The Tamil Nadu Assembly was in session for three days till September 16, during which 23 bills were passed of which 18 bills were passed on the last day. Most of the bills are expected to have hardly any impact on the common people except for the bills recommending the increase in punishment for crime against women and children, and 7.5% reservation for government school students in medical admissions.
The supplementary budget to the tune of Rs 12,845.2 crore of which Rs 9,027.08 crore were spent towards COVID-19 related expenses was also presented in the Assembly.
However, the focus remained on the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 and National Eligibility cum Entrance Examination (NEET) while the bill to bifurcate the Anna University attracted sharp criticism within and from outside the house. But, no substantial solutions were presented by the government on NEP and NEET, while the opposition to these two policies continues to mount across the state.
GOVERNMENT REFUSES SPECIAL SESSION DEMAND
With major political parties opposing the NEP, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) demanded a special session of the Assembly to discuss the NEP and pass a resolution against it. But, the government refused to yield to the demand ending in the opposition walking out. The NEP has faced strong criticism in the state, with the policy accused of promoting private players and the government shedding responsibility on public education.
The DMK president tweeted that, “We insisted on a special session on NEP instead of an explanation from the government, but was refused. The NEP should be opposed since it is against social justice, equality, federalism and Tamil language”. The DMK has also called for bringing back education to the state list from the concurrent list, which is also advocated by the left parties.
The state government led by the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), while insisting on the continuation of the two language policy has spoken less on other major issues pertaining to the NEP. The government has constituted two committees to study the different aspects of the NEP as well very recently.
TEMPORARY SOLUTION FOR NEET FIASCO?
While the demand for exemption from NEET has gathered momentum owing to the increase in the number of suicides of aspirants, the government has opted for reservation to the students of the government schools. The bill ensures 7.5% of the medical undergraduate seats to the students educated in government schools who have cleared NEET.
Also watch: Why is NEET Failing in Tamil Nadu?
The passing of the bill was preceded by a war of words and blame game between the DMK and the AIADMK members on who is responsible for the implementation of NEET. With the Assembly elections approaching, both the parties made use of the session to trade charges against each other for the hardships faced by the NEET aspirants. But, no definite solution was arrived upon. The proposal to provide 7.5% reservation itself seems more of a temporary solution, keeping in mind the upcoming Assembly elections.
The state Assembly had passed a unanimous resolution seeking exemptionfor the state from NEET in 2017, but was rejected by the President’s office. The DMK accused the ruling party of paying less attention in getting the bill approved, while the Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami blamed the DMK-Congress alliance for the implementation of NEET.
ANNA UNIVERSITY TO BE BIFURCATED
The only technological university in the state, Anna University is set to be bifurcated, citing administrative reasons. The existing university would be renamed as Anna Technological and Research University (ATRU) while a new Anna University would be established to grant affiliation to engineering colleges across the state.
The ATRU will be focussing on research and development activities, the minister for higher education said. But the former vice chancellor of the university, M Anandakrishnan has termed the move as unfortunate. Speaking to The Hindu he said, “They are looking at the wrong end of the problem. What they should be concentrating on is how to bring out the quality of teaching and learning, and make students employable.”
The Hindu also quoted the present vice chancellor expressing concerns over the draining of funds. “The university was obtaining funds by conducting exams and through the affiliation process. Education is the state’s responsibility. They have to educate, train and provide human resources,” he had said.
With plenty of problems haunting the people during the pandemic, the government has paid less attention in the session to address them. The ruling party was focussed more on putting up a united face to hide behind the failures of the government in various sectors including its failure in containing the pandemic.
Also read: COVID-19: Focused Testing and Tracking with More Tests Per Positive Cases Demanded in Tamil Nadu