Entrance examinations being conducted in India despite rising COVID-19 cases

India has now reported over 360,000 Covid-19 cases, and this number is increasing at an exponential rate. Amidst this crisis, the National Testing Agency(NTA) in India has announced the decision to conduct the postponed entrance examinations in the month of September. This news comes amid India topping the United States with the highest number of new cases in a single day.

The Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) and National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) are one of the most competitive examinations in India. Students put in years of hard work for these exams to secure a seat in the best engineering/medical colleges in India.

The JEE Mains and NEET were to be conducted in the month of April and May 2020, respectively. Due to the pandemic, they were postponed for an indefinite time until the NTA announcement in July issued for examination centers. The JEE Main will be conducted from 1st September to 6th September 2020, while NEET will be conducted on 13th September 2020.

Eight hundred fifty-eight thousand two hundred seventy-three candidates have registered for the JEE Mains, and 1,597,433 candidates have registered for the NEET.

Read Also: India sets world record with highest single-day COVID-19 cases rise

How will the exams be conducted?

Specific guidelines have been issued by the NTA for the examination centers. This is to maintain precautionary norms while conducting the examination. Candidates with viral-like symptoms will not be allowed to enter the examination center.

To provide adequate transportation for the candidates traveling to their respective centers, a portal ‘Eduride’ has been launched by the Indian Institute of Technology(IIT) students and alumni. The candidates who live in remote and poorly connected areas have benefited from this initiative. Mumbai Railways has allowed candidates to travel using their admit cards. Candidates in flood-hit areas have requested the NTA to rescheduled their examinations.

Arguments against conducting the exams

The decision to conduct the exams in the middle of a worldwide pandemic sparked anger amongst many students and parents. Leaders of the opposition parties took to Twitter to question the government.

On 6th August, a plea was filed by Advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava stating, ” While deciding to conduct the aforesaid JEE Mains and NEET UG-2020 exams in September 2020, the respondents (NTA and others) have overlooked that many states have refused to allow conducting of any professional or non-professional exams in their states at this stage and hence the same is likely to cause unimaginable harassment to the petitioners and other similarly situated students.”

The Supreme Court dismissed the plea on 17th August 2020, saying that the postponement of the exams will put the ‘career of students in peril’. Justice Arun Mishra, who was heading the case, said, “Life should move on even in COVID-19 times. Can we just stop exams? We should move on. If exams are not held, won’t it be a loss to the country? Students will lose the academic year.”

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Source: India Today

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