By the Editor: Siddharth Sehgal
“We should do to others, what we want for ourselves; in short that is the essence of Dharma”
~ Vidura, Udyog Parva, Mahabharata
I don’t think our ruling politicians have read much of Mahabharata; in fact, I don’t think they are that read as they claim to be. Whoever wants to learn anything about governance, ethics and code of conduct of a ruler should read Mahabharata once. Words spoken by the wise prime minister of Hastinapur, can still teach presidents, prime ministers and chief minsters a thing or two about politics but that is not the point here. The point is that our Prime Minister and his cabinet are working and conducting all their affairs remotely, that includes meetings, award ceremonies etc. they emphasize the point by minimizing public appearances and yet these same folks want lakhs of students across the country to sit for NEET and JEE exams, somehow no one saw the irony in this small fact.
Despite public concerns, the government has decided to conduct exams nationwide. The Supreme Court has also decided in favor of exams but given when we have highest cases of Covid-19 in our country and everyday we have record breaking numbers of patients coming to hospitals with this infectious disease, shouldn’t we be more judicious in our approach when it comes to organizing public events such as JEE and NEET exams. Almost all the prominent institutions in the country be it IISc, IIT, IIMs or JNU have either cancelled classes or have switched to online mode, If they are finding it difficult to hold in person classes when there are fifty to sixty students at max, imagine how difficult will be to conduct a national exam involving lakhs of students. States like UP, Bihar, Assam and MP are also struggling with floods. Many students have to travel to other states for giving their exams and with hotels and public transportation not running to full capacity, how are they going to appear in exam with a calm mind and confidence. Many tier-2 and tier-3 cities have abysmal response to Covid-19 pandemic, conducting exams in such locations will only mean adding fuel to the fire by exposing students and their families to this health risk.
I understand that many students have worked hard for these qualifying exams and postponing it may result in anxiety, mental pressure and increased load of preparation but these are not the normal times we are living in. Our priority should be to save as many lives as possible. Students should be allowed to sit in exams again next year; government should make special provisions for this academic year and admit more students in next session year but our ruling party has made it an ego issue to go forward with exams. We have failed miserably in our response to this pandemic, which is the stark and grim reality of India.
Ill planned and hasty decisions have cost us economy, employment and lives, we should be wise and generous in our approach.