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Academics call for doing away with NEET

Hunger strike organised to demand that the Governor forward the Bill

January 31, 2022 01:04 am | Updated 11:23 am IST - CHENNAI

Joint effort:  VCK president Thol. Thirumavalavan and political leaders at the NEET protest on Sunday.

Joint effort: VCK president Thol. Thirumavalavan and political leaders at the NEET protest on Sunday.

Former chairman of the University Grants Commission Sukhadeo Thorat on Sunday called for dispensing with the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) and said the National Education Policy-2020 went against inclusiveness as it envisaged a similar entrance test for all courses.

He was virtually inaugurating a day-long hunger strike organised by the State Platform for Common School System-Tamil Nadu in Chennai against NEET. Mr. Thorat said the National Education Policy did not detail measures to provide opportunities to the socio-economically backward population. “The measures it has suggested for improving the quality of education will end up denying opportunities to the disadvantaged sections.”

Anil Sadgopal, a former member of the Central Advisory Board of Education, lauded Tamil Nadu for being at the forefront of a struggle against NEET. He said NEET must be seen in the context of the National Education Policy that encouraged commercialisation of education and denial of opportunities to the disadvantaged.

The State Platform for Common School System organised the fast, urging Governor R.N. Ravi to immediately forward to the President the Bill passed by the Assembly to dispense with the NEET-based admission to undergraduate medical courses in the State.

V. Vasanthi Devi, former Vice-Chancellor of Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, said the protest was also about many other questions, including the power of the State government, saffronisation and corporatisation of education. Tamil Nadu must form an alliance with other States on the issue.

CPI(M) State secretary K. Balakrishnan said that while former Governor Banwarilal Purohit gave assent to the Vanniyar reservation Bill within a day, there was no reason for his successor to delay forwarding the Bill against NEET to the President. VCK president Thol. Thirumavalavan said the fundamental issue was the consolidation of power by the Union government. All items that were moved to the Concurrent List of the Constitution during the Emergency were brought back to the State list, but education remained in the Concurrent List.

R. Mutharasan, CPI State secretary, urged the Governor to discharge his duty in accordance with the Constitution and swiftly forward the Bill to the President.

DMK Rajya Sabha member T.K.S. Elangovan said that even when the diarchy system of governance that was in effect before Independence, the legislature in Madras had the power to legislate on education. That was how the Justice Party was able to bring in several reforms.

D. Hariparanthaman, a retired judge of the Madras High Court, said the delay on the part of the Raj Bhavan was unjustified as the Governor did not have any power to decide on the legislation. The Constitution empowers the Governor only to forward a piece of legislation in such a situation and his office must do it without delay, he said.

While State Platform for Common School System general secretary P.B. Prince Gajendra Babu had announced a fast until the Governor forwarded the Bill, he withdrew the decision on an appeal from various leaders.

K. Selvaperunthagai, Leader of the Congress in the Assembly; DMK youth wing secretary C.V.M.P. Ezhilarasan; Thousand Lights MLA N. Ezhilan; Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front general secretary K. Samuel Raj; and representatives of various organisations took part at the protest.

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