This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Pawan Dixit. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

UGC’s Decision To Conduct Exams: Exams Matter More Or The Pandemic?

More from Pawan Dixit

In the course of the uncertainty caused by the corona pandemic and the postponing of the final year examination, the recent notification issued on July 6, by the University Grants Commission (UGC), plainly stated that examination of final year students will be conducted by end of the September. The cloudy situation regarding final year examinations is no more in the scene.

India has reached the third spot in the COVID-19 affected countries in the world. Thousands of people are dying because of this virus. Almost all the countries have imposed lockdowns and shutdowns to prevent their people from this mammoth-like pandemic. Including all other sectors of society, the education sector is also one of the most affected areas due to this invisible enemy that is a virus.

The matter of the fact is that the continuous postponement and cancellation of examinations have already created ambiguity and this new guideline has stimulated a ‘fresh uncertainty’ among students. Although in the revised guideline, UGC it is encouraged to adopt new modes to examine online and offline or mixed modes of the examination. Through social media, multiple petitions have been signed where more than forty-six thousand students in opposition to the UGC’s decision and have stated that “We, the final year students are not testing kits for the government. We are not afraid of exams about exams rather there is a fear of community spreading”.

students writing exam in the exam hall
Representational image.

COVID-19: An Unconventional Pandemic

The whole world is tirelessly fighting with this invisible enemy a virus, which is disastrous, impacting, and hitting intensely to the global world. The profound impact of this pandemic is manifold including psychological, economic, political, and social levels.

Psychological Impact of COVID-19 in the Journal Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome found that “Nationwide lockdowns can produce acute panic, anxiety, obsessive behaviours, hoarding, paranoia, and depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the long run. These have been fueled by an “epidemic” spread via different platforms of social media”. In such a risky and tense situation conducting exams created a new outrage at social media and laid discontent among students.

Why did The UGC Decide To Conduct An Exam?

United Grants Commission is a statutory body of the Government of India, established in 1956 which plays a significant role in the coordination, determination, and maintenance of higher education in India. Evaluation of the students through examinations is an important part of the pedagogy. This new guideline of UGC, asserting the needs of the final year examination as an “academic evaluation of students is a very important milestone in any education system. The performance in examinations gives confidence and satisfaction to the students and is a reflection of competence, performance, and credibility that is necessary for global acceptability”.

To provide a better and equal prospectus of assessment, UGC proposed a mixed way that is online and offline to conduct the exam. Although this new guideline proposes a new, ‘liberalised’ and unconventional institution that institutes would get autonomy to conduct the exams through offline that is pen copy or online mode or both altogether.

So, if institutes opt for online mode of examination there might be a matter of biases that means those students who are well off and having access to internet facility would get better benefit out of this and the section who is digitally unempowered or the subject of ‘digital divide’ would suffer. In response, students and academia have shown their dejection.

The Magnitude Of The Issue Of End-Ter Examinations Amid Covid-19

Since March 24, Indian Universities have remained closed because of this global pandemic. Currently, India is in one of the topmost nations that are the most affected globally. Although the recovery rate of India is better than other countries, the fact is that if the process of vaccine remains elusive, a team of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has claimed that India might record 2.87 lakh cases per day by February 2021. Humans have never seen such a catastrophic pandemic in near history.

More than twenty-two thousand deaths have been reported in Indian because of this virus. In the absence of remedy, the situation is getting worse day by day. To prevent people from this virus, governments are trying to impose multiple steps of the lockdowns so far.

This ‘coronaphobia’ and its intense impact laid the crumble of social structure, political- economy at the macro level and most importantly health, psychological imbalance, and well-being of the people at the micro-level. In such a tense and risky situation, is this a sensible decision of the UGC to conduct end term examinations when students are already living in such shock, vulnerable and uncertain situations?

Responses From Academia And Students

Because of this newly revised notification, there is an explicit outrage and dissatisfaction among students. On social media, hashtag Student Lives Matter is a new trend. Instead of the examinations, students are demanding to get promoted.

The response from academia is also two-fold for instance, one which advocates and embraces this decision of conducting exams and another which is at a different corner found this decision ‘unfortunate’. Prof Sukhadeo Thorat, former chairman of UGC and twenty-eight other professors from different institutions across the country like Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University, reiterated the demand to cancel final year exams.

In support of the cancellation of the exam, Prof Thorat and other professors stated that “Cancelling exams during a pandemic is sensible and fair precisely because examination must not be devalued”. No doubt examination is an important component of the evaluation process which is essential for the overall development of the students but the currently emerging life threat situation out of this pandemic is making students anxious and despair.

Obscurity Intensified

This disarray caused by pandemic, multiple lockdowns, postponing of the exams has fabricated a new mist for the final year students for the admissions. Different universities and institutions have started their process of admissions across India. The new issue has come to the surface in the procedure of the admission because it is still ambiguous for many institutions whether they would take up merit-based admission or entrance exams. This new guideline has augmented exiting ambivalence.

UGC has played a vital role in the higher education system nationwide. Taking the account of this global pandemic and overall students well- being, UGC should reconsider its decision over examining final year students. As Prof Thorat argued that “the uncertainty of COVID-19 pandemic will result in repeated postponements, which can be avoided altogether by adapting the alternative method of evaluation, including the past performance of students”. The impact of this existing pandemic is encompassing which penetrated all walks of the lives and yes, students’ lives matter.

The writer is a Research Fellow at Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar (Central) University Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.

You must be to comment.

More from Pawan Dixit

Similar Posts

By SAANS leaders

By Charkha Features

By missanu

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below