Even as the state government and the ruling DMK is in stiff opposition to the conduct of National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET), the Centre has announced 18 centres for the exam instead of the 14 centres in 2020. In a statement released on Thursday, the Union Minister for Education Dharmendra Pradhan said that Chengalpet, Virudhanagar, Dindigul and Tiruppur will be the new centres in addition to the 14 centres in the state of Tamil Nadu.
Tamil Nadu Health Minister, Ma Subramanian met the Union Education Minister on Thursday and apprised him of the difficulties faced by the students of the state in writing NEET examinations. He had also handed over a copy of the Justice(Rtd) A.K. Rajan committee which was constituted by the state government to study on the impact of NEET on rural students.
The report which was finalised after taking opinion and inputs from the general public has said that a majority of people were opposed to the NEET examination and were of the opinion that this is creating an educational divide among the Urban elite students and those from the rural backgrounds.
The Madras High court had earlier dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by the Tamil Nadu state general secretary of the BJP, K. Nagarajan, that constituting a committee to study the impact of NEET was against the Supreme Court directive. The first bench of the Madras HC comprising Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy said that 'constituting a committee was well within the purview of the elected government and it does not amount to defiance'.
The Tamil Nadu health minister, who met Dharmendra Pradhan in New Delhi told IANS, "It was a cordial meeting and we apprised him of all the apprehensions of the people of Tamil Nadu and the difficulties faced by the students of rural areas of the state.
"We also told him that 13 students had ended their lives after they were not able to qualify in the NEET exam and the minister promised us that he would look into our suggestions and that in his home state Odisha also, similar incidents had taken place."
However, the increase in the number of centres for NEET in Tamil Nadu makes it clear that the Union government would continue with the NEET exams in all the states, including Tamil Nadu.
Subramanian C., a journalist with a local Tamil daily, said, "NEET has to be conducted and let students face stiff competition and come out with flying colours. You can't always get into professional colleges through quota and other means.
"Even the marks being given in the state syllabus has to be studied in detail for an academic debate and conducting NEET would not hamper the interests of rural students. Instead of crying before New Delhi, the Tamil Nadu government must equip its students for the professional entrance examination."