Finally, the glad tidings are now once again greeting our nation continuously. Much to the credit of Corona warriors on multiple fronts, the second wave of the pandemic is ebbing with each passing day. As such, it is time for you to cheer up and get down to the preparations for good times. It is time to resume chasing your career dreams—leaving behind any sort of dismay, doubts and despair whatsoever. It is true that over past some time most of you have been facing a trilemma of Corona-induced health risk, delayed or cancelled competitive exams, and badly crippled education system aggravated by a freeze on educational institutes. But, rest assured, this scenario is all set to change for better—sooner than later. With the good news on Corona front, these aftermaths of the pandemic too will go away and these times too will pass, eventually. However, the pre-condition to this is that, come what may, you remain optimistic and mentally as well as physically healthy. This is the time you keep believing in yourself and make use of inner strengths and the time-tested trait of human resilience that we all are naturally bestowed with. You have to think like a victor rather than playing a victim.
Schools and higher education institutes cannot remain shut for ever. The competitive examinations cannot be suspended for long. Indian polity and educator fraternity are on the job to find a way out that balances lives, livelihoods and welfare of students and youth. As governments ponder over how to open educational institutions, the policy-makers are zeroing in on the imperative to evolve a countrywide model education framework involving both on-campus and online modes—learning from the experience of developed nations who have completely switched to remote learning. In the present Indian context, speedy vaccination of the young and eliminating digital divide have emerged as a panacea to the conundrum faced by school and college students and career-seeking youth. It is imperative in present times that we selectively vaccinate youth, teachers and around six million education sector employees first and foremost, open schools, and bridge the digital divide—especially in rural areas. As such, we reiterate and re-emphasise that all of you should get inoculated on top-most priority. This act of yours would also be very effective to hold out against the possible third wave of the pandemic.
In India, a Board examination, especially the Class 12 exam, is a milestone. Over 10 million students in various State and Central boards appear for the higher secondary examination, which helps them to choose their future career. Given the pandemic
the need to safeguard our students, the Centre has correctly decided to cancel the examinations. However, the cancellation of the examinations is just a temporary rather than a permanent solution. The present crisis might well have a silver lining, if it can nudge the education system away from its hyper-dependence on marks and board examinations. Over the years, the schools, teachers as well as students had been resorting to a “teach-to-game-exams mode” that results in high marks but rote learning—a scenario which must change for good of our future generations. For colleges and universities, this is an opportunity to look beyond marks while ensuring a level-playing field for students from diverse social, economic and regional backgrounds in admissions.
Another welcome trend noticed in these difficult times is that a large number of wired youth like you pitched in to help desperate countrymen by using social media as a saviour, particularly when their old-timer parents and other adults, who were left to fend for themselves, struggled to use this medium. Be it registering for vaccination, crowd-sourcing aid, delivering key supplies like Oxygen cylinders, online hospital admissions or directing plasma donors to those in need, you and your peers have risen to the occasion and commendably turned social media into a giant humanitarian platform. And in this process, we all have got lessons on our youth’s resilience, confidence and initiative as online-volunteers, as well as the constructive power of the Internet. Our youth like you, who under normal circumstances would be focused on admissions to top universities or appearing for competitive exams, activated resources they never knew they possessed—much to the global admiration.
Those of you involved in social media-oriented benevolent acts, believed in themselves and the power of technology. Remember, believing is the basic stepping stone to success. It is rightly said that faith moves mountains. To conclude, let’s take note of what Martin Luther King, Jr. had said : “Dark times never last for a long because, after every darkness, some light shines through…We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope.” All the very best to you!
(Surendra Kumar Sachdeva)