After enacting a law to restore Jallikattu which had been banned by the Supreme Court, the Tamil Nadu government is set to take up another major issue – the entrance procedure to medical colleges that concerns the future of many school leaving students of the state.
The state government maintains that the common medical entrance test - the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) that pits the Tamil medium students in Tamil Nadu and first generation learners in direct competition with others from rest of the country and puts them at a disadvantage. And that is reason enough why the government wants to do away with the exam altogether.
Late chief minister J Jayalalithaa had strongly opposed the NEET which was sought to be introduced in the last academic year. The Centre had promulgated an ordinance last year to exclude Tamil Nadu from the common entrance exam, but this academic year, all students seeking admission to medical colleges must pass the NEET.
The Tamil Nadu government is clearly in a hurry to do away with the NEET. On Tuesday, it tabled a bill in the Assembly to remove the NEET for admission to medical colleges in Tamil Nadu.
Sate minister for health and family welfare, C Vijayabaskar, tabled the bill for circumventing the NEET which was mandated by the Supreme Court last year.
The Tamil Nadu government at present admits students in medical colleges in the state on the basis of the basis of their marks in the 12th standard examination. But the SC order mandated admissions to medical colleges in the 2017 academic session be done only if the candidate passes the NEET.
The bill which has the support of the entire political class in the state, seeks to negate the SC order and bypass the need for NEET.
“The bulk of the students of the State who would appear for the NEET come from rural areas and facilities for them to access coaching classes to equip themselves for the said examination are not available and also due to paucity of funds and poor economic condition in which those students live,” the Minister said introducing the bill.
“A separate entrance examination to get admitted to higher level course will be an additional burden on students,” the minister said after tabling the bill. He made out a case for passing the bill opposing NEET and doing away with it in Tamil Nadu, as the syllabus of CBSE Secondary school students was different from the one followed by the students of the Board of Higher Secondary Examination in Tamil Nadu.
Leader of opposition, MK Stalin who is also the working president of the DMK, had recently demanded that the government come out with a bill on the NEET in the current Assembly session itself as the academic year gets closer.
In fact, the moment Jayalalithaa won her re-election in May 2016, her first letter to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi was to thank him for issuing an Ordinance that exempted Tamil Nadu students from the NEET.
In her letter, she argued a case for a permanent solution to the issue. “While the Ordinance would temporarily address the issue for the current year, Tamil Nadu’s situation is distinct and different from other States,” Jayalalithaa said.
The Tamil Nadu government has taken a number of steps, starting from 2005 towards systematizing the admission process to medical colleges. It also abolished entrance examinations for professional undergraduate courses in the state, by enacting the Tamil Nadu Admission in Professional Educational Institutions Act, 2006.
This measure was taken keeping in view the interests of students, particularly from the weaker sections and rural areas, to ensure that a level playing field is created, Jayalalithaa had said.
This continues to be the stand of the state government, which is now seeking to arm itself with the bill to continue with its own policy and procedures for admission to state-run medical colleges.