NEET & Tamil Nadu’s Protest | 25 Jul 2022

For Prelims: NEET, Powers of Centre and State

For Mains: Consequences of States breaking Central Law

Why in News?

The legal fight against NEET continues to this day for Tamil Nadu since the Supreme Court refusal to grant further exemption from NEET in 2017.

What do we need to know about NEET?

  • About:
  • History:
    • The Medical Council of India (MCI) (since replaced by the National Medical Commission) had mooted the NEET in 2009.
    • The following year the MCI had issued a notification to regulate MBBS and BDS admissions in the country through a common entrance test.
      • In 2013, the Supreme Court had struck down the NEET as unconstitutional and ruled that the MCI had no powers to issue notifications to regulate admissions in medical/dental colleges.
      • In April 2016, a five judge bench headed by Justice Anil. R. Dave (who delivered the dissenting verdict in 2013), recalled its 2013 judgment and eventually mandated the conduct of NEET.
      • Following requests from certain stakeholders, the Union Government promulgated an ordinance in May 2016 exempting State-run medical colleges from the ambit of the Supreme Court mandate for a year.
      • NEET was introduced across the country based on a Supreme Court ruling in 2016.
        • The Tamil Nadu government vociferously opposed the entrance test from the beginning and initially got exemption from NEET-based admissions.

Why is Tamil Nadu Against NEET?

  • Tamil Nadu constituted a committee headed by retired High Court judge Justice A. K. Rajan to study the effects of the NEET-based admission process.
    • Justice A. K. Rajan reported that:
      • Introduction of NEET as sole criterion for admissions into medical colleges has adversely affected the share of seats that were historically enjoyed by students who passed the Tamil Nadu Board of Secondary Examination (TNBSE).
        • It worked to the advantage of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) students.
      • Majority of students, who got admitted in medical colleges post-NEET, had gone for coaching.
        • Coaching focuses only on preparing students to answer questions asked in the particular exam as opposed to learning a subject.
      • NEET was introduced to ensure that only meritorious students seeking medical seats get admission into medical colleges as well as end the practice of collecting capitation fees, which stoked corruption.
        • However, it assumes that all aspirants are competing from the same position and with the same constraints.
          • The Rajan report highlights this as a flawed approach.
  • Politicians argue that:
    • The percentage of students gaining medical college admission from repeat attempts at NEET rose from 12.47% in 2016-17 to 71.42% in 2020-21.
    • Taking the test for a second or third time to try and get the coveted medical seat calls for financial and social resources.
      • This is way beyond the reach of families from poorer social backgrounds.

What are the possible Challenges in NEET?

  • Coaching Industry:
    • The NEET overshadows students’ efforts in their higher secondary education and has been known to spawn multi-billion dollar coaching centres.
      • It has shifted the focus more on cracking the ‘be-all-end-all’ examination instead of mastering the subjects at the higher secondary level.
  • Conduct:
    • There have been discrepancies in the conduct of NEET with cases of impersonation being reported.
    • Even in the NEET examination conducted recently, the CBI unearthed an impersonation racket and arrested eight persons.
      • Such racketeering challenges the very concept of merit.
  • Economic Inequality:
    • While it has ensured merit-based admissions in state-run institutions where the fees are affordable.
      • In deemed universities and private colleges, students with poor NEET scores with rich economical backgrounds continue to edge out meritorious aspirants belonging to poor, lower- and middle-class families.

What is the Current Status of the Issue?

  • The President refused assent to two Bills adopted by the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly unanimously in 2017 seeking exemption from NEET-based admissions for undergraduate and postgraduate degree medical courses.
  • In 2021, a fresh Bill to admit students for MBBS/BDS courses only on the basis of their class XII board examination scores was adopted by the Legislative Assembly.
    • In February 2022, after the Bill was returned by the Governor, the Bill was readopted by the House and sent back to the Governor.
    • The Bill has since been forwarded to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) for Presidential assent.
    • The Minister of State for Home Affairs informed the Lok Sabha that clarification has been sought from the Tamil Nadu Government on the Bill seeking to dispense with the NEET.
    • The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Ministry of AYUSH had furnished comments on the Bill which have been shared with the state government of Tamil Nadu for their comments and clarifications.

Source: TH