Those advocating the postponement of the engineering and medical entrance examinations — Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) Mains and National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) — are missing out on two critical points. First, any further delay in conducting the entrance tests, already postponed twice due to the coronavirus pandemic, will result in students losing an academic year. Second, there is no certainty about when the Covid-19 outbreak will be totally brought under control and, therefore, no comfortable timeline can be set for it. There is no justification to sacrifice an academic year and compromise the future of the youth at a time when people are getting back to lead their normal lives and economic activity is being resumed. However, all necessary guidelines must be followed for the smooth and safe conduct of the nationwide exams. Like every year, this year too millions of students have passed their Class 12 exams and are now eagerly waiting to take the next step. Some political parties like the Congress, DMK, Shiv Sena and the Trinamool Congress have waded into the debate and sought deferment of exams just to score political brownie points. Instead of trying to play the card of political correctness by citing the Covid-19 scare as the reason for their demand, they must clearly say when the entrance tests should be held, if not now, and by what time they think the pandemic will wither away. They are only trying to play with the future of students to pursue their political agenda.
It must be pointed out that the Supreme Court has also dismissed a plea seeking postponement of these exams, saying precious years of students cannot be wasted and that life has to go on. As of now, there is no clear timeline for restoring complete normalcy, though vaccine development is moving at a fast pace. It is a classic case of double standards that those arguing for deferring the examinations are the ones who have been at the forefront of the demand for resumption of economic activities. However, there should be no two opinions about strict adherence to preventive norms during the conduct of the exams. Over 25 lakh candidates have registered for the twin exams — around 9.53 lakh for JEE-Mains to be held from September 1 to 6 and 15.97 lakh for NEET to be held on September 13. Special arrangements are in place in tune with the Covid-19 guidelines. In order to minimise the risk of infection, separate isolation rooms would be earmarked for candidates showing Covid-19 symptoms while fresh masks would be provided at the exam centres with staggered reporting slots for students, apart from ensuring physical distancing, use of sanitisers and thermal screening.
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