On Friday, September 1st, 17-year-old aspiring medical student from Tamil Nadu hanged herself at her home in Kuzhumur village of Ariyalur district. Anitha had scored 1,176 marks out of 1,200 in her state board examination, but had failed to clear the newly introduced National Entrance cum Eligibility Test, made mandatory by the Central government for admission to medical courses from this year. She had managed to get only 86 out of 700 in NEET, conducted in May this year.
“I don’t know what NEET is, and my father who has done his best to give me a good education, cannot afford NEET coaching classes,” she had said.
A futile fight against the commercialization of Medical education?
She was one of the respondents in the case in front of the Supreme court asking for exemption from NEET. But the Supreme Court refused to exempt the students of Tamil Nadu from NEET. “When the entire state was demanding exemption from NEET, the Government of India adamantly refused to understand the reality in Tamil Nadu,” said Prince Gajendra Babu, an educationist who impleaded in the case along with Anitha. He too was in Ariyalur on Saturday, attending the funeral. “The government failed to recognise that it is an issue concerning children.”
Anitha was the daughter of a 60-year-old Dalit casual labourer, T Shanmugam, who worked in Tiruchi. Anitha’s sudden death has left many in the state shocked, and sparked protests against NEET. The hashtags #RIPAnitha, #Anithasuicide and #NEETkilledAnitha are trending on social media after her death.