COVID-19 cases have been consistently surging in India, with more than 60,000 new cases every day. India has crossed the 3 million mark in positive COVID cases, with 58,000 fatalities and counting. The Health Minister said that the vaccine for COVID-19 won’t be available until November 2020.
Meanwhile, the entrance exams for various technical and medical institutes are set to be held two weeks from now. Millions of students have been consistently urging the government to postpone those exams amid the pandemic, especially the NEET and JEE. Many pleas were filed in the Supreme Court for the postponement of NEET and JEE, but the apex court refused to postpone the exams.
In the view of the drastic surge in COVID-19 cases, and the refusal of the Supreme Court to postpone the exams, lakhs of students took to Twitter to show their rage against the government for jeopardizing millions of lives. More than 2 million tweets for the postponement has been consistently trending on Twitter over the past few days, but government intervention is yet to come.
An unrelenting pandemic, floods, and dysfunctional public transport are some of the worries plaguing students who want the JEE/NEET exams to be postponed.
Thanks to @TheDeshBhakt. pic.twitter.com/Zlbw2Ks0x5
— Brut India (@BrutIndia) August 25, 2020
Students have been taking to social media to share their problems, with photos, videos, letters, and direct messages to activists.
I spoke to one NEET aspirant, Mohammad Naved Khan, regarding their demand for postponement of exams which is set to be held in September. Here are the major concerns that Naved shared.
One of the biggest problems ts the examination centres. Naved said that “Examination Centres are very far from the hometown of many students. For example, there are only two centres for the whole of the Bihar, one in Patna and other Gaya. It’s very difficult to reach out to the centres as all public transports are at a halt due to the lockdown.”
“The fewer numbers of centres is not the only problem. There comes a problem with expensive private transport. As public transport isn’t available, everyone will have to reserve private transport, that not everyone can afford. For example, the cabs are charging 15-20 thousand rupees for my centre which is 180 kilometres away from my hometown,” Naved added.
“If the deserving candidate can’t reach the centre, then what is the purpose of conducting the exams?” Naved wondered.
“These exams (NEET and JEE) are among the toughest exams of India that needs full focus and consciousness. With the psychological burden of getting infected, anxiety, mental pressure and possible depression, how will the students focus on their paper?” Naved asked.
“Being old age, with weak immunity, and suffering from diabetes and other health problems, our parents are very vulnerable to COVID-19. If I’ll get infected then there’s a chance of recovery for me, but will our parents recover?” asked the aspirant.
Naved also had another pertinent point: “Many Indian states have been affected badly by floods recently. How can any aspirant travel when many villages have been cut off from the cities? How will their family send their child while coping with floods?”
“Holding exams amid the pandemic will hit the poor the hardest. It’s a social, economical, and psychological assault on the future of India,” Naved said while demanding the postponement of the NEET and JEE exams.
The opposition leaders have also been questioning the government for possibly jeopardizing the lives of thousands of students and their families. Many youth wings of parties and student unions have taken to the roads demanding the postponement of NEET and JEE exams.
Not only the opposition leaders, one prominent face of the ruling BJP, former Union Minister and current Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy, has also condemned the government’s decision to conduct the examination amid the pandemic. Swamy tweeted, “If our Modi Government goes through imposing the NEET/JEE exam now it will be the giant mistake like Nasbandi in 1976 that caused the undoing of Indira government in 1977. Indian voters may suffer silently but have long memories”
It’s deeply unfair that students of India are asked to sit national exams during the Covid-19 pandemic and while millions have also been impacted by the extreme floods. I stand with their call to #PostponeJEE_NEETinCOVID
— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) August 25, 2020
However, an affidavit was also filed in the Supreme Court by the Medical Council of India citing that the postponement in the NEET exams will “drastically deviate the academic schedule.”