Chennai: A day after appearing for the National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET), an 18-year-old medical aspirant in Ariyalur district in central Tamil Nadu ended her life triggering a fresh political row over the entrance test.
Political parties in Tamil Nadu, barring the BJP, have opposed NEET ever since it was conceived. Only on Monday, the Legislative Assembly had passed a Bill to dispense with NEET and admit students to MBBS and BDS courses based on their marks in class 12. The Bill was sent to the Governor on Tuesday. Incidentally, in 2017 the then AIADMK Government had passed similar Bills but the President did not grant assent for the same.
On Tuesday, a girl named Kanimozhi was found dead. Her father, coincidentally named Karunanidhi, [just as the famed DMK father-daughter] told journalists that she was upset that she did not do the NEET well as she found the Physics and Chemistry questions tough.
Only on Sunday did two other NEET aspirants had ended their lives in Namakkal and Vellore.
Suicides by students, who happened to be medical aspirants, have rocked Tamil Nadu since the death of Anitha in 2017 with politicians turning it into an emotional issue. For nearly a decade in the pre-NEET era, in Tamil Nadu students were admitted to professional courses sans any common entrance test.
Though Anitha was an exceptionally talented girl, who would have got admitted to a medical college based on her high scores in Class 12 had there been no NEET, the same could not be said of the other medical aspirants, numbering around 10 or so, as their school scores were low. In the case of Kanimozhi, she had got a good score in class 12 for which no Board exams were held due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Backward Classes Minister S.S. Sivasankar, and AIADMK leader Thamarai S. Rajendran, were among those who paid their last respects to Kanimozhi on Tuesday.
Having been at the receiving end of political attacks over such suicides during his tenure, former Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami lost no time in assailing the DMK Government. The DMK, he said, should “stop doing its political drama and watching” the loss of lives of students.
Chief Minister M K Stalin, however, said his Government will not compromise on its promise of dispensing with NEET and said it will strive hard to obtain Presidential assent for the Bill.
Insisting that NEET was not a determinant of merit, he said the entrance test only destroyed social justice denying an equal opportunity for students from socially and economically weaker sections. “We will eliminate NEET legally,” he said appealing to students not to take any extreme steps.
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