A few days ago, the HRD Ministry has released a revised set of guidelines from the UGC, wherein universities have been asked to conduct terminal semester or final year exams by September 30.
This decision, coming as it does against the backdrop of the COVID-19 outbreak has triggered a lot of criticism from some quarters.
While the West Bengal government had recently expressed it's displeasure at the guidelines, the Odisha government had written to the Education Ministry expressing a wish to adhere to their earlier instructions and keeping the exams cancelled.
Now, Maharashtra appears to have joined the discussion, with Tourism and Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray tweeting on Thursday that it was an "absurd" decision. In a lengthy thread he wrote that unless the HRD Ministry and the UGC "take responsibility for the health of each student appearing for exams", it remained a mystery whether the bodies were aware of the constantly growing COVID-19 case tally in the country.
"The decision of the HRD Ministry of Union Govt, and the UGC is absolutely absurd and probably from an alternate universe. I urge UGC to not make this a silly issue of egos and realise that lakhs of lives of students, teachers, non teaching staff are at stake," he said.
"Mental stress, incomplete syllabus, highest risk to students and teachers, but while the top universities of the world skip exams, our HRD Ministry and UGC enforce exams on students. Nowhere in the world is academic excellence dependent onone exam, other than our HRD and UGC," he added.
Thackeray said that the Maha Vikas Aghadi government that rules Maharashtra had decided upon a formula that would ensure that students are treated fairly. Under this, he suggested that students be passed on aggregate of their past performance in past semesters and simultaneously be given a choice to appear for exams when it is possible later.
"It seems that while the entire country- Union Govt, State Govts, ULBs and Panchayats are trying to manage covid, reduce new cases and save lives, the HRD Ministry and UGC wants to just do the opposite," he alleged.
Earlier in the day, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had also criticised the decision, stating that it was "extremely unfair".
"UGC must hear the voice of the students and academics. Exams should be cancelled and students promoted on basis of past performance,' he had said.