For a man who claims to have written a book called ‘Exam Warriors’ which propagates a stress-free life, Narendra Modi seems completely cut off from the realities of the world. He and his administration cannot escape culpability for heightening the magnitude of the Covid-19 pandemic in India. They not only failed to act on time, but also held mass public events that increased chances of spreading the virus such as the ‘Namaste Trump’ event. As the BJP incompetence is certain to make India the worst affected country, their adamance in pushing students to write exams is baffling.
The UNESCO estimates that 157 crore students across the world; 32 in India, or over 91% of the students have been impacted by the pandemic. Yet, the BJP refuses to be guided by common sense and is putting the lives of crores of students in danger by insisting that exams are held. It claims that the universities can decide whether to conduct the exams conventionally or online. Surely the BJP is not oblivious to the fact that there are millions of students who do not have access to the requisite facilities to appear for online exams. By forcing students to physically appear for exams, they will be risking the lives of millions of students. In Karnataka, there were reports of over 30 students being afflicted by Covid-19 after they had to appear for the SSLC exams. How does one not learn from past mistakes?
The adamance and arrogance of the BJP is hard to comprehend. The only certainty is that these are unmissable traits of an authoritarian government. They will do well to remember that students have played an integral part in challenging and even overthrowing authoritarian governments across the world. From the May 1968 movement in France to the 14th of June movement against dictator Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic; from the opposition to the US involvement in the Vietnam war to the White Rose movement which challenged Nazi Germany, there are myriad examples of students resisting authoritarian regimes and being conscience keepers of society. Those with an authoritarian streak are aware of this and almost always make unveiled attempts to stifle student activism. Since the BJP came to power, it has displayed discomfiture in dealing with students and has attacked university after university destroying India’s intellectual prowess.
However, after each affront the students voices only got louder and with the sinister decision of the BJP to put students’ lives in danger, students across India are speaking up against the BJP government in one voice. The response to the Congress party’s ‘Speak Up India’ campaign has been immense and in their fourth protest they are focusing on students’ issues. The #SpeakUpForStudents campaign is witnessing participation from students across India. The primary demand is that the government must cancel all exams and promote students based on their previous performance. They also demand that fees be cancelled/reimbursed given the economic disaster that has been inflicted on India by the BJP’s incompetent and unthinking policies.
The BJP has failed on all fronts and its unfounded allegations against the opposition to blame them for the government’s incompetence cuts no ice. With the ICE, (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) in the USA calling for students whose courses are being delivered entirely online due to the pandemic to leave the country, the government in India will face the heat for not being able to intervene despite Narendra Modi often bragging that he enjoys a cordial relationship with President Trump.
Every passing week the BJP’s incompetence is pushing India into deeper crisis on several fronts and all sections of society are responding by speaking up against the government. The alleged ‘Exam Warrior’ and his clique’s dictatorial fantasies will be interrupted by students speaking up for India and standing up for national welfare.