NEET or the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test, formerly the All India Pre-Medical Test (AIPMT), is an all India pre-medical entrance test for students who wish to pursue undergraduate medical courses in government and private institutions in India and abroad.
However, after the enactment of NMC Act 2019 in September 2019, NEET-UG became the sole entrance test for admissions to medical colleges in India. Before NEET (UG) was implemented nationwide, states and some prestigious medical colleges like AIIMS, JIPMER, IMS-BHU, KMC, and CMC Vellore conducted their own entrance exams.
Meanwhile, a 19-year-old NEET aspirant was found dead in his home on Sunday in Tamil Nadu’s Salem district ahead of the Medical Entrance Exam NEET. This sparked a political controversy with opposition parties blaming the ruling DMK for not exempting the state from the test.
NEET was introduced in Tamil Nadu during the UPA regime when Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) was part of it. The then Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi had managed exempt the state from NEET after getting presidential approval. However, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) government could not get a similar exemption from its BJP ally when it came to power, even though the state assembly had passed a Bill against NEET.
Before NEET, Tamil Nadu considered class 12 board exam marks for admissions to private and government medical colleges. Therefore, following a Supreme Court ruling, NEET became a reality in 2017 in Tamil Nadu which had availed an exemption successfully until then. However, the state had abolished NEET exams for nearly a decade, saying it favours affluent as even brilliant poor students and those in rural areas are unable to afford private coaching.
Like any other exam, NEET too is marred by the tragedy of students dying by suicide. Over the last few years, 15 medical aspirants have died by suicide in the state.
A Dalit teenager, S Anitha, died by suicide in 2017 after failing in NEET, although she was a school topper with 98%. Her death led to widespread protests across the state. On 22 August 2017, the Supreme Court did not give Tamil Nadu an exemption from NEET in a case in which Anitha had impleaded herself.
Many voices in the state have opposed NEET and argued that the exam has not led to more deserving students but has only helped the mushrooming of private centres charging exorbitant fees.
Tamil Nadu has been offering free coaching to government and government-aided school students to prepare for NEET. Those for it say that while the rest of the country has taken up NEET, Tamil Nadu has to help its poor and rural students by giving them the right resources.
However, the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin appealed to the students to not lose hope and that the government will bring a bill against NEET on Monday. The bill will seek the President’s assent to exempt Tamil Nadu from NEET.
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