Will Indian Govt Back Down on Holding JEE & NEET? Now Greta Thunberg Requests Exam Postponement

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Will Indian Govt Back Down on Holding JEE & NEET? Now Greta Thunberg Requests Exam Postponement

Illustration: Mitesh Parmar

As the month of August draws to an end, tensions are rising for students and their families across India. In September, the National Testing Agency (NTA) has announced plans to hold the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) and National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET), despite prevailing fears over the Covid-19 pandemic. Indian students have been protesting online, requesting the government to further postpone the examination, and now, one of the world’s most prominent student activists has amplified their message. Greta Thunberg, the climate activist, joined the chorus of voices requesting that the JEE and NEET examinations be postponed.

Thunberg has also been joined by several fellow climate change activists in supporting India’s medical and engineering students’ demands. Eight-year-old Licypriya Kangujam, who has been referred to as “India’s Greta Thunberg” by the media in the past, also posted a video expressing solidarity with the students. Kangujam also called on states’ Chief Ministers and parliamentarians to voice their support for the students in their electorates.

Other international voices that have joined in on behalf of the students demanding postponement was 23-year-old Vanessa Nakate, an Ethiopian climate change activist. Declaring that she was responding to Kanjugam’s call for people to take up the cause of Indian students, Nakate also tweeted demanding the postponement of the exams.

The NTA has released the dates of the examinations – JEE will be conducted from 1 to 6 September, and NEET will be held on 13 September. It also released safety guidelines, such as wearing a mask and gloves in the examination centre, thermal scanning before entry into the hall, and “isolation rooms” for candidates with symptoms. All signs point to the NTA holding the examination in September, after the Supreme Court dismissed a petition seeking further postponement of the exams on 17 August.

The JEE and NEET exams are a crucial stepping stone for India’s future engineers and doctors, but this year might be the only one where they will be tested even before entering the exam hall.