The suicidal death of Anitha is a hit to the solar plexus of the State. It is a wake-up call to our collective consciousness. It is also a collective shaming of the political community (irrespective of party affiliations).
It is politics that killed, not NEET. Though the 17-year-old medical aspirant from Tamilnadu, who had challenged the applicability of the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test in the State at the Supreme Court, has claimed in her suicide note that she was taking her life because she was unable to get a seat in a medical college.
Anitha, the daughter of a Dalit daily wage labourer, had scored 1,176 out of 1,200 in her Class 12 examinations under the Tamilnadu State board, but had secured only 86 out of 720 in the NEET. She had approached the Supreme Court against NEET, arguing that the entrance test would harm the aspirations of students from rural Tamil Nadu.
A resident of Ariyalur district, Anitha had managed to secure an engineering seat at the Madras Institute of Technology, but she had let it go as she wanted to become a doctor.
While the debate whether NEET is needed or not can be set aside for another day, it cannot be gainsaid that the confusion over NEET in Tamilnadu was certainly agonising for parents and students alike. There were too many going back and forth, and in the event, both the pro-NEET as well as anti-NEET groups had reasons to feel aggrieved. It is what had put students like Anitha on the edge.
Of course, it was the Supreme Court that had dismissed her petition, along with those filed by several other students. The Centre, which had earlier passed an Ordinance in this regard, said that the rules of the NEET cannot be changed just for one state.
There is plenty of politicking with each party blaming the other for the state of affairs. The truth is each party has blood on its hands for insensitively handling such a crucial issue as that of children’s education.
While NEET certainly puts those students without financial resources at a disadvantage, yet it is the duty of the State to upgrade the education standards at school level so that poor pupils are not done in by the system. For that there is a dire and urgent need to overhaul the Samaseer Kalvi, whose levels, experts agree, are abysmal.
Hope those stakeholders in the education system understand this and take corrective steps so that there are no future Anithas. But it is still little consolation for the family of that young Dalit girl whose dreams were snuffed by a heartless system.