Sunday, 3 September 2017

Tamil Nadu wants NEET exemption - FAQs answered

When I, every single time, start off to write on a social issue, a political vendetta or even a movie's viewer's note, one thing I have in my mind is that I, with all my responsibility, should torch a ray of knowledge on things I at least know. Since the fatal decision of the 17-year-old medical aspirant Anitha has created some emotional vibes across the State, for which even I am not an exception, I restricted myself to not to write on this immediately, as it will surely have a lot of personal and emotional agenda blended both knowingly and unknowingly. Even now, after 36 hours since the death of that pity soul, I am highly emotional. But, as I said earlier, as a journalist and a social representative, I have the responsibility to light my torch.

As the death of Anitha is being humiliated and to stop more Anithas coming up from the society, I am writing this. Though this is an effect of the ruling party's political agenda, let me not touch politics, as much as possible.

Source: Financial Express
Here are some FAQs that I have tried to answer from my understanding as a reporter who penned education bureau stories for about two years and still counting. These FAQs are being raised by those who humiliate the death of an innocent medical aspirant Dr. Anitha Shanmugam.

Q1. Why can't a student who scored whopping cut-off in State board exams could not score in NEET. Is she not ready to equip herself for her aspiration?

Firstly, it is to be understood that, for a long time, medical entrance in Tamil Nadu has been conducted based on the marks scored by a student in her Higher Secondary education. Every student in the State prepares himself/herself for HSC examination with respect to this medical admission process. In this juncture, a common entrance that involves content which he/she never was taught in the past and dropping the conventional admission method, will not only be a burden for the candidate but, will leave his/her dreams and aspirations in lurch. A student like Anitha who is capable of scoring 98 per cent marks in HSC could have easily cracked NEET. But, the question here is whether she was given proper time and opportunity to prepare herself for the exam. At the same time, when a student already has proved his/her ability through an exam, why is an another exam needed to prove himself/herself again? What's the point in conducting a public exam in HSC?

Q2. If so, is the State's school education system so poor to not to reach the standards of NEET?

Before dealing with the standard of Tamil Nadu's education system, an important question to be answered is, how is NEET considered as the benchmark of school education, that qualifies a medical aspirant. For a long time, even before independence, Tamil Nadu has been producing a number of doctors. Of them, there were a lot of quality doctors and there were some less effective doctors. Secondly, it is a well known fact that Chennai has been serving as the medical tourism capital of Asia as most of the private hospitals here are known for their less expensive, high infrastructures and quality medication, for which a lot of medical tourists drop in. Putting both these facts together, it is clearly evident that doctors from the same education system background of Tamil Nadu are the key factors for earning Chennai and Tamil Nadu this fete. Of course, every hospital will have doctors from creamy layer. But, if logically analysed, not all doctors would be from economically self sustained background. So, my question is what is the need of NEET?

Q3. Why is not school education in India uniform across the States?

Coming to the Standard of school education, the basic understanding one has to get about school education is that, school is the place to get fundamental education and not technical education. But, when we take the concept of 'fundementalistaion', it cannot be accounted as a constant value in a multi faceted society like India. Fundamental education is influenced by an individual's geography, environment, climate, history, language, culture, physiology and psychology. With India, which is a Union of various cultural cross sections, having a uniform fundamental education is completely absurd. It can be believed that there is at least a micro level unity in diversity, but this sub continent can never have a uniformity in diversity. If there is uniformity, then there won't be diversity and apparently, it would be social injustice.

Q4. If you really care for the future of Tamil Nadu's students, why are you not concerned about the students from your same State but from a CBSE school?

I sincerely care for a student from a CBSE school in my State with the same level of care I have on a State board school student. But, the point is that I have to maintain justice statistically. Comparing to the number of students attending school in State board schools, to the number in CBSE schools, it is openly evident that, the difference is very huge. I am ready to offer them equal opportunity. But, what is the point in giving them a fifty fifty chance in a State where there are 12 State board students for every CBSE student? If there is a justified proportion in the reservation, I solely admit it. With having an open competition, the number of candidates from other States grabbing the opportunity of a Tamil Nadu candidate is relatively very high. This will leave the opportunity for the native students negligible. This is not a logical debate, but a statistical one. The visible example is the rank of list of this year's Tamil Nadu medical admissions in which 15 out of top 20 rank holders were from CBSE school background.

Q5. So, you are not going to allow students from other State to study in the colleges of your State?

Why should I allow? Tamil Nadu has the most number of State run medical colleges in India along with a lot of private medical colleges. All these State run colleges are built, operated and maintained in the tax money levied on and acquired from me. How do you think, that one can give up all infrastructure, faculty and resources that are sourced out from his pockets? Then why should I pay tax in any form? If I permit it, doesn't that mean I'm committing social injustice to myself? Okay, let's say I allow other State students to study here. If he takes up medical education in my State, in my tax money, will he be at least serving as a medical practitioner in a village or in a city in my State? Even if he serves for name sake, will he be able to communicate in Tamil with the rural population that reaches out to him? So, why should I?

Q6. If NEET can be taken up multiple times, why should a girl take an extreme decision in the failure of her very first attempt?

The only person who could answer to this question is Anitha. It has to be inferred from a point where, a 17-year-old girl who was bold enough to knock the doors of Supreme Court to demand justice has taken this fatal decision. Means, a bold woman who was able to knock the doors of  the apex court has taken this decision. So quoting her as a light hearted or mentally not strong itself is an extremism of humiliation. So, her last moment emotions cannot to be put into words. At the same time, the financial condition of her family has to be taken into account. Asking a daughter of a daily wage labour of an unorganised work to wait for one more year to make her dream come true is not acceptable at any cost. This answer is not specific to Anitha, but for every medical aspirant from a poor or a rural background of this State.

Q7. Aren't there any other opportunities for her? Why did she opted for a fatal end?

Yes, there were. She was offered with aeronautical engineering programme and veterinary science course under merit grounds in some leading colleges of the State. But,  why should she choose them being a medical aspirant. She opted for MBBS and she deserved that. If she had born a year earlier, she would have been in a medical college by now. She was denied opportunity despite being an eligible candidate. And, the society in which she was living would have surely given her stress unknowingly by asking about  her admission everyday. With all these surrounding, the final false and strong hope that was given to her by the Central and State governments added fuel to the fire.

- Santhosh Mathevan,
Chennai, September 2, 2017.

By this, I'm not justifying her decision, but, her pain and emotion can be felt and explained only from her point. So, I feel it's better to stop here than humiliating the loss of a naive soul. It's not a time to debate, but to plan for the next move, either aggressive or defensive, there should be move and only then Dr. Anitha's loss will be a meaningful one.

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