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Hopes Dashed After SC Quashes Order Awarding 196 Grace Marks to NEET Students Opting for Tamil

Private tutors believe preparatory material in Tamil language needs to be honed and expanded further for students in the state to stand a better chance at NEET.

Poornima Murali | CNN-News18

Updated:November 23, 2018, 12:00 AM IST
Hopes Dashed After SC Quashes Order Awarding 196 Grace Marks to NEET Students Opting for Tamil
The Supreme Court of India. (News18 Creative)

Chennai: R Bharathidasan, 19, is the uncrowned mascot for the movement leading the controversial medical entrance test NEET in the Tamil language.

Born into an agricultural family in Madurai, he decided to take a year off after his class 12 examination to prepare for NEET.

Looking at his NEET 2018 Score, he realised his chances for a medical seat were slim to none but good fortune came in the way of a Madras High Court order granting 196 marks for all students who took the NEET 2018 in Tamil language, on account of the 49 questions rendered invalid because of improper translations.

In the meantime, he got himself enrolled in the biotechnology course waiting for the legal hurdles to clear and hoping that the additional score will help him secure a seat in a self-financed MBBS course or dentistry institute under reserved caste category.

On Thursday, it all went downhill. The Supreme Court set aside the Madras High Court order, annulling chances for students like Bharathidasan to get into sought after colleges.

“I could have still fulfilled my wish to enter a proper medical institute. Now, there is no other option but to prepare for NEET 2019,” he said from Usilampatti, Madurai.

More than the euphoria and disappointment cycle the NEET controversy had created, Bharathidasan felt the dearth of Tamil language material for preparation as a big hurdle: “I am from Tamil medium and a lot of time is wasted on finding the Tamil words for English ones in the NCERT text books.”

Bharathidasan’s lament is not a lone rant. Advocate Ram Prakash, who represented Tamil NEET students and founder of NGO Tech for All, said, “NEET textbooks should be in the regional languages. That is not addressed in the Supreme Court order.” He added that a minimum of 800 students would have benefited from the Madras High Court order.

In its judgment, however, the Supreme Court categorically stated that the Madras High Court has blindly allocated the 196 marks: “It is said that there are some students who might have otherwise failed but for the addition of marks by the High Court. Most of these students have scored higher than those who wrote the examination in English and other regional languages. This is mainly due to the blind allocation of 196 marks to every student who wrote the exam in Tamil.”

Private tutors believe preparatory material in Tamil language needs to be honed and expanded further for students in the state to stand a better chance at NEET. Narayanan N, founder of Chennai-based TenSquare Academy, which holds coaching classes for NEET, said, “There is no level-playing field for Tamil medium students when it comes to NEET. It will take another 3-4 years for proper preparatory materials to come up in Tamil.”

While NEET presents a unique challenge for every non-English medical aspirant, Tamil students have a tragic memory: Anitha. The 17-year-old litigated against the conduct of NEET exams. She wanted allocation of medical seats based on twelfth grade scores and not NEET. The Supreme Court turned down her plea and she committed suicide in September 2017.

Politically, the suicide of Anitha sent ripples across the state, with the DMK-led Opposition and other parties mounting a scathing attack on the state and the Centre for “imposing” the NEET exam.

Bharathidasan has the dark history of the medical exam alive in his memory. Will it force him to give up preparing for NEET in Tamil and give it a shot in English? “No, I will take it again in 2019, in Tamil,” he said.

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| Edited by: Ashutosh Tripathi
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