Why Tamil Nadu opposes NEET

Last Updated: Mon, Mar 20, 2017 13:28 hrs
Why Tamil Nadu opposes NEET

(Image tweeted by @imlucky151)

Controversies surrounding the NEET exam continue this year. The exam, which is to be held in May this year, has been mandatory by the centre for entrance into all medical and dental colleges. However opposition continues from Tamil Nadu government.

India.com has a list of controversies surrounding the exam. There has been disagreement to the age limits imposed on appearing for the exam. As of now only students between 17-25 years of age can give the exam and they are allowed only three attempts. The medium of instruction was also an issue but now, several regional languages have been included. However, many students have missed the deadline for application as some states oppose the NEET. This is the case in Tamil Nadu as the government hopes it will find a way out.

States like Tamil Nadu have opposed the NEET exam stating that the students from the CBSE board will be at an advantage, while the students taking the exam from the state board will face difficulty. 

The Tamil Nadu government has been consistently lobbying the centre in this regard. NDTV reported that it was in fact one of the first bills that was passed by the Assembly after the political turmoil in the state died down and Eddapadi Palaniswamy was sworn in as Chief Minister and won the confidence motion. The bills which sought to exempt students from the state to the exam were sent to the President for his approval. The Ministers for Health and Higher Education, C.Vijaya Baskar and K.P Anbalagan met with Union Ministers Prakash Javadekar and J P Nadda.

As the exam dates are nearing, we talked to the Union ministers about the hardship Tamil Nadu students would undergo because of the NEET," K P Anbalagan to reporters here. Tamil Nadu assembly has already passed a bill to exclude the students of the state from the All India Examination. "We requested the Union ministers to expedite the process of getting the President's assent for the legislation," Mr. Anbalagan added.

Private colleges had no choice but to comply to NEET last year are apprehensive and feel that they may lose privileges that come with being a minority institution. According to The Hindu there are 16 self financing colleges which contribute 350 seats to the state’s pool. Admissions for these alone are through the counselling. However, under the proposed system all the seats would have to be surrendered.

Sunil Chandy, director of Christian Medical College Vellore, has written to alumni informing them that the college would have to surrender all its seats to be filled with government counselling. He goes on to assure them that the institution would take all steps to preserve its autonomy and is expecting “a long drawn and expensive legal battle.”

This would mean that colleges cannot use the management quota where exorbitant fees are charged. The colleges say that they need this money to maintain the infrastructure for students and if all seats are to be filled through counselling, the government must compensate them.

From the point of view of the state’s students, many feel that CBSE students will be at an advantage. Deccan Chronicle reports that several educationists have opposed NEET on these grounds. S.S. Rajagopal said -

The students from CBSE schools are not able to prepare for the competitive exams based on their classroom coaching alone. Those who attend the coaching classes alone are able to clear the entrance exams like JEE and Neet. So, we do not need exams like Neet for our state, P.B Prince Gajendra Babu who is General Secretary of the State Platform for Common School System said that most of these coaching centres charge exorbitant fees which most students cannot afford. He also said that although the exam would be conducted in various regional languages, materials for preparation in those languages are not available.

Adarsh Jain writes in Times of India that rural students are certainly the underdogs in this situation. A teacher in Pollachi was quoted as saying –

Most rural students study in government and government-aided schools. And, nearly all of them have no experience in writing competitive exams. The state government neither has the money nor the manpower to provide training. And, private coaching centres are beyond affordability

Puthiya Thalaimurai interviewed Justice Rajan who said that the centre cannot regulate education in the state and these powers lie solely with the state government. He also said that if the President does not give his assent to the bills exempting the state’s colleges from NEET, the only option would be for individual colleges and universities to approach the High Court and plead that the centre is infringing on the state’s rights.

However Justice Chandru differs and opines that the state can do little to prevent the implementation of NEET. The Supreme Court’s ruling last year only provided exemption for a year. He told the Times of India

Medical education does not come under the concurrent list. It falls under the central list referable to entry 66, where Parliament has made a law, subsequent to the constitutional bench judgment of the Supreme Court on NEET. As such, the apex court ruling makes NEET mandatory with effect from 2011. However, heeding to requests from states like TN, a law was made in 2016 granting one year exemption for MBBS admissions in government colleges alone.

Most political parties, including the DMK and PMK, are opposed to NEET.

PMK leader Dr.Anbumani Ramadoss questioned the rationale of requiring a common entrance solely for medical courses and wondered why the same was not proposed for other professional courses. In an interview to DT Next,

Pointing out that only 15 per cent of rural students managed to get medical seats when there was entrance exam in the State, he said the same admission rate increased to 65 per cent after the scrapping of the entrance exam. “We are exploring the legal ways of how to tackle the issue.” Anbumani said.

The Madras High Court which is currently hearing a case related to the matter will have its next hearing in April.

Justice Kirubakaran has sought various details from the Medical Council of India, the government and the Health Secretary of the central government to provide more clarity on the issue.

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