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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

JEE aspirant ends life in Farrukhabad - TNN


TNN | May 23, 2016, 06.20 AM IST

Kanpur: A 17-year-old IIT aspirant, allegedly committed suicide by shooting himself with his father's licensed revolver late on Saturday night in his house in Maseni locality under Kotwali police station in Farrukhabad district.

Son of Vinay Somvanshi, Vaibhav Pratap Singh had secured 93% and 98% marks in UP Board's high school and intermediate exams respectively. He was preparing for selection in IIT and was being coached by a reputed institute of Bengaluru. 

"Vaibhav was depressed as he could not be selected for JEE-Advanced due to his poor performance in JEE-Mains. On late Saturday night while other members of the house were asleep on the terrace, Vaibhav shot himself," SP Rajesh Krishna told TOI. The boy was found lying in a pool of blood. He was rushed to a hospital where the doctors declared him dead, he said.

He had recently taken admission to a coaching institute in Bengaluru to prepare for IIT-JEE, the SP said. The reason behind this extreme step is yet to be ascertained as he has left no suicide note, said SHO Kotwali. His father is a hawaldar in Army and is presently posted in Ambala, he said. The body has been sent for postmortem and further investigations are underway, he informed.

High school topper feared of scoring low in class XII, commits suicide - TNN


Arvind Chauhan | TNN | May 22, 2016, 07.04 PM IST

AGRA: A student who secured 85 % in class XII CBSE board, allegedly committed suicide in Agra. 

Identified as Gagan Aggarwal, son of a grain exporter Sanjay Aggarwal, resident of Jagan Vihar Colony of Acchnera area, the boy had scored more than 90 % in class X board exam, but last year he scored merely 62% in XII board in science after which his parents asked him to reappear.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity a close relative of the family claimed, "The family has tradition of producing pilots, entrepreneurs but Gagan who was asked to opt for PCM (Physic, chemistry and Maths) after high school was not able to perform in academics as per his parents' expectation. He was been treated as if he was some horse who needs to win the race of securing high percentage in board exam."

"The boy was in tremendous pressure as he feared of not securing high percentage needed to get admission in top engineering institutes to pursue his career in engineering," he added.

According to Murarilal Prasad Aggarwal, uncle of the victim, "We are not sure as what really triggered such a grave step from the kid. He was good in studies, it was his second appearance for class XII. I think he did not see the result and was under pressure. He scored pretty good 85 % in PCM," he added.



As per the sources, it was his younger brother Naman who first saw him hanging from the ceiling fan of their home. Sources claim, the boy must have seen the marks and have thought that he won't get admission with 85 % in premier engineering institute like IIT, which built pressure on him and he decided to end his life, as it was his second attempt. 


Meanwhile, when TOI contacted police to talk about the alleged suicide of student, they claimed of having no information regarding such an incident.

On Saturday evening, Gagan was cremated. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

India to release 50 years of solved question papers of JEE for entrance to IIT - American Bazaar

May 18, 2016

Govt. partnering with IITs to conform papers to 12th class students.
By Sreekanth A. NairMay 18, 2016

Kota in Rajasthan is known as the coaching capital of India with thousands of students reaching the city each year for help to crack entrance examinations for premier higher educational institutions.

But the city has been in the news for long for rising number of student suicides. Two students had committed suicide in May following their poor performance in the National Eligibility and Entrance Examination (NEET) exam.

Finally, the central government has come up with a solution that may help students in their studies and put an end to student suicides.

According to a report in Livemint, Union Human Resources Development (HRD) minister Smriti Irani said that the government and Indian Institute of Technologies (IITs) are joining hands to release the solved question papers of Joint Entrance Examinations (JEE) held in the last 50 years.

The students can download the question papers from a website or use a mobile app. The ministry has also decided to prepare questions of JEE considering the Class XII syllabus. One of the toughest examinations in the country, JEE, is the gateway to premier engineering education institutions like IITs.

“For the first time, the government, in conjunction with the IIT Council, will ensure that the question papers (of JEE) conform to Standard XII syllabus,” Irani was quoted as saying by Livemint. “If degree-level questions are asked, we cannot expect a school student to answer,” she added.

IITs will also help students by providing audio and video lectures. To overcome the language barrier, question papers will be released in 13 Indian languages.

“The aim of coaching centers and the government is one—to benefit students. Opening up the JEE papers is a good move and shall benefit students. But the question is why students are going for coaching. The answer is, the formal education system has gaps which have not been plugged for decades,” Satya Narayanan R., executive chairman of CL Educate told Livemint.

Six students have committed suicide in Kota this year alone. In April, a 17-year-old student committed suicide in Kota  after realizing that her score in the JEE was more than enough for her to qualify to study as an engineer, which depressed her, as she wanted to study something else.

Coming soon: Access 50 years of solved JEE question papers on app, portal

Coming soon: Access 50 years of solved JEE question papers on app, portal

  • Prashant K. Nanda, Livemint, New DelhiUpdated: May 19, 2016 12:49 IST
The ministry’s move follows a spate of suicides in Kota, a Rajasthan town often called the coaching capital of India. At least half-a-dozen students have committed suicide in Kota this year, the latest one being on 28 April.

The central government and the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) have jointly decided to release solved question papers of all joint entrance examinations (JEE) held in the last 50 years, Union human resources development (HRD) minister Smriti Irani said. The move is aimed at helping students and reducing the influence of the coaching industry.

The papers will be released through an app and a portal.
The IIT-JEE has long been India’s most iconic and also its most difficult entrance examination.

