CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu government today "strongly" objected to any move by the Centre to introduce a single national-level examination for medical courses, saying any form of common entrance test "by design favour the urban elite" and rural students cannot compete with them.
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa said her government has consistently been of the view that common entrance exams "by design favour the urban elite" and rural students and students from poorer socio-economic background are unable to compete with students from such urban elite background in the examinations. Rural students were at a disadvantage as they lacked the resources to enroll in training institutes and coaching classes and did not have access to study materials available to their urban counterparts, she said.
Recalling her consistent opposition to any such examination, Jayalalithaa said she had conveyed to him in October last her government's "strong objection" to the Centre seeking a review of Supreme Court judgement on the issue of a National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET) for medical admissions proposed in 2013 during previous UPA regime. It had been quashed by the Supreme Court but the then central government had filed a review petition even as her government had moved the apex court against that, she said.
"I had also strongly cautioned against any attempts to introduce such a common entrance test in any other manner or by any other name, as it infringes upon the state's autonomy and right to regulate the admission policies to medical educational institutions in Tamil Nadu," she said. In a memorandum submitted by her to Modi, she had urged him to review the stand taken by the UPA government and withdraw the review petition filed and abide by the 2013 decision of the Supreme Court, Jayalalithaa said.
"Despite our strong and sustained objections having been made abundantly clear, I am deeply concerned by reports that have appeared in a section of the media, which mention that, based on a proposal by the Medical Council of India, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has sought the views of other ministries on the introduction of a common examination for medical admission."
"These media reports are yet again creating confusion and frustration in the minds of thousands of students of Tamil Nadu who are already covered by a fair and transparent admission policy laid down by the government of Tamil Nadu, which has been working well," she said.For instance, the state government was giving 'preference' to those who have served in rural areas during admission to PG medical courses, with additional special weightage to those who work in hilly and tribal areas.
"This has significantly improved the availability of doctors at remote locations and also strengthened the quality of primary health care," Jayalalithaa said. 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, she said.
"The introduction of NEET or any common entrance test would nullify the implementation of such progressive policy initiatives and prevent furthering of the socio-economic objectives of the state. The national test would be out of tune with the prevailing socio-economic milieu and administrative requirements of Tamil Nadu," she said. "I would further state that as the central government has
already filed a review petition, seeking a review of the judgement of the Supreme Court and the same is pending, it will not be proper to consider any proposal to introduce NEET for admission to both undergraduate and postgraduate courses as the same would amount to circumventing the judgement of the Supreme Court," she said in the letter.
Jayalalithaa said Tamil Nadu "strongly objects to any such fresh purported attempts" by the Centre to nullify the judgement of the apex court "by seeking introduction of NEET, or by introducing it in any other name or manner, as it infringes upon the state's rights and admission policies to medical educational institutions in Tamil Nadu".