The Tamil Nadu Assembly on Monday passed a Bill to scrap the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test for admission to undergraduate medical degree courses in the state, PTI reported.
The Bill sought to admit students to these courses based on the marks they got in the Class 12 board examinations. Earlier, admissions in Tamil Nadu were based on these marks, but the Centre in 2017 made NEET compulsory for students across all states and education boards.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin introduced the Bill a day after a 19-year-old student from Salem district, who was supposed to sit for the exam, died allegedly by suicide, The Hindu reported.
During Monday’s proceedings, all parties, including the Opposition All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, its ally Pattali Makkal Katchi and the Congress, supported the Bill. Members of the Bharatiya Janata Party opposed it and walked out of the Assembly.
The chief minister said that the state’s higher secondary syllabus was of “sufficient standard” and the Bill aimed to ensure social justice, according to The Times of India.
Scrapping NEET was one of the key promises of Stalin’s party, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, ahead of the Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu that were in April.
NEET was prepared by the Central Board of Secondary Education and based on its own syllabus, which was very different from the Tamil Nadu board’s syllabus. For this reason, Tamil Nadu has been opposing the examination, arguing that a common entrance test would harm the prospects of state board students.
In June this year, the DMK had set up a high-level committee led by retired Madras High Court Judge AK Rajan to study the impact of NEET on aspirants from socially disadvantaged sections of society.
Stalin, citing the committee’s findings, on Monday said NEET “clearly undermined the diverse societal representation in MBBS and higher medical studies”, The New Indian Express reported.
Stalin added that the committee found that NEET favoured “mainly the affordable and affluent segment of the society while equally thwarting the dream of pursuing medical education by the underprivileged social groups”.
The student’s death
The student died on Sunday, just hours before the NEET examination. He had failed to clear the test twice before.
“There is no suicide note, but circumstantial evidence points to suicide due to exam fear as he has failed twice in the past and couldn’t get a medical admission,” an unidentified police officer told the Hindustan Times.
The officer claimed that the student was under pressure as his family had been compelling him to clear the exam.
On Sunday, BJP Tamil Nadu chief Annamalai had blamed the state government for the student’s death. “This exam has passed the Supreme Court scrutiny and in 2020, had seen the highest number of Tamil students passing,” Tamil Nadu BJP chief K Annamalai tweeted. “The DMK which is playing politics with NEET is directly responsible for his death.”