Article by Sneha Singh

In a historic move, Tamil Nadu Assembly unanimously passed the bill against the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) on January 8. This bill was readopted by the assembly even as the state governor returned it last week. All parties including AIADMK supported the bill, however BJP MLAs staged a walkout.

We all joined together not just to discuss NEET but to safeguard federalism, democracy, defend the right of the state Assembly and win over the educational right. Till we win, we will not give up this fight against NEET

MK Stalin, Tamil Nadu CM

Tamil Nadu vs Centre albeit NEET

Until 2017, Tamil Nadu evaluated the 12th standard mark sheet for admitting students in medical colleges. It all began after a significant ruling by the Supreme court, and NEET became compulsory across India to get admission into any medical, dental or AYUSH institutions. 

Parties from Tamil Nadu argue that NEET hampers the chances of economically weaker aspirants as they have to fight for seats with more wealthy students residing in metropolitan areas. 

The protest accelerated in September 2017 when a candidate from SC/ST community, S Anitha, committed suicide after Supreme Court rejected Tamil Nadu’s proposal to grant exemption from NEET. 

In 2020, the AIADMK government ruling Tamil Nadu had reserved 7.5% seats for students coming from government schools after clearing NEET. 

Whereas, DMK which came into power in May 2021, has been actively opposing NEET on several platforms. Not only this, to add the crunch in the election campaigns, it added exempting Tamil Nadu from NEET as one of its pre-poll promises. 

This is the first time in the history of the state legislature that the cabinet readopted the exact draft of the bill. On Tuesday, the state government called for a special sitting at Fort St George.

Meanwhile, the issue also echoed in parliament. DMK and the Congress MPs from Tamil Nadu walked out of the lower house on February 4th to express their displeasure against the governer RN Ravi’s decision to return a bill granting exemption to all the state’s medical aspirants.

Retired Justice AK Rajan Committee report says NEET has led to exclusion of Tamil Medium students and those belonging to socially backward classes from the medical education system.

On the other hand, RN Ravi added that the report merely demonstrates a jaundiced view. He stated the information concludes NEET as pointless anti-merit and had added it paved the route for inadequately skilled candidates who were financially and socially assertive. 

He returned the bill for rethinking to the house and remarked that the Assembly required to reflect on these problems. 

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