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The Tamil Nadu government is waiting for the President of India to give his assent on the Bill the state Assembly has passed exempting the state from NEET. Students who have passed Class 12 are in limbo land as they are still unsure if they have to prepare for NEET are not.

The Governor of the state should forward the Bill to the President as soon as possible, says Prince Gajendra Babu, education activist. He adds that both Sarkaria Commission and Punchhi Commission established to study centre-state relations have said that the Indian Constitution protects the rights of a state to pass a law as per conditions in the state on a subject coming under the Concurrent list. Education comes under Concurrent list.  He says the Parliamentary standing committee in its 92nd report has said that states should be allowed to exempt themselves from entrance exams. The Supreme Court has said this in the Modern Dental College case.

Public health and medical education cannot be separated. It is the duty of the state government to make medical education policy based on the public health needs of the state. The state government’s proposed law does not contradict the principle of rolling back commercialization of medical education that the Supreme Court has endorsed in its rulings for NEET. The law applies only to institutions run by the state government and government quota in private institutions, says Prince Gajendra Babu.

Dr MGR Medical University was established by the state government. National Medical Mission’s mandate regulating standards in medical education does not apply to this university under which most medical education institutions come

Another legal angle would be that universities come under the purview of the state. The center cannot interfere in this. Therefore institutions that come under universities cannot be regulated by the National Medical Commission. Dr MGR Medical University was established by the state government. National Medical Mission’s mandate regulating standards in medical education does not apply to this university under which most medical education institutions come, per the report by the AK Rajan panel on NEET.

If NEET has been brought to force to prevent commercialization of education, then the purpose has been defeated since the panel report has pointed out how private coaching centers have been raking in profits prepping students for NEET, says education consultant D Nedunchezhian. Moreover, the system still discriminates against students who cannot afford studying in private institutions even if they have scored well in NEET. Those who have scored less than them can get admission if they can afford to pay the high fees, he said.

Even if the state were to get exemption, the state should continue to run NEET coaching students for poor students so that they can avail medical seats in the state’s quota in central pool, said public health activist GR Ravindranath. He suggests NEET is the wrong solution for commercialization of medical education. Other measures need to be taken to cap collection of exorbitant fees.

Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu chief minister has sought the support of other states against NEET. It is not known if that support is coming.

A similar Bill passed by the Assembly during the AIADMK regime was returned by the President. It is not known what will be the fate of the present Bill. Until we know one way or the other, students will be in limbo land.


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