The Dilemma of Conducting Exams

                                                     

The world is not an inn but a hospital

– Sir Thomas Browne

Yesterday, India was declared as the country with fastest growing Corona cases. We witnessed about 79,000 fresh cases, highest single day spike in any country. So, it becomes more relevant for me to write about the controversy that is brewing up – should we postpone the upcoming entrance examinations which are the JEE and NEET? The apex court has given its decision that life has to go on and therefore exams should not be postponed further. After the decision, an upheaval took place in social media by the students requesting the government to do what the Supreme Court had rejected. Opposition parties came together and decided to file a review petition in court. But the contradiction is, the states where these parties are in power are conducting other exams.

Yes, I accept what the court said that life has to go on, but at a time when parliament is shut, state assemblies are conducting 2–3 days sessions, transportation is not working properly and even the SC is working virtually, then how can you push the students forward? I believe that the exams should be postponed and we need to address the issues which we should have done till now. I will be using the suggestions of various professors and experts for this piece.

Well, I feel that the SC has not given a bad decision. Their concern was perfectly fine that the students should not be in loss and it should not become a zero year for them. But, the petitioners did not tell the court that postponing the exams won’t lead to a zero year. Most of the colleges in India have a semester system and it is purely a myth that a semester is of 6 months.

Academic Calendar of IIT-Delhi

All the IITs and most of the colleges have a semester of 14-16 weeks as shown above. Further there is this model proposed by Prof. Faizan Mustafa, VC of NALSAR, to ensure that this year does not become a zero year.

According to what he says, if exams are conducted in October and semester starts from 1st December, then 16 weeks means that semester will end on 30th march. The semester-end examinations will probably take 2 weeks and the second semester could be initiated from 16th April and end by 15th august. Again, the exams will take 2 weeks so the second semester can very easily be finished by 30th August. So, without touching the syllabus and the time of the semester we have concluded everything. Rapid Checking and Fast Admissions could prove to be a bonus point for starting the semester from 1st November. This would complete the syllabus even earlier. Also, schools have reduced 30% of the syllabus so the same could be applied to the colleges as well.

The Supreme Court previously had said that 30th September should be the last date of admissions but the court itself has given endless judgments which stated otherwise. Priya Gupta Vs State of Chattisgarh 2012, is one the many cases where the Supreme Court stated that admission dates can be extended ‘in very rare and exceptional cases of pressing emergency’. And the current pandemic can definitely be categorized as a ‘pressing emergency’.

The students came out to protest because there remain plenty of problems for them. Their health, poor transportation, high fares in private taxies, flooded areas and most importantly, the risk they would be exposing themselves and their families to, are the concerns which I don’t think so any govt. official has addressed. Bihar has only two districts, Gaya and Patna which have the centres for JEE. We all know about the extreme flood conditions that Bihar is facing right now because of the monsoons. We could have a one month window and ask the District Magistrates to prepare centres in their respective districts. This can ensure that the children do not have to go too far for giving their exams. Although, the CLAT 2020 exam dates have been postponed to 28th September, but, there have been no clarification for JEE and NEET. I think if the government wants to fight against this pandemic, then they should be the one to initiate and not the students. They should open up the parliament and say “yes, if we can do it, then you can as well”. And if not, then, as Sanket Upadhyay brilliantly said, “If politicians understands this language, then remember, these students and their families are going to vote in 2024 elections.”

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