IN a bid to bring relief to the medical and dental aspirants of Tamil Nadu, K Balakrishnan, CPI(M) state secretary, has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to forward the two bills regarding National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) to the president.
It is to be noted that the Tamil Nadu state assembly, in February 2017, has unanimously passed the two bills, ie, Tamil Nadu Admission to MBBS and BDS Courses Act, 2017 and Tamil Nadu Admission to Postgraduate Courses in Medicine and Dentistry Act, 2017. The bills essentially seek admission of students into medical and dental colleges of Tamil Nadu based on their marks in higher secondary instead of NEET rankings.
Following the passage of these two bills, T K Rangarajan, Rajya Sabha MP, wrote to the president requesting his assent to these bills. To his dismay, the president’s office through their letter informed him that the said bills were not yet received at their end. Instead of acting swiftly to ensure the bills be forwarded to the president for his approval, the centre has forced NEET upon the Tamil Nadu students.
Adding to the students’ woes, the CBSE has complicated the issue further this year by fixing the examination centres outside the state, from Kerala to Rajasthan, for a large number of students, by going against the ruling of High Court. This year, a father of an aspiring student lost his life due to heart attack as he accompanied his son to the exam centre in Kerala. The aspirants from rural districts, socially and economically backward sections of the society underwent unprecedented difficulties in pursuing their dreams of medical admission. The CBSE defended its action in an appeal to the Supreme Court and got its way.
It is known that last year, Anita, a topper of State Plus Two exams and dalit student from a backward district has committed suicide as she could not secure a medical seat through NEET.
Balakrishnan, in his letter to the prime minister, urged for quick response, citing the constitutional provisions, judgments of High Court and Supreme Court, report of the Commission on Centre-State Relations, Parliamentary Standing Committee on H&FW.
He has reiterated that all the above have clearly established that the state is empowered to make amends in respect of education within the state. He has also pointed that the Justice Madan Mohan Punchhi led Commission on Centre-State Relations also recommended that “ … in the Commission’s view, the period of six months prescribed in Art. 201 for State Legislature to act when the bill is returned by the President can be made applicable for the President also to decide on Assenting or withholding Assent to a Bill….” ( Para 3.6.03) This report, was welcomed by many chief ministers, including that of Tamil Nadu, when placed before the Inter-State Council meeting on July 16, 2016.
Balakrishnan quoted the laudatory comments of Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen and Jean Dreze on the wider reach of health services to the people of Tamil Nadu for which the backbone being the state’s goal of rendering social justice in education, more particularly in medical education, through several measures.