The Central government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic’s second wave has far more critics than admirers. From the common man and opposition parties to the Western press and sections of the domestic media, the consensus among all is that the Narendra Modi government has been found wanting and it has mishandled the health emergency. But the decision to scrap the Class 12 board examinations in light of the pandemic will be hailed by all. This would not have been easy as it went against the majority view to go ahead with examination, albeit in a truncated manner. If reports are to be believed, more than 30 states and Union Territories had favoured a shortened examination. But the Modi government has rightly ignored that view and scrapped the exam.
What swung the decision in favour of the cancellation has not been officially shared but there could be many reasons. One, although the second wave is ebbing in most states, there are some places where the disease is still cresting. Students belonging to regions where the situation is still dire would have been at a disadvantage. Two, a majority of the students are not eligible for the Covid vaccine as they are yet to turn 18, the age required for vaccination. Such students would naturally feel totally unprotected from the virus and their stress levels would have been much higher than that of others. Three, in a lockdown situation, many students without access to proper transportation facilities would have found it difficult to reach examination centres. Given all these challenges, the cancellation of the exam was in the best interest of all.
The next task before the government is to devise an impartial methodology to evaluate and assess the students and allot marks. Many of the brighter students will feel aggrieved by the cancellation as they would have most probably fared better if the examinations were held. But even such students will readily acknowledge that the potential risks of writing the exam would not have been worth it. The junking of the exam into the dustbin appears to be this government’s best decision on the pandemic so far.