Dalits are facing educational discrimination

Dalits are facing educational discrimination

Perseverance pays: Bhagavathy and her mother Samuthirakani of Thenkalamputhoor in Tirunelveli district.

Perseverance pays: Bhagavathy and her mother Samuthirakani of Thenkalamputhoor in Tirunelveli district. | Photo Credit: A_SHAIKMOHIDEEN


The 7.5% horizontal reservation provided by the State government for government school children in medical admissions has lit up the life of M. Bhagavathy, a poor Scheduled Caste girl who grazed cattle while preparing for NEET. She is a resident of Thenkalampudur in Tirunelveli.

Bhagavathy’s father Mariappan, who worked as a private bus conductor, had died of cancer when she was just six. Her mother Samuthirakanni had to work as a farm hand to support her four children.

With the little income she was getting from the three cows and the wages as a farm worker, the poor woman vowed to provide better education to her children.

After selling the land the family had, Ms. Samuthirakani admitted her first daughter in nursing and she is doing her postgraduate programme in nursing in Coimbatore.

After getting the degree in mechanical engineering, her son is undergoing coaching for the competitive exams. The mother’s tireless work ensured bachelor’s degree to another daughter.

When Bhagavathy wanted to become a doctor, NEET stood between her and her ambition. Bhagavathy was an outstanding student of Adi Dravida Government Higher Secondary School at nearby Nallammalpuram and scored 516 out of 600 in the Plus Two public exam in 2019.

However, she could score just 111 marks in the NEET in 2019.

“Since my mother always wanted me to become a doctor, she sold one of our three cows and borrowed from a moneylender to pay my fees of ₹74,000 to a private coaching centre in Palayamkottai and the hostel fee as well,” Bhagavathy recalls.

Instead of discouraging the girl, the poverty she had experienced in fact made her more determined and work hard in the coaching centre till the small hours. As she had to pay 7,500 for the hostel, Bhagavathy left the hostel once the coaching was over within the first five months and started taking the tests regularly as a day-scholar in a bid to save the hostel expenses.

While preparing for NEET, the girl had to take the cows for grazing at times and milk the animals whenever her mother was held up in the farm.

The hard work and perseverance has paid rich dividends as the girl has now scored 364 in NEET and bagged a seat in Tirunelveli Medical College. This time, Samuthirakani’s ear studs and the rings were sold to pay tuition fee.

“I want to purse my postgraduate programme either in neurology or paediatric medicine. I will work hard to achieve this dream too,” says Bhagavathy.

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