Published: 11th August 2020
We cannot give our lives for an exam: Why students went to SC to get NEET postponed by at least a month
Their major concern is that not only will they contract the disease themselves but they will also infect their parents and senior citizens at home
While India battles the COVID-19 virus, students are against appearing for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) as they are scared they will spread the virus even more. The students are not limited to hashtags of #NTAPostponeNEET_JEE as protest on social media — more than 11 students from as many states have moved the Supreme Court petitioning for the postponement of JEE Main 2020 and NEET 2020 examination scheduled to be conducted in the month of September. The next date of hearing is scheduled on August 14.
Their major concern is that not only will they contract the disease themselves but they will also infect their parents and senior citizens at home. Kakumanu Leela Sudarshan, who is taking NEET for the second time, is scared that he will put his grandparents at risk if he has to go write the exam. "It's not that I am not prepared. I have been scoring very well in my mock tests and in the National Test Abhyas app. So, it's not about academics. We are only concerned about the health issues," he added.
Advocate Alakh Alok Shrivastav, appearing for the students, said that the students only want a postponement and not a cancellation. "The exam has been rescheduled twice now — both the times the number of active cases was substantially lesser than it is now. The only logic NTA argued with was that they are postponing the exam because of the seriousness of the COVID-19 crisis. The basic grounds of our argument is going to be that despite the worsening of the health crisis, they are not postponing it now. Secondly, these are all Class 12 students and all the other exams for these kids have been postponed. Thirdly, we are not asking for cancellation but for a postponement till a time when normalcy is restored," he said.
"We are not worried about the exams but about the hassles and the expenses of the medical treatment of the COVID-19 crisis. The SC has also taken suo moto cognisance and accepted that the situation of government medical colleges as far as treatment of COVID-19 is concerned is pathetic. Recently, now has admitted another petition by a victim who had to shell out a lot of money while being treated for COVID-19 in a private hospital. When the private and public institutions are exploitative or not working efficiently, how is it a good idea to go ahead with the exams?" asked Shrivastav.
Manish Chaubey, one of the petitioners, said that they want the Minister of Education Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' and the National Testing Agency to postpone NEET and JEE because a crisis is not the time to add pressure on a child to make career choices. "My hometown is in Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh and I am in Mumbai at present. It will be a hassle and immensely risky to travel now. Why should I have to put my parents through this?" he asked.
The Research Scholars of India (RSI) have also written to the Prime Minister, Chairperson of NTA, MHRD and Dr Harsh Vardhan, Minister of Health and Family Welfare urging the government to postpone NEET. "In light of the concern of the safety, security and good health of the students and their families, and the general financial situation of the average student of India, we hereby wish to request you to reconsider the decision to conduct the entrance examinations and postpone them till such time that the pandemic is not under reasonable control. We do not wish to see young brilliant minds and their families in any kind of risk or distress, and it would be a great service to them if you could kindly accommodate this request," the letter from Nikhil Gupta, National Representative and Coordinator of RSI said.
But will postponing the exams make the students lose a year? Sudarshan said that there is nothing the students cannot make up with extra classes and intense lectures. "We are already late but we cannot give up our lives for an exam. Even if it happens in September, the results will be out 15 days later. What we can rather opt for is going for a two-phase counselling process rather than three stages and then expedite the classes to catch up. Postponing the exam for another one or two months won't make much of a difference," said the aspirant.