Over the last week, media reports emerged on a proposal by the Medical Council of India seeking the views of various Ministries on introducing a common entrance examination for medical admissions. In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa reiterated her strong objection to any move by the Centre to introduce NEET, a single national-level examination for medical courses. Here's why:
The AIADMK government has consistently been of the view that common entrance exams put rural students at a disadvantage because they lack resources to stand at an equal playing field as their economically advantaged peers. According to Jayalalithaa, the examination by design favours the urban elite, who can enroll in training institutes and coaching classes and have access to study materials unlike their rural counterparts.
Any attempts to introduce such a common entrance test in any other manner or by any other name, infringes upon the state's autonomy and right to regulate the admission policies to medical educational institutions in Tamil Nadu.
Multiple objections were raised with the Centre in October last year – due to the state already being covered by a “fair and transparent” admission policy laid down by the government, “which has been working well” Under the present policy, the state government gave 'preference' to those who have served in rural areas during admission to PG medical courses, with additional focus on those who work in hilly and tribal areas.
She also said that the existing policy in place in the state has significantly improved the availability of doctors at remote locations and also strengthened the quality of primary health care. Further, she added that the state government had also successfully obtained and enforced bonds from those completing postgraduate education in government medical colleges to serve it for a minimum period. This had helped the government meet the need for specialist medical manpower in state-run hospitals.
As the central government had already filed a petition seeking a review of the judgement of the Supreme Court which is currently pending in the court, she said it would amount to circumventing the judgement of the Supreme Court to consider any proposal to introduce NEET for admission to both undergraduate and postgraduate courses.
In her letter, CM Jayalalithaa recalled all her earlier letters to the Central government over the issue and cited a Supreme Court judgment in 2013 which held up the notification introducing NEET for the undergraduate and postgraduate medical and dental courses.