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JEE and NEET are national-level entrance exams for professional courses
JEE and NEET are national-level entrance exams for professional courses

NEET, JEE 2020 amid pandemic: All you need to know about the debate around the exams

  • Politicians including Congress' Rahul Gandhi and BJP's Subramaniam Swamy are urging the govt to postpone the exams and listen to students' plea
  • On 17 August, SC dismissed a plea seeking postponement of these exams, saying precious year of students 'cannot be wasted' and life has to go on

A lot has been spoken and discussed over the postponement of Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) and National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) in the wake of novel coronavirus pandemic. However, Ministry of Education clarified that the competitive exams will take place in September as it was scheduled.

Meanwhile, the chorus for postponing various examinations, including NEET and JEE, grew louder on Sunday with over 4,000 students observing a day-long hunger strike to press for the demand in view of rising COVID-19 cases.

Politicians including Congress' Rahul Gandhi and Bhartiya Janata Party's Subramaniam Swamy are now joining the cause, urging the government to postpone the exams and listen to students' plea.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also appealed to the Centre to assess the risk and postpone the exams until the situation becomes conducive.

Here is a lowdown on NEET, JEE 2020 controversy:

On 17 August, the Supreme Court dismissed a plea seeking postponement of these exams, saying precious 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 Joint Entrance Examination (Main) April 2020 and National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET)-Undergraduate 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. Srivastava for the petitioners told the court that lakhs of students are looking to Supreme Court for relief.

The plea had also sought direction to the authorities to increase the number of examination centres.

It had alleged that NTA has indefinitely postponed the National Council of Hotel Management Joint Entrance Examination-2020, which was scheduled to be conducted on June 22, in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The plea had also alleged that authorities concerned have ignored the plight of lakhs of students from Bihar, Assam and north eastern states, which are presently reeling under flood, and conducting either online or offline exams in such places may not be possible.

When are the JEE, NEET 2020 exams 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 are the politicians saying?

  • Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said the government must listen to the 'mann ki baat' of students and arrive at "an acceptable solution" and his party demanded that the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) and the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) be deferred.
  • Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on Sunday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to defer the competitive exams till the COVID-19 situation improves.
  • Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh also urged the Centre today to conduct these exams after reviewing the agony of students who are in "extreme distress" due to COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Saturday appealed to the central government to cancel medical and engineering entrance exams JEE and NEET in view of the COVID-19 situation. He also said that an alternative admission methodology should be used this year and the exams should not be conducted.
  • On Friday, Bhartiya Janata Party leader and Rajya Sabha member Subramanian Swamy said that he has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as the education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal to conduct the entrance examinations of NEET, JEE and other competitive exams till after Diwali, in the wake of novel coronavirus pandemic. He also cited that the Supreme Court "doesn't bind the government at all, on whether to now or two weeks later or two months later, the examinations. It is a policy decision of the Government."

Universities and schools across the country have been closed since March 16 when the Centre announced a countrywide classroom shutdown as part of measures to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. A nationwide lockdown was announced on March 24, which came into effect the next day and threw economic activities out of gear.

India's Covid-19 tally sprinted past the 30-lakh mark on Sunday, just 16 days after it crossed 20 lakh, while 22,80,566 people have recuperated in the country so far pushing the recovery rate to 74.90 per cent, according to the Union Health Ministry data.

With inputs from agencies

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