Every year thousands of children enter IIT with a dream in the eyes, hope of a bright future and a happy life. Ninety percent of the children come from middle or lower middle class. Somewhere down the line a few dreams get shattered and the life that looked bright with a great future ends abruptly. Why do children commit suicide? Why? Is there something wrong with IIT’s or is the child or his parents are at fault?
Similarly every year, 4-5 students are ending their lives in the IIT system. Given that the total student population in the IIT system is between 40-50 thousand, we are losing one bright young life for every 10,000 students every year. This is a serious cause for concern.
When any tragedy occurs, the first and foremost question that everyone has is: “Why did this happen.” And when such tragedies happen as often as have happened in the IIT system, it is natural that people will want to know the reasons.
Its time to figure out, who is to be blamed for an IITian commiting suicide?
Is it the IITian grading system or the adminstrative system which cann’t provide better student councellers, who can discus something more then acedamics with the student.
Unfortunately, it is not easy to find the reasons. Each life is unique, and the reasons to end that life are also unique. In most cases, if not all, there are multiple reasons behind such a decision, though one of them may have acted as a trigger on that fateful day. But, if there are so many tragedies, then there must be something common between them. People want simple answers, which they can understand. And if the experts fail to give a simple answer, they will invent one. And hence the common perception that these deaths are caused by academic stress.
Every student who committed suicide at such a renowned institute dealt with severe pressures of various kinds, which are interlinked. Not getting a proper recruitment, examination stress, depression are some of the major factors. So, who should be blamed for these suicides, improper educational system, terrible stress on students in such reputed colleges or we as students who desire for higher studies in such institutes and with high expectation.
Every parent wants their child to be a topper in their class and expecting further, their child should get admission in IIT. When one enters the IIT, there is not only expectation from the parents that the student need to perform better but the student himself who has a higher self expectation being a part of the IIT.
IITs are a competitive place. The admission to IITs is the most competitive exam in the world, for which many students study for 3-4 years, and even drop one year after passing 12th class to prepare for IIT admission. The competition to perform better than average in such a group can be very intense, and someone who is used to be amongst the top few in his/her school for 12 years would feel stress on realizing that s/he is performing worse than average in this group.
I feel the problem begins from the school time. Children preparing for IIT entrance exam often lead an isolated obsessed life, so much so that at the age of 15-16 they eat, sleep and dream only about Physics, Chemistry and Maths. Often parents cut off the cable…no source of entertainment..(Television viewing is a very common source of entertainment in middle class families), no time to go out with friends, no time left for any hobby too. With boarding form of coaching institutes thriving, children are packed off to the hostels to prepare for the entrance exam. There they are deprived of the love and care of the parents. Children who are strong can also break up in such conditions.
After all this effort, if they clear the exams and land up at any of the IIT’s, the journey of fierce competition begins. All the children, who get admission in IIT are very good, maybe best in their school or towns but when they land at IIT, they realise hundreds are better than them. They have to compete with the best in the country and often some of them lose their way. They feel disheartened and dejected.
In IIT’s, a large percentage of children come from small towns. Even though they are good in their knowledge, they are not very well versed with English. All subjects at IIT are taught only in English. They often find it difficult to follow the lectures. Though IIT’s realising the problem have special course in English for these kids. Still many children lose their confidence and become recluse. Such kids also find it difficult to handle computers as it was not accessible to them in school or at home and take time to get at par with students from big cities. This also causes inferiority complex in them.
In IIT, students are so competitive and self- centred that they have little time for each other. Not every student is like that but yes a big percentage is self centred. Friendships are not very deep as the undercurrent of competition is always there. When a child is in trouble, he doesn’t know , whom to go for advice. Children facing depression hardly ever seek help directly. Counselling centres are there but troubled children never go there.
However, to study at IIT is not everyone’s cup of tea. The study material in any of the courses is not only tough but it’s hectic for the students as well. Besides these in every semester two exams are conducted consecutively in a day, which builds a huge pressure on the students’ mind. For a major lot, even the professors seems to uncooperative, as they always try to build pressure on them in some way or the other.
The stress to maintain the reputation of being an IITian, dejected and ashamed because not many students flunk that often and the mounting stress to better and to have a good GPI or CPI is killing (pun intended).
Some Suicides in IITS :
November 29, 2004: Swapnil Chandrakant Dhasraskar, second year mechanical at IIT Kanpur
November 10, 2005: Lokesh Chand, third year ECE, IIT Rourkee.
November 17, 2005: Vijay Nakula, fourth year CSE, IIT Powai.
