Questions on literature in Tamil Eligibility Test shock doctors

Updated - April 26, 2023 09:02 pm IST

Published - April 26, 2023 08:34 pm IST - CHENNAI

The mandatory Tamil Eligibility Test, conducted as a part of the Medical Services Recruitment Board (MRB) examination for 1,021 assistant surgeon posts, has left many doctors in shock. While the candidates expected more questions on grammar, translation and comprehension to test their communication skills, what they faced were several questions on Tamil literature, putting them in a fix.

For the first time, doctors appearing for the MRB examination had to take an hour-long Tamil Eligibility Test, after the State government made the Tamil language paper mandatory for recruitment to government services. In a notification, the MRB had stated that candidates should take the test (Class X level) that required a minimum qualifying score of 40%. Though the score will not be taken into account for ranking, only those who secure 40% are eligible for evaluation of the subject paper.

Several doctors, including those who had studied Tamil till Class XII, found the Tamil paper, which had 50 objective-type questions, tough. Some of them turned to social media to vent their anger, while others took to sharing memes.

“This was meant to be Class X level. So, most of us thought there would be questions on grammar and translation exercises, but we were shocked as the majority of the questions were on Tamil literature. There were verses from various Tamil literary texts, and we had to match them with the authors. One of the questions asked us to choose the right verse number of a particular literary text that was in praise of Madurai,” a doctor, who appeared for the April 25 exam, said on the condition of anonymity.

Only a few questions on Tamil grammar and translation found a place on the paper, he said, adding, “Where is the need to test our Tamil literary knowledge? We need to communicate correctly with patients in Tamil. We can understand if the main paper on medical sciences was made tough due to increased competition, as nearly 25,000 doctors had applied. But why a tough Tamil paper?”

A number of doctors said that only 30% - 40% of the questions were easy.

A doctor said there were a few exercises on pirithu ezhuthuga, idai sol and peyarecham. “There were questions on the real name of a poet and awards won by Tamil authors. By the time we started writing the exam on medical sciences, We were stressed,” he said.

Another candidate said that in the midst of increasing unemployment among doctors, termination of the services of those who were recruited for COVID-19 management and financial constraints in managing a family, such experiences only exacerbated the pressure. “Already, coaching classes for the MRB Tamil paper have come up,” he said.

P. Saminathan, president of the Service Doctors and Post Graduates Association, said that decades ago, the Tamil qualifying exam for those recruited through the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission tested the doctors’ knowledge of Tamil used in daily activities. “A Tamil paper in the MRB exam is welcome, but questions from literature have put doctors in a fix. In the scientific world, language is a means of communication. So, the Tamil paper should test the communication skills instead of the literary skills of a doctor. This is in no way connected to his/her professional output as a doctor in the T.N. government service,” he said.

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