ICAI adamant on exams, students see red over Covid safety

MUMBAI: The chartered accountancy (CA) exams are scheduled to begin from November 21 at 1,100 centres across the country. However, thousands of students have raised questions on the safety protocols being followed by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI). They have flooded the social media with posts criticising the body’s adamant stance on conducting physical examination, and pointed to rising cases and lockdowns in cities like Delhi and Ahmedabad.

A student said that company secretary and cost accountancy institutes have postponed the exams in view of the imminent second wave of Covid-19, but the ICAI is adamant on holding it despite students’ petition to the Supreme Court.

Some students said when they visited the allocated exam centres, they found them not following the Ministry of Home Affairs guidelines restricting mass gatherings to maximum 200 people or 50 per cent of capacity, whichever is less. One exam centre in Gurgaon has made arrangements for 750 students at a time. An international school in Gorai has divided two floors in multiple blocks of 20, which will have 400 students in one building at a time.

“This is not a one-day exam. It will continue for 24 days and the ICAI has not communicated what happens if a student is found Covid-positive after two or three papers,” a student said, pointing out that the ICAI has changed many centres in the last 72 hours. “Is it really going to be possible to sanitise these?” he asked.

Another problem, students said, is lack of transport in many cities. “The institute should be reassuring students by taking all safety precautions. Instead, they are giving us the option to opt out and reappear in January. If ICAI had to be so adamant, they should have conducted exams in May itself,” said another Mumbai student.

President of ICAI, Atul Kumar Gupta said the exams are being conducted after the Supreme Court nod, and by adhering to Ministry of Home Affairs guidelines for Covid-19.

He said ICAI is not the only one conducting exams, and that even UPSC is doing the same. “In UPSC exams, 400 plus candidates were appearing at one exam centre, but we have maintained 147 candidates. We have given the Opt-Out option to students both before and during the exam. Yet, students are raising questions, and abusing ICAI functionaries on twitter,” he said.

On the question of exam centres being far off and being changed last minute, Gupta said, “We had 400 exam centres last year. Looking at the pandemic situation, we have increased them to 1,100 this time. If 25-30 centres are changed, they are changed because they are in containment zones. ICAI is working 24×7 to provide an alternative.”

He assured students that a distance of six feet would be maintained. “We will also be providing masks, sanitisers and temperature guns at centres,” he said.

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