Swedish teen climate change campaigner Greta Thunberg on Tuesday threw her weight behind postponing the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) and the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) exams in India in view of the coronavirus, saying it is 'deeply unfair' that students are asked to appear in the tests during the pandemic.
Several students and political leaders across the country, including Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam president M K Stalin, have urged the central government to postpone the examination until the spread of the COVID-19 was brought under control.
Voicing her support to the calls for the deferment of the key national examinations, Thunberg took to Twitter, saying it is deeply unfair for the students.
'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,' she said in a tweet.
Thunberg, 17, has become a leading voice for action on climate change, inspiring millions of students to join protests around the world.
She was named Time magazine's Person of the Year for 2019.
Two years ago, she started missing lessons most Fridays to protest outside the Swedish Parliament building, in what turned out to be the beginning of a huge environmental movement.
The chorus for postponing the various examinations, including NEET and JEE, grew louder on Sunday with over 4,000 students observing a day-long hunger strike to press for the demand in view of the rising COVID-19 cases.
The protest came on a day Gandhi said the government must listen to the 'Mann ki Baat' of students and arrive at 'an acceptable solution' and his party demanded that the NEET and the JEE be deferred.
According to the leftist All India Students Association (AISA), over 4,200 students observed the day-long hunger strike at their respective home demanding that CBSE compartment exams of Classes 10 and 12 be cancelled and entrance exams such as the University Grants Commission-National Eligibility Test (UGC-NET), Common Law Admission Test (CLAT), NEET and JEE be postponed.
Aspirants appear in the JEE for admission into the premier engineering colleges and the NEET for undergraduate medical courses.
The JEE-Main is scheduled to be held between September 1 and 6, while the JEE-Advanced on September 27.
The NEET will be held on September 13.
With 60,975 people testing positive for the coronavirus infection in a day, India's COVID-19 tally on Tuesday rose to 31,67,323, while recoveries surged to 24,04,585, pushing the recovery rate to 75.92 per cent, according to the Union Health Ministry data.
The death toll climbed to 58,390 with 848 fatalities being reported in a span of 24-hours, it said.