October 9, 2006: Anjan Kumar, second year, Chemical, IIT Kanpur.
November 6, 2006: Abhilash JJ, a PhD scholar from Kerala, pursuing doctoral studies at IIT Kanpur.
April 19, 2008: Prashant Kumar, first year student of electrical engineering, IIT Kanpur.
January 3, 2009: G. Suman, second year M.Tech student, IIT Kanpur
September 1, 2011: A third-year Computer Science student of IIT-Patna, Yalavarthi Sweeya, commits suicide by jumping from the rooftop of her four-storeyed hostel in Patna.
August 4, 2011: Dinesh Ahlawat (19), a first year student of chemical engineering at IIT Delhi, was found hanging from the ceiling fan in his room in Zanskar Hostel by a few of his friends.
90% of the suicides in IITS are of SC/ST catags..
“There’s so much pressure put on the SC/ST students that they can’t cope. You’re throwing them in the same water and expecting them to compete. In a place where the average IQ is said to be in the range of 140, it places enormous pressure on those who can’t measure up.
“We make bad policy [like extended reservations] but don’t think about the net result of it. For instance, I would be interested to know how many SCs and STs, who have graduated from the IITs, have gone on to higher educational institutions like MIT.”
How can we stop the children from committing suicide?
I feel children should stay with parents while preparing for the entrance exams. Boarding institutes should be banned for coaching purposes.
Children should be encouraged to continue with some hobby or relax by spending sometime in the day, doing what they like. They should not be forced to study all the time. Getting into IIT at the cost suppressing all modes of relaxation is a faulty beginning. Getting into IIT, should not be the only goal in a teenager’s life. Effort should be let the child realise his potential and find his own level without excessive pressure.
Classes at IIT could be held in English but the children should be encouraged and allowed to ask questions in Hindi, so that they can get their doubts cleared without hesitation. I am not sure how practical it could be as every child doesn’t speak Hindi. Following regional languages could be impractical too.
Children who falter in a given semester should have counselling sessions with the professor that the cause of poor grades is understood and solution could be found. Counselling committee should not wait for the student to come for help. Children never go on their own to counselling committee.
From the first semester, children should be encouraged by the professors to keep an eye on the activities of the roommate. If a child is depressed or showing signs of depression, the roommate could seek help on his behalf. Students at IIT can be moulded as they are generally simple and sincere. Warden of the floor can have fortnightly sessions with the children to know how each one is faring.
Parents must try to keep in touch with their ward’s roommate or other friends he talks about and if they find any change in his behaviour during the holidays, they can ask the friend to keep an eye on him.
From the young age children must be taught care for others.
Professor must warn the children to take care of the semester from the beginning. Children often think, they can make it up later but it is not easy.
If child gets poor grades or has not studied well in a particular semester, he should not be shouted at by the parents. Parents should understand the cause and if they feel child is finding it difficult to cope with the pressure they should assure him of their love and encourage him to give the best without bothering about the grades. Grades are important but not the end of the world.
Children often experiment with alcohol, smoking or drugs in hostel life.Parents must tell the child of the consequences of over indulgence. Every child goes through his/ her experiments in life; we accept it or not but it is the truth. Instead they should keep reminding them of the pitfalls of such habits and addictions.
A child before entering IIT should be reminded about the hard-work he has done to get there and must not let it slip out of hand by wasting time. Four years of resilience and sincerity could make way for another sixty years of happy and secured life. Enjoy life but within limits. Let the dream not slip out of your hand.
Parents and professors should work together to make the child strong and capable enough to handle pressures without the fear of failure. Failure should be treated as the stepping stone to success not become the cause of death. We have to give that confidence to the child that no matter what, whether you are successful or not, whether you excel in life or not..you are my child, I will love you and be there for you always. They are bright kids, they should not compete with others but focus only on competing with the self and should be encouraged to give their best but nothing beyond that.
Every life is important…it should not be lost because of the guilt of failure….failure of not living up-to the expectations of the parents, society or self imposed high expectations.
IIT is supposed to prepare the child to do anything in life…because they select children, who have that capacity to do anything in life…hence grades should not be the be all and end all of IIT.
P.S : I myself wanted to suicide many times,but then again i tell myself that “YOU LIVE ONLY ONCE” ,why give up for silly reasons? There’s real world out there to confront.
And God gives problems to ones that has ability to face,It just means You have what it takes.So,Never ever give up!
I feel heartbroken every time I see the face of a parent, whose child has committed suicide at IIT.I am writing as a parent.of course it doesn’t mean that I am not affected by the suicide of young kids studying elsewhere <Generalised Genuine Message>