TN: One Year After Anitha's Death, Family Of NEET Aspirant Builds Library In Her Memory
On September 1, 2017, the young girl who had gone to the Supreme Court to challenge the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET), S. Anitha, ended her life in a tragic suicide. A year later, her family in Anitha’s memory has built a library named after her in Kuzhumur, their native village in Ariyalur district of Tamil Nadu in her memory.
According to The Hindu, the family spent Rs 45 lakh to build the library, using the financial help given to them by various political parties, social and cultural organisations and individuals. Dravidar Kazhagam president K Veeramani and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) leader Thol. Thirumavalavan inaugurated the library on September 1, 2018.
Currently, the library has about 2,500 books, while more books will soon be added. It will also have four computers to help the village students learn how to use one, so that they may give computer-based exams just like any other urban students.
What led to Anitha’s untimely death?
17-year-old medical aspirant from Ariyalur, S Anitha, committed suicide by hanging herself to death. The teen was unable to bear the stress of failing to secure a medical seat as NEET was made compulsory in Tamil Nadu. In August, she had written to the Supreme Court seeking stay for NEET based admission in medical colleges. The daughter of a daily wage earner, she believed that this would shatter aspirants from rural backgrounds.
Though Anitha could not crack NEET but a meritorious student from a poor Dalit family, she had secured 1176 marks in the plus two exams that year. With a medical cut off of 196.75, she was assured of a seat if admissions would have been made based on the plus two marks. She would have been the first doctor from her community in her entire village of Kuzhumur. She died nine days after the SC’s direction to Tamil Nadu to follow NEET for admissions to medical courses. The Tamil Nadu government had sent a Rs 7 lakh cheque to Anitha’s family which they rejected saying that she gave up her life for a cause and not for any government aid.
What is NEET?
NEET is a national entrance test first conducted in May 2013, which does not consider State Board marks in their cut-offs and ranking. Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh governments have vehemently opposed the exam, especially after a July 2013 Supreme Court ruling declared NEET illegal and unconstitutional.
However, the verdict was recalled on April 11, 2016, by a five-judge Constitution bench which allowed the Centre and the Medical Council of India to conduct the national eligibility test. “Sometimes I think the government thinks only children in cities deserve a future,” Anitha’s brother Mani told The New Indian Express.
The most recent NEET results have proved that poor and rural candidates are truly suffering as reflected by the multiple suicide cases reported in Tamil Nadu and Hyderabad this year, as pointed out by Mr Thirumavalavan, who has further stated that the VCK would make this an election issue in the 2019 general elections. The NEET syllabus is reported to be highly favourable for the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) students; in case of state boards like Tamil Nadu, the syllabus is very different from what is taught in CBSE schools. Also, the language barriers for students who are educated in the vernacular discourages students even further.
The Logical Indian take
Anitha’s journey should stand as an inspiration to all and an objection to the authorities whose actions seem insensitive to the plights of their citizens. At the same time, The Logical Indian community applauds the efforts of Anitha’s parents for setting an example and establishing a library which is perhaps going to help students from rural Tamil Nadu