Hours after winning the vote of confidence in the Tamil Nadu assembly, new chief minister Edapapadi K. Palaniswami announced that two bills previously passed by the state legislative assembly to exempt Tamil Nadu from participating in NEET and NEET PG have been sent to President Pranav Mukherjee for approval. These bills had already received the approval of Governor C. Vidyasagar Rao on Friday, February 17, 2017.
In one of his first official announcements to the media since becoming chief minister, Palaniswami addressed the topic of NEET and was quoted saying, “We have now sent the bills to the President for approval. It was signed by the Governor yesterday.”
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Given that NEET is a part of professional education, one of the items on the Concurrent List, the bills will require initial vetting from the Union Ministries of Law and Health and Family Welfare before they reach the President for approval. Once it receives the President’s assent, the bills are expected to come into force immediately.
On January 31, 2017, State Health Minister C. Vijayabaskar had moved the bills in the Tamil Nadu assembly, seeking to exclude the state from the purview of National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) UG and PG, the uniform medical entrance examinations introduced last year for admissions to undergraduate and postgraduate medicine and dental courses across the country. Click here to know more.
The bills, which received support from all the political parties in the assembly, seek to continue admitting students to the medical colleges of Tamil Nadu on the basis of their Class 12 examination marks for the UG courses and the existing qualifying exam marks for the PG courses.
The rationale behind seeking exemption from NEET, as explained by Minister Vijayabaskar, was that the majority of students appearing for the exam belong to rural areas and economically weak families, resulting in a struggle to access quality medical coaching. Given that there already exists a rigorous examination of merit in the form of the Class 12 board examinations, it would be unfair to expect these students to prepare for a separate uniform entrance examination which would determine their future in one stroke. It would also be better for the PG students if the existing state entrance exam model was continued.
“The state government has taken a policy decision to continue the present procedure of admission to MBBS and BDS courses on the basis of marks obtained in the Class 12 higher secondary examination,” the minister was quoted as saying.
Last year in April, the Supreme Court has passed a directive stating that NEET would be the single entrance examination for admissions to 100% MBBS and BDS seats in the country. Many states, including Tamil Nadu had protested against the NEET decision, calling it an “unfair move for students from state boards”. An ordinance was subsequently passed giving a one year exemption to all states, through which they could either choose to conduct their own entrance examination or accept NEET scores for admissions to 85% of State quota seats for the academic year 2016-17. Tamil Nadu had opted to continue with their previous year’s selection process of accepting 10+2 scores for admissions to medical and dental programmes.