Sangavi, a student belonging to a tribal community of Coimbatore has made the district proud by passing the NEET exam. Sangavi, a Malasar tribal student from Nanchapanur tribal village under Tirumalayampalayam municipality, Coimbatore, has passed the NEET exam with the ambition of becoming a doctor, thereby becoming the first student in the village to pass this examination.
The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (Postgraduate) (or NEET (PG)) is a qualifying and ranking examination in India, for students who wish to study various postgraduate Doctor of Medicine (MD), Master of Surgery (MS) and diploma courses, in government or private medical colleges in the country. (NBE NEET PG 2020)
Sangavi is not only the first person from this village to clear the NEET examination, but also the first student to complete and pass the 12th standard examination in a village without basic facilities. Apart from these infrastructural barriers, she was also met with systemic and structural hurdles. Issuing of caste certificates is a major problem in this region, hence it becomes extremely challenging for students from marginalized backgrounds to access higher education with proper certificates. Sangavi too had to fight hard in order to access her caste certificate. In this process she also lost her father.
The village community got electricity and tarred roads under the government's gaze and the media's gaze while they were engaged in a struggle to get a caste certificate. Nonetheless, basic amenities like housing facilities are still not available in this village. All these issues combined with poor economic conditions affected Sangavi and as a result she did not succeed in her first attempt to clear the NEET examination. However, in this attempt she cleared it with flying colours. This success also made her the first person to study medicine in the Malasar tribal community. “After completing the 12th standard, I was afraid about the NEET exam because I had no understanding of the NEET exam. I wrote the exam in 2018; I fell short of 6 marks to clear it. I tried hard to study in order to write the exam for the 2nd time. But due to the second wave of Corona, online classes could not be continued. There was a lack of smartphones as well. On top of that the syllabus had changed. So I studied for the NEET exam from my old books. During the exam, my mother also went through an eye surgery. I, however, passed the examination and scored 202 marks. The cut-off was 120”, said Sangavi with tears in her eyes.
In this village the tribal community has been asking for basic amenities and fighting for their basic rights since decades. Although the conditions of tribals in this area have not improved much, it gives immense joy to everyone, including me, to witness a tribal woman fighting for her dreams, on her way to become the first tribal doctor here. I am also filled with pride to see the whole community standing together to help Sangavi in whatever way possible. It is important to join hands and fight as a community to get basic rights like that of food, shelter and education. Sangavi, is an inspiration to many and a symbol of the harsh realities of tribal communities in India.
This article is created as a part of the Adivasi Awaaz project, with the support of Misereor and Prayog Samaj Sevi Sanstha.