Maharashtra Environment and Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray on Thursday defended the state government’s stand on not holding final year or final semester college examinations and held that it is potentially hazardous given the high number of coronavirus cases in the state.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on June 25 and urged him to instruct national-level apex authorities to endorse the state’s decision on cancellation of these examinations, and to issue necessary guidelines to universities.
The University Grants Commission, however, has said that all universities must hold final year/final semester exams by the end of September, either offline or online.
But Aaditya asked: “How will you hold exams [at this juncture]? We were in lockdown when we had about 600 cases [in March]. Today, when the country has about 7 lakh cases, we are actually asking children to go out in a congregation and take exams. We are asking teachers who may be 50-60 years, a vulnerable age group [for the virus], to come out and conduct the exams…. All this will lead to congregations of people from different areas, including [those] from containment zones.”
“Why did we not have exams when we had only 600 cases of infection [in March]; why are we doing it now when we have around 7 lakh cases,” he reiterated.
Aaditya also heads Yuva Sena, the Shiv Sena’s youth wing, which has been vocal in its demand for cancellation of exams.
The Sena-Congress-NCP Mahavikas Aghadi government took the decision to scrap final year/final semester exams against the advice of a committee it had set up to make recommendations in the matter.
Aaditya, who was in conversation with Anant Goenka, executive director of The Indian Express Group, at the FICCI FRAMES 2020 programme on Thursday, said: “Due to the flip-flop of UGC from March, many children who have applied [to study] abroad got admissions on aggregate marks. They would miss out an entire year if we hold exams in September. It may take a minimum four or five months for the entire process, and the students will miss out on jobs and education further.”
On the government’s formula for marking final semester/final year students by aggregating their performance in previous semesters, or previous years, he said: “Even after getting the aggregate marks, if they think they want to strive for excellence we will give them an opportunity to take an exam whenever this [lockdown] opens up. We are not taking away the opportunity for anyone to write an academic exam.”
Maharashtra, which has reported nearly 2.3 lakh Covid-19 cases, has extended lockdown until July 31.
Aaditya, a first-time MLA from Worli Assembly constituency in Mumbai, also said that Bollywood ambassadors should not endorse Chinese products in the middle of the LAC tension in Ladakh.
“If there is aggression from another country on our country, that is where we need to take a firm stand and say this is not something our country stands for, and therefore we don’t endorse your products…. Standing with our country and with our government are two different things, but at this time we should stand together as one for the country,” he said.
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