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-Mayank Gurnani

Growing up many of us have had to deal with stress, and live up to the expectations that were set by our families, especially in the academic arena. In a country like ours where report cards have always held the apex position in deciding a student’s calibre and success, it isn’t uncommon for students to feel burdened due to the pressure of securing higher grades.

In his recent interactional address to students across the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed the matter with much sensitivity. His ‘Pariksha Pe Charcha’ (Discussion on Examinations) came at the appropriate time since the standard X and XII board examinations are lingering over students’ heads. Modi addressed the gathering regarding the importance of self-confidence and concentration building in battling exam stress, whilst also talking about his latest literary endeavour “Exam Warriors”. PM Modi addressed several key issues including the role of teachers in helping students deal with exam stress and reducing anxiety. By citing several examples from both his personal life and from those whose lives have inspired him, PM Modi touched threw light upon topics such as peer and parental pressure, the importance of being focused, prioritising and delegating work, and the interconnectedness of IQ and EQ amongst several others.

The interaction was the first of its kind and was received with a positive response by parents, teachers and students alike. “Most of us are aware of the things that were spoken about during his interaction, but the very fact that the Prime Minister of our country understood our position to speak to the nation regarding it, gives us not only hope but also a stronger desire to be more focused and concentrated for what lies ahead of us” said Nidhi, a Grade XII Science student.

“As parents of students who are about to appear for extremely important and competitive examinations, it comes as a relief to see someone as powerful as Modi, speak up about examination stress. We all understand that marks don’t necessarily decide our future, but as long as the system doesn’t change, there is unfortunately not much we can do to help our children,” exclaimed Sadhwani, Nidhi’s father, “now that we have our PM talking about it, maybe we can expect some change that will help our children enjoy and not fear exams.” he added.

Although his talk was extremely insightful and encouraging, PM Modi missed mentioning another pressing issue about exams; cheating. With pressure from family and teachers alike many students in order to achieve better results resort to incorrect activities during their examinations, such as cheating. Every year several instances of cheating are reported from all corners of the country especially by students appearing for Grade X, XI boards. In the recent past, shocking instances of mass cheating in UP State Board Examinations forced the new Government in power to take up stronger and stringent measures to ensure that such malpractices are discontinued. The UP cabinet lead by Yogi Adityanath briefed the media earlier this month about the reforms that they would undertake to keep cheating during board examinations under a check, these include the assigning of special task forces, a drastic reduction in the number of examination centres and mandatory installation of CCTV cameras at the centres. Following the reforms, state government sources revealed that from over 66 lakh students who were slated to appear in board examinations in the state of Uttar Pradesh this year, a total of 10.56 lakh students have dropped out.

Cheating is an extremely pressing issue for our education system and the country as it not just results in under qualified individuals moving to further stages in their academic life, but also hinders the process of merit-based admissions for students who actually put in handwork and dedication. The examples of Ruby Ray; the Bihar State Board humanities topper, who upon questioning couldn’t list down the names of the very same subjects that she scored exceptional marks in, tell us exactly how serious this issue has become.

India is on its way to becoming the world’s largest youth population by 2025, and at a time like this it’s imperative that the students, who are eventually going to form our workspace are both relieved of stress, pressure and anxiety, and provided with an equal and level playing field where they can find their true potential and contribute to the growth of our nation to the best of their abilities.

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