the bill by the DMK government comes a day after the sad demise of a 19-year old aspirant, Dhanush, who had allegedly died of suicide fearing failure in his third attempt taking the NEET exam. While the main opposition AIADMK blamed the DMK regime for his death, Stalin targeted the Centre for being “obstinate” on the matter. In the last few years, 14 others had died after failing to crack the national level NEET exam.
The chief minister had on June 5 constituted a high-level committee headed by retired justice AK Rajan to study the impact of NEET. The report was submitted to the government in July, and based on the findings of the panel, the government has recommended the immediate elimination of NEET. According to the government, the committee’s report reveals that NEET favours students from affluent families, thwarting the dream of pursuing medical education by the underprivileged social groups. NEET doesn’t ensure merit or standard. It only empowered low-performing students to get admission into MBBS and that the state’s healthcare system will be badly affected without enough doctors at the Primary Health Centres if NEET continues, it report added.
However, to ensure that students from across all social and economic backgrounds stand a chance to become doctors, the central government has already introduced reservation for EWS and OBC candidates, in addition to existing reservation for SC, ST candidates.
What the state government forgets is that tests like NEET and JEE are itself standardised national tests which are designed to cater students from all boards having different syllabus. Moreover, to solve the problem of intense stress of the NEET exam on the students, the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health were already looking at options of holding NEET multiple times a year, but the Tamil Nadu government’s new bill will completely disrupt medical admissions this year.
The alternative admission route is yet to be finalised, but the introduction of the bill surely finalises the opposition to NEET by the DMK government.
While all other parties, including the main opposition AIADMK and its ally PMK, supported the bill, the BJP, however, made the right decision and staged a walkout, protesting against it.