The Government of Tamil Nadu had been taking steps to regulate the admission of students in professional colleges, including the medical and dental colleges (MBBS/BDS Courses), which come under its purview till 2005. In 2006, the State enacted a legislation to abolish all types of entrance tests, held for admission into the professional colleges. The raison d eter for the legislation was that candidates hailing from rural and poor families, suffering from socio economic disabilities could not compete with the candidates from urban background , who are well equipped with preparation for the entrance tests by attending coaching classes and utilizing other means available easily and freely in their areas.
In 2010 Government of India, in consultation with Medical Council of India and Dental Council of India which do not have any role in the admission formalities, introduced NEET (National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test) which was made applicable for admission into the medical and dental colleges throughout the country.
Though NEET is common, the syllabus for the pre-requisite course i.e. 12th standard is not common. The questions, formulated for NEET are based on the syllabus under Central Board of Secondary Education which is not common for the country but confined to only urban centres. Majority of the candidates, applying for medical admission are those who studied under the State Board syllabus and hence they found it difficult to pass through NEET. The common examinations conducted by NEET do not test what they have studied.
It is therefore, nothing but an encroachment upon the States’ power and rights Many States including Tamil Nadu protested against NEET, for which Government of India promulgated an ordinance to exempt the needy States from NEET for the medical and dental admissions held in the academic year 2016-17.
In Tamil Nadu, the dispensation of Social Justice by admitting students in medical and dental colleges based on the marks secured by them in their pre requisite course,12th standard, is reflected very aptly and relevantly. Out of the total medical seats available at the disposal of Government of Tamil Nadu, 884 seats are allocated for Open Competition apart from the reserved seats. The selection of candidates reflected the representation of various communities for the 884 seats as follows:
Backward Classes: 599, Most Backward Classes: 159, Muslims: 32, Scheduled Castes: 23, Scheduled Tribes: 1, Arundhathiyars: 2, Forward Castes: 68
What better dispensation of Social Justice is possible in case NEET is introduced?
For the forthcoming academic year 2017-18, the Sword of Damocles of NEET is hanging over, to deprive the chances of rural students from getting admission in the medical / dental colleges.
As per Indian Constitution, the governing powers of the rulers are placed in the VII Schedule. List III, the Concurrent List under which both the Centre and the State Governments can exercise the governing powers. ‘Education’ comes under Item 25 which includes technical education, medical education and universities subject to the provisions of Entries 63, 64, 65 and 66 of List I, vocational and technical training of labour.
By exercising the governing powers available to the States under Item 25 of the Concurrent List, they can also decide on medical education along with the other educations. The States which are not interested in accepting NEET for its negative features but committed to ensure Social Justice may enact exclusive law in their respective State Legislatures. Since the subject matter is already dealt by the Central Government, it would be apt to get the assent of President of India for such exclusive legislation.
Recently, Government of Tamil Nadu has enacted a law in such a pattern in respect of conducting Jallikattu (taming sport of bulls) in the State. Similar enactment of law can be made to exempt the medical / dental institutions coming under the State purview from NEET, with the due assent from the President of India by co-ordinating the Central Government.
As the State which possesses significant history of ensuring Social Justice, the Government of Tamil Nadu has to show the way in this regard. To express the solidarity against NEET and to enforce exemption for the State, the Government of Tamil Nadu may lead the delegation comprising the Members of Parliament in the State from all the political parties to meet the Prime Minister to seek the support and co-ordination. The other States, whichever want to get exemption from NEET may also take the initiative similarly.
Since the formal announcement of NEET 2017 is likely to be made shortly, the respective State Government has to move in this regard very quickly. The onerous responsibility is vested with the State Governments. The move, exempting NEET made by the State Government of Tamil Nadu would be a leading light in the path of social justice and will pave the way for the rest of the States. The future of many rural students with poor socio-economic background, becoming medical professionals rests on the initiatives of the
Government of Tamil Nadu. Timely move is the need of the hour!