As the country is battling with the increasing cases of COVID-19 day by day, there is another battle going on in the educational ecosystem of India. The battle over conducting the engineering and medical entrance tests - JEE (Main) April 2020 and NEET-Undergraduate examinations- in September.
In the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, parents and students wanted the postponement of JEE and NEET, however, the Ministry of Education clarified that the competitive exams will be held in September as it was scheduled.
According to the All India Students Association (AISA), over 4,200 students observed the day-long hunger strike at their respective home demanding that CBSE compartment exams of Classes 10 and 12 be cancelled and entrance exams such as the UGC-NET, CLAT, NEET and JEE be postponed.
As the date of the exam is coming closer, the outrage on social media is increasing day by day. Many politicians across the party lines have also supported the students in their protest.
What is the controversy around JEE and NEET?
As the COVID-19 cases surged in the country, several pleas were filed in the Supreme Court against the notification of conducting JEE and NEET in September. On 17 August, the Supreme Court dismissed a plea seeking postponement of these exams. The top court has said that the year of students "cannot be wasted" and life has to go on.
The plea, filed by 11 students belonging to 11 states, had sought quashing of the July 3 notices issued by the National Testing Agency (NTA), by which it was decided to conduct the exams in September.
The plea, filed through advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava, had referred to COVID-19 pandemic and said authorities be directed to conduct these exams only after normalcy is restored.
The plea had also alleged that authorities concerned have ignored the plight of lakhs of students from Bihar, Assam and northeastern states, which are presently reeling under flood, and conducting either online or offline exams in such places may not be possible.
When are JEE and NEET scheduled to be held?
As per the public notices issued by NTA, JEE (Main) April 2020 is scheduled from September 1-6, while NEET-UG 2020 exam is scheduled for September 13.
What were the different hashtags used for the protest?
Which politicians are supporting the postponement of JEE and NEET?
On August 23, Rahul Gandhi took to Twitter and posted: “GOI must listen to the #StudentsKeMannKiBaat about NEET, JEE exams and arrive at an acceptable solution.”
Along with Rahul Gandhi, several leaders like MP and National President Lok Janshakti Party Chirag Paswan, the opposition leader in Bihar Tejashwi Yadav, Rajya Sabha MP from BJP Subramanian Swamy and Priyanka Gandhi are supporting the cause.
In addition to this, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Maharashtra Minister Aditya Thackeray yesterday wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to postpone JEE, NEET and that are scheduled to be held in September.
DMK chief MK Stalin also joined the chorus against holding the NEET, JEE 2020 exams amidst the ongoing pandemic. Yesterday Stalin wrote a letter to Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, requesting him to postpone the exams till the COVID-19 situation improves.
A day earlier, senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal had also demanded the same.
Recently, Delhi Education Minister Manish Sisodia had also urged the centre to rethink the decision to hold the exams and "make the alternate arrangement".
(With inputs from agencies)