Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin today made an emotional appeal to students tormented by the matter of appearing for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for admission to undergraduate medical courses. His plea followed reports of a third case of suicide in a week related to the controversial exam.
A 17-year-old girl died in Tamil Nadu today allegedly by suicide, the third such death in less than a week. The daily wager’s daughter, who had appeared for NEET 2021, was anxious over clearing it. She had scored 84.9 per cent in Class 12.
Her death followed a 17-year-old boy’s yesterday and a 19-year-old’s on Sunday, merely hours before the exam scheduled for the next day.
Over the past few years, 15 medical aspirants have died by suicide in the state.
“I beg of you, please do not end your lives. Nothing is impossible for you. Study with that confidence. Parents, too, should instill self-confidence in children and not stress them out,” Chief Minister Stalin said in his appeal, advising panicked children to talk to mental health experts by dialling 104.
“NEET shuts down the little opportunity that has opened up for students. The Union government is stonehearted. It is not climbing down (from its stated position). We will create a situation to scrap NEET,” he said.
On Monday, Tamil Nadu passed a new bill to stop NEET-based admission to medical courses. It would, however, not take effect without a sign-off by President Ram Nath Kovind, since it challenges a Central law.
NEET was introduced during the UPA regime when Mr Stalin’s DMK was a part of it. The then Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Karunanidhi — Mr Stalin’s father — had managed to get a Presidential approval exempting the state from NEET.
The AIADMK government, which succeeded that government, however, failed to get a similar exemption from its ally, the BJP. The Supreme Court, too, ruled that NEET would stay.
Tamil Nadu had abolished medical entrance tests for nearly a decade, arguing that NEET favours the wealthy even as poor students and those in rural areas are left out because they can’t afford private coaching. The state had made Class 12 marks the basis for admission to medical courses.