Youths from Bihar have sought intervention of Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi to rescind the decision to conduct online from next year the joint entrance examination (JEE)-Advanced for admission to prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs).
The joint admission board (JAB), responsible for laying down the policy for the examination, had on August 20 taken the decision to conduct the JEE-Advanced exam completely online from next year.
The students, however, feel that many meritorious students from rural India, especially Bihar and other less progressive states, would be at a grossly disadvantageous position if the exam was conducted online because they were not computer savvy.
Demanding level playing field for all students, they argued that the government should first ensure computers in rural schools before making the test online.
Having already written to the Union human resources development (HRD) minister, they have now petitioned the PM, besides Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on September 8, urging the latter to take up the issue with the Centre.
“Already grappling to overcome the English language barrier, many like us, who had earlier not touched even the mouse of a computer, will now have to write the exam on computer. It is like eliminating them in the very beginning. They deserve the right to equality,” said Pankaj Kumar Kapadia, son of a cloth merchant from Nasriganj block in Bihar’s Rohtas district, leading the protest.
Kapadia, a student of Super-30, went on to study chemical engineering at the IIT Delhi in 2006.
He cited another example of the son of a Muzaffarpur-based marginalised farmer and rickshaw puller, Rahul Kumar, who knew neither English nor computers, but made it to the IIT Bombay in his first attempt at the JEE last year.
The government had earlier made it optional to take the JEE-Mains test online. Interestingly, of the 11.86 lakh candidates registered for JEE Mains-2017, only 1.65 lakh took the exam online, while 9.56 lakh opted for the conventional pen and paper based exam.
Students vying for admission to NITs and other centrally-funded technical institutions need to clear the JEE-Mains. Only the top few from JEE-Mains qualify for JEE-Advanced for admission to IITs, which has been made online from 2018. More than 1.5 lakh students took the JEE Advanced in 2017.