The Tamil Nadu Assembly today passed the Tamil Nadu Admission to Undergraduate Medical Degree Courses Bill which seeks to stop medical admissions on the basis of the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for students of the state. Now, all medical admissions in the state will be based on marks obtained by students in Class 12. All parties, except the BJP, supported the Bill.
While introducing the Bill, Chief Minister MK Stalin said, "The state is empowered to regulate medical admission according to the Constitution's Schedule VIII, List III and Entry 25. As a result of this government's and other parties' legal struggle in the state, we scripted history by getting 27% reservation for OBCs in all India quotas. In the NEET issue too, MLAs of all parties should help pass the Bill unanimously to script history in social justice."
The Bill challenged a central law and will make a difference only with the Presidential assent.
The chief minister had on June 5 constituted a high-level committee headed by retired justice AK Rajan to study the impact of NEET and the mushrooming coaching centres. Based on the findings of the panel, the government recommended the immediate elimination of NEET.
The committee, according to the government, has said NEET favours only the rich and the elite sections, equally thwarting the dream of pursuing medical education by the underprivileged social groups.
NEET has affected the rural and urban-poor students from government and Tamil-medium schools, particularly those whose families earn less than Rs 2.5 lakh a year, the committee said.
NEET doesn't ensure merit or standard. It only empowered low-performing students to get admission into MBBS and that the state's healthcare system will be badly affected without enough doctors at the Primary Health Centres if NEET continues, it further said.
For nearly a decade, Tamil Nadu had no entrance examination for medical admissions. During the UPA regime, its ally - the DMK - had managed to get the Presidential assent for exemption.
However, the AIADMK government could not get the same exemption from its ally - the BJP. The Supreme Court, too, had ruled in favour of staying the NEET.
Dr Vijayabhaskar, AIADMK MLA and former state health minister, said, "We are supporting this. Let's see if this strategy works."
The state government banks on compelling data, sources told NDTV.
A study of medical admissions four years before and after NEET shows nearly a 10-time dip in state board students securing medical admission, from 380 to just around 40. But there is an exponential rise in CBSE students making it, from a mere three to over 200, almost a 70-time high. A large majority of them had taken private tuition to crack the test. A large percentage of candidates cracked NEET after preparing for two to four years.
It is a first-of-its-kind study on the impact of NEET in medical admissions through the prism of social justice, economic backwardness beyond reservations.
Chief Minister MK Stalin hopes these findings will get the support of the Supreme Court and other Chief Ministers as well. Irrespective of the outcome, NEET will remain in Tamil Nadu at least for medical admissions this year.
On Sunday, hours before taking the NEET for the third time, 19-year-old aspirant Dhanush died by suicide. 14 others, including some toppers, have died in the last few years after failing to crack the NEET.