Actor Suriya Sivakumar has reached out to students tormented by the matter of appearing for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET), the mandatory entrance test for medical admission. In a 1.54 minute video in Tamil, the actor recalled his own “shameful low marks in exams” as he made an emotional appeal to students to not end their lives. The actor’s appeal comes amid three suicides over the last one week by students over the fear of failure in the entrance test.
“I can tell as one among you that marks and exams alone don’t make life. There are many things to achieve. Be bold and confident. Many of us who love you and understand you are here. All of us can win big in life. Let there be no fear,” he said.
Emphasising that “pain and hardship go away soon”, Suriya appealed to students to “speak about everything with someone they trust and love: Parents, elders, friends or teachers”.
“This pain and fear would vanish in a short time. Ending life is a lifetime punishment you give to your parents and those who love you,” he said.
At least 17 medical aspirants, including a few Class 12 top scorers, have died by suicide over the last few years, largely after failing to crack the highly competitive exam or in fear of failure.
Armed with the report submitted by Retd Justice A K Rajan committee that studied the impact of neet and mushrooming coaching centres, the DMK government had recently passed a bill scrapping NEET and paving way for medical admission on the basis of class 12 marks. However, this can come into force only if President Ram Nath Kovind gives his assent.
For nearly a decade Tamil Nadu had abolished entrance tests for medical admission, arguing that NEET favours the wealthy even as poor students and those in rural areas are left out because they can’t afford private coaching. The state had made Class 12 marks the basis for admission to medical courses.
NEET was introduced during the UPA regime when the DMK was a part of it. The then Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Karunanidhi had managed to get a Presidential approval exempting the state from NEET.
The AIADMK government, which succeeded that government, however, failed to get a similar exemption from its ally, the BJP. The Supreme Court, too, ruled that NEET would stay. Except the BJP, all other parties, including its allies, support the scrapping of NEET.