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NEET & Tamil Nadu’s Protest

GS Paper 2

 Syllabus: Federalism/ Government Policies

 

Source: IE

 Context: The conflict between Tamil Nadu and the Central government over NEET has broader implications related to equity and federalism

 

What is NEET?

NEET (National Eligibility Entrance Test) is the qualifying test for MBBS and BDS programs in Indian medical and dental colleges. It was introduced to standardize admissions across the country.

 

Tamil Nadu’s Opposition: Tamil Nadu has been vehemently opposing NEET, citing various issues:

  • Adverse Effects: A committee led by Justice K. Rajan found that NEET negatively impacted the share of seats historically enjoyed by Tamil Nadu Board of Secondary Examination (TNBSE) students.
  • Favoured CBSE Students: NEET favoured Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) students over TNBSE students, creating an imbalance.
  • Coaching Dependency: NEET led to a surge in the coaching industry, shifting focus from learning to exam preparation.
  • Social Inequality: Repeated attempts to crack NEET disproportionately benefited financially and socially privileged students, excluding marginalized backgrounds.
  • Economic Disparities: Merit-based admissions in state-run institutions contrasted with economically advantaged students getting admissions in private colleges based on poor NEET scores.
  • Exam Conduct Issues: Discrepancies in exam conduct, including impersonation cases, raised concerns about the fairness of the exam.

 

Tamil Nadu attempted legislative actions to counter NEET: 

In 2017, the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly passed bills aiming to exempt the state from NEET-based admissions, but these bills were not granted approval by the President. In 2021, a new bill was introduced to admit students to MBBS/BDS courses solely based on Class XII board scores, bypassing NEET. In 2022, after the Governor returned the bill, it was readopted by the Assembly and sent back to the Governor. Currently, the bill is awaiting consideration by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

 

Can states refuse to implement Central laws?

  • Usually, when a state wants to amend a Central law made under one of the items in the concurrent list,it needs the clearance of the Centre.
  • When a state law contradicts a Central lawon the same subject, the law passed by Parliament prevails.

 

Why has the Constitution envisaged such an arrangement?

This is an arrangement envisaged as most Parliament laws apply to the whole of India and states amending the Central laws indiscriminately could lead to inconsistencies in different regions on the application of the same law. In matters of trade and commerce, this could especially pose serious problems.

 

The other options available with the states are:

  • To take the Centre to the Supreme Court over the validity of these laws.
  • Article 131of the Constitution provides exclusive jurisdiction to the Supreme Court to adjudicate matters between the states and the Centre.
  • Article 254 (2) of the Constitution empowers state governments to pass legislation which negates the Central acts in the matters enumerated under the Concurrent List.
    • State legislation passed under Article 254 (2)requires the assent of the President of India.

 

Way forward:

The complex issue of NEET and its impact on Tamil Nadu’s education system requires a balanced solution that addresses both equity concerns and the preservation of regional values.

 

To resolve this matter, a multi-pronged approach could be considered.

  • First, there should be a comprehensive review of the NEET examination process to ensure that it fairly evaluates students’ aptitude and knowledge rather than solely relying on marks.
  • Second, alternative admission criteria that account for socioeconomic backgrounds and contextual factors should be explored, enabling a more diverse pool of students to access medical education.
  • Third, efforts should be made to enhance the quality of education in state-run institutions, providing students with the necessary skills to excel in competitive exams.
  • Additionally, the central government and state authorities could collaborate to establish a transparent and inclusive framework for medical admissions that combines elements of standardization and local autonomy.

 

Insta Links:

What is the Bill to scrap NEET in Tamil Nadu?