Tamil Nadu: Did poverty kill this Dalit medical aspirant’s dream?

Pradeepa’s primary school classmate Saravanan said this may have been the first time she had ever failed.

Published: 06th June 2018 04:41 AM  |   Last Updated: 06th June 2018 10:18 AM   |  A+A-

Image used for representational purpose only.

Express News Service

VILLUPURAM:  Pradeepa of Peruvalur near Gingee, who allegedly committed suicide on Monday after failing to clear the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) had cleared the exam in 2017 with 155 marks. Belonging to a Dalit community, she had gotten admission to a management quota seat. However, this was a financially unviable option. So, she took a year off to attempt the exam again but on Monday found she had scored only 35 marks and failed to qualify. Her distraught father Shanmugham blamed NEET for her death.

“It is not my daughter’s failure. It’s the failure of NEET,” he told media on Tuesday. The daughter of an agricultural wage labourer, and Amutha, a homemaker, Pradeepa could not afford private coaching at Gingee, the nearest town. The nearest government coaching centre at the district headquarters of Villupuram is at least 70km from her village.

With no other option, she had prepared on her own. Pradeepa’s primary school classmate Saravanan said this may have been the first time she had ever failed. In her Class 10 board exams in 2015, she scored 490 marks out of 500 and topped Tindivanam education district in government school category. “Her only aim was to become a doctor. If there was no NEET or if she had had some training, she would have cleared it,” said Saravanan, barely holding back his tears.

Lingeshwar, her primary school teacher, said becoming a doctor had been her childhood dream and she had studied hard. After her performance in Class 10, Shanmugam had worried about funding her higher studies. However, a private school offered her free education for Class 11 and 12. The school trained her for NEET. She scored 1125 marks out of 1200 in the Class 12 exam.

The NEET results on Monday had upset Pradeepa greatly, her family said. Her elder sister Umapriya, who is doing her Master’s in computer applications, while her elder brother Praveen Raj, is pursuing an undergraduate degree in engineering.

Together with Shanmugham, her siblings tried to console her. However, unknown to them she appears to have consumed poison. The family realised this only after she fainted in the evening.
She was rushed to a missionary hospital in Sethpet and then to the government hospital at Tiruvannamalai but doctors were unable to save her.

On Tuesday, Pradeepa’s family refused to sign the autopsy form, and demanded NEET be stopped, relief of Rs 1 crore and a government job for one of them. Social activists joined them but were arrested.
It is only after Villupuram Collector L Subramanian assured that their demands would be fulfilled that her family agreed to allow the autopsy.

Pradeepa’s body was brought to the village Tuesday evening. Hundreds visited her home to pay their respects, including DMK working president M K Stalin, and Amma Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam deputy general secretary T T V Dinakaran. The funeral is expected to be held on Wednesday.

Court invalidates admission of students under govt quota

Chennai: A full bench of the Madras High court has held invalid the admission of 36 candidates, who did not write the NEET, under the government quota in Ponnaiyah Ramajayam Institute of Science in Kancheepuram district. The bench of Justices T S Sivagnanam, M Duraiswamy and T Raja gave the ruling while dismissing a batch of writ appeals and writ petitions from the students. The court said the unfilled seats cannot be categorised as government-lapsed seats.

After girl’s death, political leaders lash out at State, Centre

Chennai: A day after Pradeepa committed suicide, leaders of several political parties came down heavily on the State and Central governments. “To prevent such incidents in future and to protect social justice, abolishing NEET is the only way,” said PMK youth wing leader Anbumani Ramadoss.  MDMK general secretary Vaiko urged students to take up various para-medical courses with employment opportunities, available in many colleges, without resorting to extreme steps.  


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