Covid19 Featured India

JEE & NEET exams: Do student’s life matter to India?

2.5 million aspirants of the most awaited entrance exam of the country are stuck in between. The future of these students seems to be bleak because of the unprecedented global pandemic. Now the Indian government has decided not to postpones their exams out of coronavirus fear. This raises the question that everybody is asking the government today; Do student’s life matter to India?

But wouldn’t it be perilous to conduct an exam at the time when the spread of the virus is at its peak in the country? Is India ready to acclimate thousands of students amid the increasing risk of infection? Is risking life for the future, a wise decision?

Why is JEE & NEET important for student’s career?

Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) is one of the most important entrance exams after grade 12th for students who want to pursue a career in engineering. Every year more than 1 million students appear in this exam.

The top scorer gets chance to study from India’s one of the most prestigious institutes, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT). Students start preparing for this exam since as early as 9th grade; most of the students drop after 12th and give their entire year in preparation of JEE.

National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET), is a national level medical entrance exam. Every year more than 1.3 million students give this exam. The top scorers get admission in country’s top government-owned medical institutes.

The students aiming to become a doctor, prepare for this exam for years, some even till they are 25. In the usual days both, JEE and NEET exams use to get over by the last week of May. But the coronavirus pandemic has changed everything this year.

Students who have been preparing and are eagerly waiting for the exam. But now when the Supreme Court has decided to conduct the exam; regardless of the exploding number of coronavirus-infection cases, everybody wants the exams to get postponed.

Why students are demanding for postponing the exams?

Students have been waiting for very long for the exam to be conducted. But now the virulently contagious coronavirus has infected more than 3 million people in the country. India is currently the third worst-hit country by the virus. To contain the spread many states have imposed lockdowns on weekends.

Under these ambiences, aspirants don’t feel safe to go for examination. This year 11 Lakh students have applied for JEE while around 15 lakh students have applied for NEET. With this huge number of candidates, the examination centres would be filled with aspirants risking student’s safety, under which it would not be easy to maintain social-distancing.

Student’s claimed problems

Even though the government has assured that they will take care of social-distancing norms and student’s safety; would make sure that every examination centre follows the utmost safety rules, it is hard to trust.

Seeing the infringement of social-distancing safety norms in the recently held Kerala Engineering Architecture Medical (KEAM) exam in Kerla, a southern state of India; it is hard to believe that such condition would not arise at JEE & NEET exam centres. And if such a crowd accumulate at all the examination centre, it could result in huge number of infections.

There is a considerably large number of students who live far away from the allotted examination centres. Aarya Shandilya, an aspirant of the entrance exam from Bihar; She tells that the entire state of Bihar has only two examination centres, 2 centres in a state with 32 districts.

Since the public transport system is almost at a complete halt. One big issue is students travelling to their allotted examination centre. Sayantan Biswas, an aspirant who along with 10 other fellow aspirants have petitioned SC for postponing the exam; stay 200km away from the nearest exam centre.

He says, “This means they will have to leave a day in advance. Where will they stay? Where will they eat? How will they get there?”

Assam and Bihar have been devastated by flood, which have affected more than 8 million people; which includes a huge number of aspirants for JEE and NEET.

On Friday, India recorded 77,266 confirmed cases; highest in a day, with more than 1000 people losing their lives due to infection. The stats of virus infection is fretting, both for students as well as their family.

What is the government’s say?

National Testing Agency (NTA), amalgamate part of education ministry of India; who conducts these exams, says that the exams have been postponed many times due to the pandemic, and now it can not behold over any more.

Justice Arun Mishra while declining the plea for postponing the exams said; “Life should move on even in COVID-19 times. Can we just stop the exams? We should move on.”

Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, education minister of India says that many students want the exam to happen. Like a shred of evidence he said that of all who have enrolled for the exam, 80% have already downloaded admit cards. There is also another group of students who don’t want the exams to be postponed.

Supporting hands for students

Most of the students want it to be postponed. JEE and NEET aspirants are getting support for various politicians including opposition leader Rahul Gandhi,  BJP MP Subramanian Swamy, Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee, etc.

Six states of India, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Chattisgarh, Punjab and Maharashtra are officially seeking the supreme court to review its decision. Greta Thunberg has also supported students on twitter with #PostponeJEE_NEETinCOVID.

If the supreme court would not change its decision, student would be left with no choice but to sit in exams, risking their and their families life. While many students might not even be able to attend the exam, ruining their entier year.

Supreme Court must give their decision another thought, because million of lives depends upon it.