- GS-2: Issues relating to development and management of Education
- GS-2: Issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure
Tamil Nadu’s case against NEET
Context: Recently, Tamil Nadu Assembly has passed a bill to exempt students of the state from appearing in the NEET for admissions into medical and dental courses
What Is National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET)?
- It is an entrance exam for medical courses like MBBS, BDS, and Post Graduation in both government and private medical colleges.
- In 2013, NEET-UG replaced the All India Pre Medical Test (AIPMT) and all individual MBBS exams conducted by states or colleges themselves.
- The NTA – National Testing Agency, the regulatory body for NEET UG Exam, conducts it every year in various parts of India in multiple languages.
- The responsibility of the NTA is limited to
- Conduct of the entrance examination
- Declaration of result and for providing an “All India Rank Merit List” to the Government of India for the conduct of counselling for 15% All India Quota Seats
- Providing the result to States/other Counselling Authorities.
- NEET is based on a core curriculum approach, whereby the syllabi of all the school boards have been taken into consideration.
- NEET has become the only means of gaining admission to medical institutions, including private colleges, after the Supreme Court’s categorical view that such a test alone could help maintain standards.
Why Tamil Nadu is opposing NEET?
- In Tamil Nadu, NEET has been a sensitive subject where several students have allegedly died by suicide over the years after failing to qualify for the exam.
- One of the primary arguments by Tamil Nadu is that NEET would push certain categories of students out of the race for MBBS degrees, and its goal of providing equitable opportunities for all would be frustrated.
- Students from government schools and rural areas would not be able to afford the coaching that would be essential for the competitive test, the State government argued.
What is the context of the recent bill?
- What sparked an uproar and led to the Bill was the death of a 19-year old boy who died by suicide, hours before he was supposed to take the NEET exam for the third time.
- This is not Tamil Nadu’s first attempt to get exemption from the exam; an effort was made in 2017 through ordinance but didn’t get President’s nod.
- President’s assent is required as the proposed State law is in conflict with the parliamentary legislation regulating medical admissions.
- Abolition of NEET was even the election promise of the current ruling party.
- The recent Tamil Nadu Admission to Undergraduate Medical Degree Courses Bill, 2021 is based on A.K. Rajan Committee observations on NEET.
- The committee viewed that NEET would adversely affect the rural and urban poor, and consequently, hurt State’s future manpower availability to run its network of primary health centres.
- 2021 law exempt students of the state from appearing in the NEET for admissions into medical and dental courses. Tamil Nadu government wants entrance to happen on the basis of marks obtained in Class 12.
- However, it will be quite difficult for the Union government to grant relief to one State alone in the face of Supreme Court judgement on NEET (mandatory to help maintain standards). It might meet the same fate as that of 2017 bill.
- Need for Dispassionate Debate: The anti-NEET narrative in Tamil Nadu should not be viewed as a product of Tamil exclusivism but should be deliberated in dispassionate manner.
- Need for reviewing NEET: The time may also have come to examine whether NEET has met its purposes of improving standards and curbing commercialisation and profiteering.
- Balancing interests: Centre has to conceive a better system that will allow a fair admission process while preserving inter se merit and preventing rampant commercialisation.
Connecting the dots: