The wide social empathy embodied in the decision of Chief Minister of Odisha Shri Naveen Patnaik, taken on 28th August 2020, to provide transport and accommodation facilities free of cost to those students of State who cannot afford to arrange for their stay and commutation to reach the centers located in far off places for writing JEE and NEET examinations beginning from 1st September has commanded national attention and merited huge positive pan Indian response. It has set an example for other State governments to follow and implement similar measures.
It is a formidable prospect for thousands of students to write examinations without putting at stake their very health and life due to COVID pandemic and accelerating spread of novel coronavirus. Their normal woes and anxieties arising out of rigorous preparations for these tough examinations got compounded because of persistence of the Union Government to go ahead with these entrance tests in spite of their appeals not to conduct examinations in COVID times. Even several Chief Ministers including Shri Naveen Patnaik appealed to the Prime Minister of India and Union Education Minister to defer the examinations taking into account danger posed by COVID and the serious flood situation caused by incessant rain. But all such appeals fell on deaf ears. The students mostly from far off and rural areas faced an insurmountable problem of getting access to transportation and lodging facilities because the lockdown guidelines, to interrupt spread of virus, prevented plying of vehicles and opening up of hotels. The magnitude of such problems got intensified due to uninterrupted rains and resultant flood which disrupted communication and paralysed whatever normal life people were allowed to lead with some degree of partial relaxation of lock down norms.
Shri Patnaik understood Man Ki Baat of Students and is not dismissive of their problems as Act of God
Chief Minister Shri Patnaik did understand the man Ki baat of students and did not look at problems faced by them as an act of God. He got actuated to address the problems of students even before they and their parents or even any political party asked the Government for taking measures to stand by thousands of examinees taking the entrance tests in these highly trying and desperate times. His announcement of 28th August that the Government of Odisha would provide transportation and accommodation facilities to students writing JEE and NEET examinations was truly exemplary and brought out his empathy for our youth who are facing unprecedented trials and tribulations caused by COVID pandemic to fashion their future destiny. The logistics were were put in place by the Government for enabling students to register themselves with the principals of Industrial Training Institutes to avail of the transport facilities and accommodation was organised at several hostels for arranging the stay of students and their parents. The transport and police authorities were entrusted with responsibilities to ensure smooth and hassle free travel of students to examination Centre’s.
Appeal of Odisha CM to MLAs and Odisha Mo Paribar to Stand by Students
On 29th August Chief Minister in an appeal to Members of Legislative Assembles requested them to stand by the students and extend all support to them. The non political body Odisha Mo Paribar, Odisha my Family, established at his initiative upholds the idea of fraternity and kinship of all Odias cutting across political affiliations and other barriers was also mobilised for reaching out to the students. Such persuasive and caring approach embodied in the decision of Shri Patnaik had a pan Indian impact.
Pan Indian Impact of Odisha CM’s Decision - Delhi IIT Director’s Appeal to Provide Transport
The article stated that “IIT Delhi Director V. Ramgopal Rao, in an appeal on Facebook Saturday, asked IIT alumni, students and “good Samaritans” to pitch in and help studentsk access exam centres in view of the unavailability of adequate public transport due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Public transport like buses are still not available in some parts of the country.” It further added, “In his post, Rao appealed to the state governments and local administration to arrange buses and make special provisions for students taking examinations.” The Delhi IIT Director, as per the article, announced that apart from issuing the initial call for help through social media, would launch a portal soon to coordinate the efforts.
It is good of the Delhi IIT which is the organising institute for the Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) Advanced this year to have sensitively understood the crises faced by students and appealed to its alumni, good samaritans and even state governments and local administration to arrange buses and make special provisions for students taking examinations.
Chchatishgarh and Madhya Pradesh Govts decided in favour of students for free transportation
It is heartening that after Odisha Chief Minister took the trend setting decision for students to have access to free transport and accommodation Chhattisgarh Government has taken a similar measure on 30th August when Chief Minister Shri Bhupesh Baghel asked all district collectors of the State to ensure that all those candidates writing JEE and NEET would reach examination enters by availing of vehicles organised by the Government for them. The headline of the news item “NEET-JEE Exams: After Odisha, Chhattisgarh To Provide Free Transportation To Aspirants” clearly indicate the lead provided by Odisha and its Chief Minister Shri Naveen Patnaik and the pan Indian impact of his sensitive and caring decision in favour of the students of Odisha. (https://www.republicworld.com/india-news/education/after-odisha-chhattisgarh-to-provide-free-transportation-to-aspirants.html
Yet another piece of writing under the caption “As other state CMs cry foul over JEE/NEET exams, Odisha CM does what he does best. He solves the problem” by Sanbeer Singh Ranhotra in TFIPOST is revealing and self explanatory. The article can be accessed by opening the following link.
The pan Indian impact of Odisha Chief Minister’s decision in favour of students and youth bring out the quality of his leadership in dealing with issues at the time of disasters, be they man made or natural, and successfully address the challenges they face to their lives and the pursuit of education and other entitlements. Success in dealing with such challenges defines our nationhood and gives meaning and significance to nationalism which should be creative, constructive and life affirming. The pan Indian of impact of decision of Odisha CM signifies such nationalism.
.The author served as Officer on Special Duty and Press Secretary to President of India late Shri K R Narayanan and had a tenure in Prime Minister’s Office and Joint Secretary in Rajya Sabha Secretariat. Views expressed in the article are in his personal capacity.