Amid Covid, Nearly 16 Lakh Students To Take NEET Today: 10 Points

Amid Covid, Nearly 16 Lakh Students To Take NEET Today: 10 Points

Amid Covid, Nearly 16 Lakh Students To Take NEET Today: 10 Points

States have announced measures to assist those appearing for the exam. (Representational)

New Delhi:
The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) – for admission to medical courses across the country – will be held today. States have announced special measures, including easing of restrictions and transportation. The conduct of the NEET amid the Covid pandemic was challenged by some students and opposition-ruled states, who argued that holding these exams at this time would endanger the lives of students. Last month the Supreme Court was petitioned to defer both NEET and the JEE (for admission to IITs) but the court said the exams could be held with strict restrictions on contact and social distancing. The JEE has already been held and results have been declared. On Wednesday the court declined to hear any further petitions on deferring NEET.

Here is your ten-point cheat sheet on this big story:

  1. As directed by the top court and centre, the National Testing Agency (NTA), which is in charge of conducting competitive entrance tests, has released an extensive list of guidelines for the exam. These include staggered reporting times and seating to ensure social distancing. Students must also wear face masks and gloves and carry their own hand sanitiser and a water bottle.

  2. There will be “isolation rooms” for candidates whose body temperature is above the prescribed limit. The NTA has also sought a self-declaration that says candidates do not have any symptoms or suffer from Covid or have not been in touch with a Covid-positive person.

  3. Nearly 2.3 lakh students have registered for NEET in Maharashtra alone, which is the state worst-affected by the Covid pandemic. Around 1.67 lakh students will take the exam in Uttar Pradesh, while Karnataka has around 1.19 lakh students, Tamil Nadu has 1.18 lakh and Kerala 1.16 lakh. Together these states account for over 8.57 lakh NEET aspirants. Overall, more than 16 lakh students have registered for this exam.

  4. States have announced measures to assist those appearing for the exam. Bengal has cancelled the Covid lockdown scheduled for the day and will operate special Metro services in Kolkata for students. Punjab has lifted its weekend curfew, although non-essential services will remain closed. The two states, combined, have nearly 90,000 aspirants.

  5. Odisha has announced free transportation and accommodation for candidates needing to travel long distances to write the exam. Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh have also promised assistance to students travelling to sit for the NEET exam. In Mumbai, the Railways will run special trains to ferry candidates and their parents. In Bihar too special trains – 20 of them – will be operated.

  6. Two Tamil Nadu NEET candidates died by suicide on Saturday, state police said. One student was the son of a scrap merchant from Dharmapuri, who sat for the exam last year but failed to clear it. The other was a 19-year-old girl from Madurai who was on the waitlist after sitting for the exam last year. On Wednesday a third student – a 19-year-old boy from the state’s Ariyalur district – died by suicide after failing to clear the exam in two previous attempts.

  7. Opposition leaders, including Congress MP Rahul Gandhi, Maharashtra cabinet minister Aaditya Thackeray and DMK chief MK Stalin had asked the government to reconsider holding the JEE and NEET exams during the pandemic. Opposition chief ministers, including Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee, who said states were being “bulldozed” in the name of federalism, approached the top court, but were turned down.

  8. On September 1, the first day of the JEE, the attendance rate in UP’s Lucknow was below 60 per cent. It was around 25 per cent in Bengal, Ms Banerjee claimed, with several students complaining of difficulties in traveling to their exam centres. In Gujarat, around 45 per cent of student skipped the first day, the state government said.

  9. On Saturday evening, with hours to go for the exam, #BanNEET and #NEETisSocial_Injustice began trending on Twitter.

  10. Last month the Supreme Court said “careers of students cannot be put under jeopardy” and rejected a petition by 11 students to postpone both the JEE and the NEET. “Life cannot be stopped. We have to move ahead with safeguards and all… Are students ready to waste one whole year? Covid may continue for a year more,” the court said.

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