T.N. class 10 exams from June 1 despite uncertainty when lockdown will end

Published : May 12, 2020 19:22 IST

In Dindigul, Tamil Nadu, people flock to Main Bazar Street after the government allowed the opening of stand-alone shops, on May 4. Photo: G. Karthikeyan

The Tamil Nadu School Education Department’s announcement today on Class 10 examinations to be held from June 1 represents yet another example of the incoherent functioning of the State government. It comes barely a day after Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi not to operate trains or planes to Chennai until May 31 because of the grim COVID-19 situation in the city.

Tamil Nadu is now into its fourth phase of lockdown, which ends on May 17, and the State government has not taken a decision on lifting it. As such, it is unclear how a public examination can be held when, by all indications, the government is looking at a phased lifting of the lockdown.

“When the Chief Minister has made this kind of an appeal to the Prime Minister, how can students reach on the morning of June 1,” asked Leader of the Opposition in the Tamil Nadu Assembly M.K. Stalin. “It will be correct to hold the examinations once coronavirus is controlled to a large extent and after normal life is restored in the State,” he said in a statement.

If the exams go ahead as scheduled, more than 10 lakh students will have to travel to their schools from their places of stay, and about a tenth of these will be in the Chennai Metropolitan Area.

Each Minister in the Tamil Nadu Cabinet has been making decisions on their own, not realising that this is jeopardising the fight against the virus. So far the Chief Minister has refused to intervene decisively to get the Ministries to present a united strategy. The Koyambedu cluster, the largest in Tamil Nadu, is said to be the direct result of the failure of the Minister in charge of infrastructure, Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam, to take decisive steps from the time the first case was discovered in the State's largest market. This was his only direct responsibility in the COVID-19 battle.

Health Minister C. Vijayabhaskar had insisted for the past month that there were beds in all government hospitals to treat COVID patients, when, in fact, the hospitals, even at that time were full. He also claimed that there was no dearth of equipment in any State-run medical college when government doctors were literally making desperate pleas for protective equipment, N-95 masks and other associated equipment.

In one case, a government doctor requested an opposition politician to help out. According to the extremely restrictive norms drawn up by the Tamil Nadu government all such equipment should only be handed over to the district authorities. The only unwritten rule in the Tamil Nadu Health Department that is not frowned upon and permitted is if the doctor/medical staff claims that the PPE/N95 masks have been bought with his or her personal money.

In this case, which this correspondent has verified with multiple sources, the politician, understanding the predicament of the medical staff, handed over the requested number of PPEs and masks at the residence of a medical staff. This was then taken into the government hospital and distributed to those who deal with COVID-19 patients.

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