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

“My Father Has Covid And Is Critical. How Do You Expect Me To Appear For A Test?”

More from Shraddha Iyer

This post is a part of YKA’s dedicated coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak and aims to present factual, reliable information. Read more.

Trigger Warning: Mention of Covid trauma, death

“The night before my internal, my 29-year-old brother tested Covid positive. The next morning, and 2 hours before my test, his oxygen levels dropped and we needed to rush him to the hospital. After 28 hours of excruciating trauma, his condition stabilised. When I returned home the next day asking for a re-test, I was denied by my professor. He says I should’ve informed before the test- how could one be so insensitive?” says Pooja Varier, 20.

On 23rd April 2021, India registered the world’s highest single-day spike with 3,32,730 fresh Covid-19 new cases, pushing the overall caseload to 1,62,63,695, according to the data provided by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Friday morning.

Despite a second and deadlier wave of the pandemic sweeping across the country affecting close family and friends, students across universities and schools in India are being expected to attend online classes, write tests, work on research papers, conduct online events. Already neglected and bearing the brunt of the pandemic’s short term and long-term effects in terms of career opportunities, job security, students are experiencing heightened levels of stress induced by an uncertain future.

Students across India take to social media to express their disillusionment in apathetic education institutions.

Do students exist in a bubble- isolated from the grim realities such as understaffed hospitals, unequipped medical infrastructure and the overflowing crematoriums? Are students not affected by the state of affairs in our country? While even corporate workplaces display a basic decent amount of empathy, students are being expected to compartmentalise, shut the noise out and conduct their business as usual.

“My classmates and I have been repeatedly requesting our professors and college administration to decrease the duration of lectures and ease extensions for assignment deadlines. However, they said that portion has to be completed, and internal marks have to be submitted. Nothing can be done,” says Iram Shenoi, 19.

Many students themselves are suffering from Covid, or have family in critical condition and are additionally struggling to balance a huge pile of assignments and their crippling mental health.

Samuel Jacob, 20 said, “My whole family including myself, was infected with Covid. My Amamma(grandmother) passed away last week due to the same, and 2 hours post the service, I had to write my Electronics internals. The professors said they are helpless and the university demands that the internals be conducted- so while my family mourned, I logged into Google Classrooms.”

How can administrations and academicians be so insensitive and indifferent towards the plight of struggling students? We understand that the teaching and administrative staff are also subject to the same devastating atmosphere. But our personal and close experience with Covid too does not give us a pass to use apathy as an excuse.

As if the stress of having to deal with multiple assignment deadlines and online classes was not enough, universities across India have released date sheets for end-semester examinations. While social media and newspapers are filled with graphic images of people begging for ventilators and drugs, the mental stress of being productive each day, preparing for examinations, and appearing for them is beyond imaginable for most students.

“I open my textbooks and arrange all my stationery thinking that today is the day I will make notes, be productive and study as I did before. But I cannot stop thinking about it- all the cries for help on social media, close friends begging for contacts to obtain medicines and hospital beds. And it does not help that students have to do the government’s job by curating helpline numbers and verifying contacts for covid resource,” says Mukund Bharadwaj, 20.

Understandably, students have to be assessed against some parameters to clear a course- it is unreasonable to have regular examinations via the online mode for various reasons.

In the given context, almost every individual is aware of someone in their immediate circle who is Covid positive. Unlike the previous semester examination where close family testing positive was a one-off case- this time it is dreadfully common. So, to argue that exams can be conducted just as they were in the previous semester is borne of ignorance and an utter disregard for changed circumstances.

“My father had Covid and is critical. How do you expect me to appear for a test in this circumstance?” shared a student from Hyderabad University who chose to remain anonymous.

Further, such adversities disproportionately affect individuals of certain socio-economic background, and that includes students too! Unfortunately for the Indian masses, unlike the privileged elite, the struggle is not limited to mental health. The financial burden of the Covid battle is one too heavy for several students across India, who are at the risk of dropping out. Many have lost their parents, guardians, or are incurring huge hospital bills in lakhs.

Yogita, a first-year student of Delhi University wrote in a detailed message, “My mother has tested Covid positive and is hospitalised in a private institution, she is in critical condition. My father works as a private driver and we are unable to clear our medical loans due to our existing financial circumstances. My family and I require 4 lakhs to afford my mother’s treatment, please contribute any amount you can.”

Yogita is one of the thousands of students who have been so closely impacted by the pandemic– do we expect them to side-line the situation at home to complete assignments and appear for examinations?

And unlike the previous semester- keeping an offline mode option for the examinations is no longer viable since it would directly endanger student lives. In a situation where offline examinations cannot be conducted and a deadly disease is claiming the lives of so many- what message are we sending across to students who lack the digital infrastructure to appear for these exams in the current context?

In dystopian times like these, it is most important to ensure mental and physical well-being.

If your argument against easing of deadlines and cancellation of exams is “the show must go on”, then you’re directly contributing to a system that values productivity over human life and well being.

To assume that students coming from pandemic struck families, struggling to pay medical bills and afford vaccines have the environment at home sit for 6 hour-long lectures every day, appear for examinations, and have a fair chance at a future- is extremely elitist and apathetic, to say the least. And to say that there are no alternatives is a lazy excuse.

You must be to comment.

More from Shraddha Iyer

Similar Posts

By Charkha Features

By Siddharth Mohan Roy

By Mariam

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