The Daily Fix

The Daily Fix: By forcing NEET on Tamil Nadu, Centre is homogenising India’s education system

Everything you need to know for the day (and a little more).

The Big Story: Undermining autonomy

Protests have erupted across Tamil Nadu since Friday, after a 17-year-old girl in Ariyalur named Anitha committed suicide, ostensibly because she failed to secure a medical seat despite scoring close to 98% in her higher secondary school examinations. Days before her death, Anitha, a Dalit student, had joined a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test or NEET, the common medical entrance examination against which students have now taken to the streets. But the petition asking for Tamil Nadu to be exempted from NEET was rejected.

The question haunting Tamil Nadu is this: How did a student who obtained such high scores in the state board examinations fail to secure a medical seat to pursue her dreams? Anitha’s socio-economic background has added to the sheer tragedy of the incident. Her father is a daily-wage labourer and she helped the family out by selling vegetables in the local market.

Tamil Nadu is perhaps the only state in the country that continues to oppose NEET. The reasons are not difficult to understand. With a Gross Enrollment Ratio of over 43%, which is much higher than the national average of 24%, the state boasts of a higher education infrastructure that has access as its primary agenda. This attempt to open up higher education to all residents prompted Tamil Nadu to abolish entrance examinations to medical and technical education institutions in 2005.

However, the Centre’s attempt to homogenise the education structure across the country is robbing Tamil Nadu of its uniqueness. From being a pioneer in the education sector, the state is now being accused of promoting mediocrity through its state board syllabus, which some in the Bharatiya Janata Party have claimed is not on par with the high standards of the Central Board of Secondary Education’s syllabus. The CBSE conducts NEET. Had education training in Tamil Nadu been better, critics argue, there would be no reason for students like Anitha to resist NEET.

This simplistic argument ignores the multi-layered problems in a centralised system like NEET. Thousands of students like Anitha were asked to prepare for an entrance examination based on CBSE syllabus at short notice this year. Students in rural areas, especially those from marginal backgrounds, cannot afford costly coaching classes, putting them at a disadvantage. NEET has essentially rendered irrelevant the state board syllabus as there is no value attached to a student’s performance in class 12 examinations. Before 2005, the eligibility examination Tamil Nadu conducted for medical seats had a formula where both class 12 marks and the entrance scores were balanced to arrive at the cut-off marks. This kind of an arrangement has been lacking in NEET, which is likely to turn into a IIT-JEE type examination that requires enormous resources to crack.

In a way, examinations like NEET are an attempt to move towards a single board set up for the entire country, whereby the Centre becomes the only source of school education syllabus, a potent tool to shape young minds. This is a serious erosion of the ability of states to frame their own policies for education, a subject in the concurrent list in the Constitution.

The Big Scroll

  • Did NEET, in the garb of promoting merit, end up killing Anitha? Shreya Roy Chowdhury writes on the problems in the medical entrance examination. 


  1. Praveen Swami in The Indian Express on why the world will have to live with the reality that North Korea is now a nuclear power. 
  2. Shiv Viswanathan in The Hindu on how India has undermined its own moral position by trying to deport Rohingyas facing persecution in Myanmar.
  3. In the Hindustan Times, Shaibal Gupta says Muslim-Yadav consolidation will help Nitish Kumar forge a coalition of extremes in Bihar. 


Don’t miss

Dhirendra K Jha reports on the Congress’s strategies in Gujarat, which will go to polls later this year.

“In past elections, the Sangh Parivar’s micro-level mobilisers, called panna pramukhs, are said to have played a key role in the BJP’s victory in Gujarat, a state the party has ruled uninterrupted since 1998.

The panna pramukh strategy is considered the brainchild of BJP president Amit Shah. It is also said to have been used in parts of Uttar Pradeshduring the 2014 Lok Sabha election.

A panna literally means a page – and in this case, a page in the electoral rolls. A pramukh is a person in charge of that page. Each page in the voters’ list has the names of around 60 voters, usually belonging to eight to 12 families. There are roughly 1,000 voters in every booth. Panna pramukhs are asked to focus only on families listed on the page assigned to them.”

We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

Children's Day is not for children alone

It’s also a time for adults to revisit their childhood.

Most adults look at childhood wistfully, as a time when the biggest worry was a scraped knee, every adult was a source of chocolate and every fight lasted only till the next playtime. Since time immemorial, children seem to have nailed the art of being joyful, and adults can learn a thing or two about stress-free living from them. Now it’s that time of the year again when children are celebrated for...simply being children, and let it serve as a timely reminder for adults to board that imaginary time machine and revisit their childhood. If you’re unable to unbuckle yourself from your adult seat, here is some inspiration.

Start small, by doodling at the back page of your to-do diary as a throwback to that ancient school tradition. If you’re more confident, you could even start your own comic strip featuring people in your lives. You can caricaturise them or attribute them animal personalities for the sake of humour. Stuck in a boring meeting? Draw your boss with mouse ears or your coffee with radioactive powers. Just make sure you give your colleagues aliases.

Pull a prank, those not resulting in revenue losses of course. Prank calls, creeping up behind someone…pull them out from your memory and watch as everyone has a good laugh. Dress up a little quirky for work. It’s time you tried those colourful ties, or tastefully mismatched socks. Dress as your favourite cartoon characters someday – it’s as easy as choosing a ponytail-style, drawing a scar on your forehead or converting a bath towel into a cape. Even dinner can be full of childish fun. No, you don’t have to eat spinach if you don’t like it. Use the available cutlery and bust out your favourite tunes. Spoons and forks are good enough for any beat and for the rest, count on your voice to belt out any pitch. Better yet, stream the classic cartoons of your childhood instead of binge watching drama or news; they seem even funnier as an adult. If you prefer reading before bedtime, do a reread of your favourite childhood book(s). You’ll be surprised by their timeless wisdom.

A regular day has scope for childhood indulgences in every nook and cranny. While walking down a lane, challenge your friend to a non-stop game of hopscotch till the end of the tiled footpath. If you’re of a petite frame, insist on a ride in the trolley as you about picking items in the supermarket. Challenge your fellow gym goers and trainers to a hula hoop routine, and beat ‘em to it!

Children have an incredible ability to be completely immersed in the moment during play, and acting like one benefits adults too. Just count the moments of precious laughter you will have added to your day in the process. So, take time to indulge yourself and celebrate life with child-like abandon, as the video below shows.


This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of SBI Life and not by the Scroll editorial team.