For India, it is the season of examinations. The country has been reeling under an economic slowdown and the Coronavirus pandemic. During this time, the Centre has failed in all tests so much so that it is looking at God to resolve its problems. Despite being on the brink of helplessness and frustration, the Centre is being stubborn over conducting Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) and National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) examinations for admission to engineering and medical colleges respectively. It is all set to conduct the examinations as though the country’s future is dependent on these examinations. 

As the number of incidents of the Coronavirus is increasing alarmingly on a daily basis, students, parents, and leaders of several political parties all over the country are demanding that JEE, NEET, and other entrance examinations for professional courses be postponed. Regardless of the opposition, the Centre has taken a firm decision to conduct the JEE-NEET examinations. But, the campaign for postponing JEE-NEET for admission to medical colleges is gathering steam. 

The concept of examination by itself creates a lot of stress. There is no doubt that conducting these examinations amidst so much of pressure can lead to disastrous consequences. Having spread fear among the people about the Coronavirus and having imposed a nation-wide lockdown for two months and thereby destroying the lives of people, it is ironical that the Centre is now treating the Coronavirus lightly and wants to conduct the examinations. The Centre does not seem to care about the impact that the conduct of such public examinations could have on the health of the students and has completely failed to address students concerns. 

The likelihood of the Coronavirus infecting students who write the examinations for several hours sitting together in the same room is very high. The future of students would certainly be endangered if examinations on such a massive scale are conducted in countries such as India that are struggling in the face of lack of adequate basic infrastructure to fight the  pandemic. According to an estimate, close to 25 lakh students are expected to write the JEE-NEET examinations. It is possible that these students can get infected during the examinations. Even if these students are asymptomatic, the infection could spread through them to their parents and their grand parents and the impact of such a spread cannot even be imagined. The Centre that has failed completely to tackle the spread of the virus will, by conducting the examinations, only be creating a way to increase the number of the infected. 

Besides, the transportation facilities all over the country have been skeletal after Covid-19 and this could create problems for students who have to reach the examination centres in time. Also, questions arise over how far the government can succeed in implementing its decision to establish isolation wards in all examination centres for students who are symptomatic. Moreover, forcing symptomatic students to travel outside their homes is like inviting them to get infected. Amidst such an imminent health threat and the high level of anxieties, the Narendra Modi government has stuck to its decision to conduct these examinations. The Supreme Court has also justified the Centre’s stand by stating that students would be losing out a precious year if the examinations are to be postponed. 

The decision of the Centre to conduct the examinations by completely ignoring the concerns of students and parents is diametrically opposite to its stand of imposing a nation-wide lockdown in March. The Modi government had imposed on March 24 a nation-wide lockdown to stop the spread of the Coronavirus. The lockdown was so stringent that the transportation facilities all over the country came to a complete standstill and lakhs of migrant workers lost their jobs, hunger and poverty staring at them. The police went to the extent of wielding their lathis on people who ventured out to buy food and other essentials. In the absence of any alternative, many migrants left on foot to reach their villages hundreds of miles away. The situation became so grave that hundreds of people lost their lives due to the lockdown. In a hurry to reach their villages, many migrants lost their lives en route because of sheer exhaustion, hunger, and health problems. Several others lost their lives in accidents. People are now wondering why the Centre is so stubborn in conducting these examinations in this background and when it had imposed a lockdown across the country to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus in the first place. 

In the midst of the pandemic, parliament sessions are taking place in various countries. But, in India, there is a reluctance to convene parliament. The Centre is hesitating to gather MPs who number a few hundreds and conduct proceedings. It is possible for the government to ensure the safety of the members of parliament during the session as their number is small, but the government is not ready to take any risk in the case of MPs. With this being the case, the government should answer the question as to how far the government can succeed in protecting lakhs of students who will appear for the JEE-NEET examinations. Politicians who take so much care about their health should adopt the same attitude towards the youth of the country. The Centre should immediately heed the demand of the youth. 

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Mangaluru:Former Congress MLA Mohiuddin Bava on Wednesday claimed he received a call from an unknown person objecting to his participation in the ongoing Navaratri celebrations at a temple here.

Bava, who had represented from Mangaluru North segment, said he has lodged a police complaint about it.

The Congress leader said he visited the Gurupura Ambika Annapoorneshwari temple at Bajpe here and took part in the rituals following an invite by its priest.

Later, he got a call from a man, who identified himself as Anil from Mumbai and raised objections to his visit, saying It's not Nehru period, it's a Modi period, Bava alleged.

"A Muslim should not go to the temple, a beef eater and Muslim should not visit temple," the caller had told him, he claimed, adding the conversation was recorded by him.

Bava said he told the caller that he went to the temple on invitation and added he had not differentiated between communities in his political life.