Climate activist and global icon Greta Thunberg today put her weight behind the nationwide "postpone JEE NEET" movement saying conducting exams during coronavirus pandemic and extreme floods was "deeply unfair" on students.
"I stand with their call to #PostponeJEE_NEETinCOVID," Ms Thunberg, who has 4.1 million followers on Twitter, wrote on the microblogging website where the hashtag "MODIJI_POSTPONEJEENEET" was already trending.
While her tweet invited many responses from young men and women across the globe, the climate activist - who has just returned to school after a "gap year" of creating awareness about the climate emergency - also faced a lot of backlash for her stand.
It's deeply unfair that students of India are asked to sit national exams during the Covid-19 pandemic and while millions have also been impacted by the extreme floods. I stand with their call to #PostponeJEE_NEETinCOVID— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) August 25, 2020
The demand to cancel the IIT and medical entrance exams has been gaining ground across the country with students and parents highlighting how they have been badly hit by floods that have affected many states, including Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
Politicians across parties have also backed the demand highlighting that this was not only "unsafe" because of Covid, but also "unjust" in view of the floods.
"Students and parents are under enormous mental stress. Considering the current restrictions on public transportation, the allotted exam centres are not uniformly accessible to all aspirants," DMK chief MK Stalin said in a letter to Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal.
Former Union Education Minister and senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal had also made similar arguments saying such an approach towards education was "elitist".
The Education Ministry has maintained it will not postpone the JEE and NEET exams, both of which are scheduled to be held in the first half of September. Petitions on the subject were also dismissed by the Supreme Court which said "life cannot be stopped".
The JEE, NEET exams were first cancelled in May when the nationwide lockdown was in force and the total coronavirus cases were fewer.
India has been recording the world's highest daily spike in coronavirus figures since August 8. The country has already logged more than 31 lakh cases of the disease. The number of fatalities climbed to 58,390.