Many medical and IIT aspirants in Tamil Nadu are demanding postponement of the JEE, NEET entrance exams till the Covid situation improves, in the state – which still records around 6,000 cases every day – and across the country, both.
B Krithika, daughter of a driver father and domestic help mother, aspires to become a doctor, but doesn’t know how she would take the common entrance test, NEET, on September 13 – there is no public transport in Tamil Nadu yet. That Sunday, the state could also be under total lockdown as it has been over the last few months.
Many among the lakh-plus applicants from Tamil Nadu share Krithika’s problem as only 14 of the state’s 33 districts have NEET centres. “How do we go to the exam centre? Even autos won’t be available on a total-lockdown day,” she says.
Transport aside, Krithika has a bigger worry – going to the toilet at the exam centre. “What if girls contract the virus when they share toilets?” the young student wonders thinking about the consequences of using the restroom that may have been recently used by a Covid-positive person.
In another part of Chennai, Deepshitha is doubly anxious as she has signed up for NEET and JEE, and has to travel to the neighbouring Kancheepuram district – another Corona hotspot – for one of the exams. Though her parents could drop her to the exam centre in their car, she also wants these exams postponed.
“If we are alive only then we can we go to medical college after taking NEET, right? We don’t know the extent to which social distancing would be maintained; even parents will accompany students. Our lives are more important,” says Deekshitha, the daughter of an IT professional in the banking industry.
During the early lockdown period, around 30,000 students in Tamil Nadu could not take the class 12 exams, which were held separately for them at a later date. Now, the state’s total Covid caseload has crossed three lakh and there are 52,000 active cases.
DMK Chief M K Stalin has demanded postponement of these exams and an assembly session to reject the JEE and NEET exams. Though the Tamil Nadu govt opposes these exams, the ruling AIADMK – an ally of the BJP – is toeing the centre’s line by not seeking postponement.
Government sources indicate special buses could be deployed to help students.