The IITs and the HRD ministry have also decided to prepare questions for JEE exams keeping in mind the Class XII syllabus to reduce the difficulty level of the JEE, the minister said.
The ministry has also asked IITs to help aspirants with video and audio lectures.

Irani said many people have complained about the menace of the coaching industry. “The question is, what can we do”? The answer, she added, was to provide 50 years of question papers. This will happen in the next two months, Irani said.

The ministry’s move follows a spate of suicides in Kota, a Rajasthan town often called the coaching capital of India. At least half-a-dozen students have committed suicide in Kota this year, the latest one being on 28 April.

India’s coaching industry was worth Rs.40,000 crore in 2011 as per a report by rating agency Crisil. Though its current size is not available, industry insiders peg it in excess of Rs.50,000 crore.

The IITs are India’s most elite engineering schools.
The entrance examination is tough, and requires more than just proficiency with the Class XII syllabus.

That prompts students to take up coaching classes, Irani explained. To address that, “for the first time, the government, in conjunction with the IIT Council, will ensure that the question papers (of JEE) conform to Standard XII syllabus”.

“If degree-level questions are asked, we cannot expect a school student to answer,” the minister added. She said the present system was encouraging students of various school boards to go to places such as Kota “to get that knowledge”.

Irani said that recognizing the language challenge of students in different parts of the country, her ministry has asked the IITs to make all study material available in 13 languages.

In 2012, the IITs for the first time uploaded JEE answer sheets for a “brief period of time” before the final rankings were prepared. In August 2011, the Supreme Court had ruled that examination answer sheets must be made public under the Right to Information Act.

“I don’t think coaching industry is a menace,” said Satya Narayanan R., executive chairman of CL Educate (formerly Career Launcher) which runs a chain of coaching institutes.

“The aim of coaching centres and government is one—to benefit students. Opening up the JEE papers is a good move and shall benefit students. But the question is why students are going for coaching. The answer is, the formal education system has gaps which have not been plugged for decades,” he added.

App to make IIT preparation a tad easier - New Indian Express

By Express news service
Published: 19th May 2016 03:38 AM



NEW DELHI: Amid a growing concern over increased incidents of student suicides in the coaching centre hub Kota, the HRD Ministry on Wednesday said it was creating a mobile app and a portal with free lectures from IIT faculty. The portal will also contain previous years’ question papers.

The pressure to crack the JEE exams and the exhaustive preparation often get the better of students. According to ministry officials, the availability of course materials and the question papers with lectures would help aspirants learn at their own pace and start preparing in advance in keeping with individual levels of competence.

The increased rate of suicides in Kota are being attributed to stress levels and pressure. The ministry is of the view that its steps would help tackle the “menace” of coaching centres to a large extent.


IITs to release 50 years’ solved JEE question papers to combat Kota coaching - Live Mint

Last Modified: Thu, May 19 2016. 08 06 AM IST


IITs, HRD ministry have also decided to prepare questions for JEE exams keeping in mind the Class 12 syllabus to reduce the difficulty level

Prashant K Nanda

A file photo of IIT Kharagpur. Photo: Indranil Bhoumik/Mint

The central government and the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) have jointly decided to release solved question papers of all joint entrance examinations (JEE) held in the last 50 years, Union human resources development (HRD) minister Smriti Irani said. The move is aimed at helping students and reducing the influence of the coaching industry.

The papers will be released through an app and a portal.
The IIT-JEE has long been India’s most iconic and also its most difficult entrance examination.

The IITs and the HRD ministry have also decided to prepare questions for JEE exams keeping in mind the Class XII syllabus to reduce the difficulty level of the JEE, the minister said.
The ministry has also asked IITs to help aspirants with video and audio lectures.

Irani said many people have complained about the menace of the coaching industry. “The question is, what can we do”? The answer, she added, was to provide 50 years of question papers. This will happen in the next two months, Irani said.

The ministry’s move follows a spate of suicides in Kota, a Rajasthan town often called the coaching capital of India. At least half-a-dozen students have committed suicide in Kota this year, the latest one being on 28 April.

India’s coaching industry was worth Rs.40,000 crore in 2011 as per a report by rating agency Crisil. Though its current size is not available, industry insiders peg it in excess of Rs.50,000 crore.

The IITs are India’s most elite engineering schools.
The entrance examination is tough, and requires more than just proficiency with the Class XII syllabus.

That prompts students to take up coaching classes, Irani explained. To address that, “for the first time, the government, in conjunction with the IIT Council, will ensure that the question papers (of JEE) conform to Standard XII syllabus”.

“If degree-level questions are asked, we cannot expect a school student to answer,” the minister added. She said the present system was encouraging students of various school boards to go to places such as Kota “to get that knowledge”.

Irani said that recognizing the language challenge of students in different parts of the country, her ministry has asked the IITs to make all study material available in 13 languages.

In 2012, the IITs for the first time uploaded JEE answer sheets for a “brief period of time” before the final rankings were prepared. In August 2011, the Supreme Court had ruled that examination answer sheets must be made public under the Right to Information Act.

“I don’t think coaching industry is a menace,” said Satya Narayanan R., executive chairman of CL Educate (formerly Career Launcher) which runs a chain of coaching institutes.

“The aim of coaching centres and government is one—to benefit students. Opening up the JEE papers is a good move and shall benefit students. But the question is why students are going for coaching. The answer is, the formal education system has gaps which have not been plugged for decades,” he added.


Thursday, May 19, 2016

QUANTUM LEAP: The shameful link between the Kota suicides and IIT 'coaching' - Daily Mail UK

PUBLISHED: 09:15 EST, 18 May 2016 | UPDATED: 09:15 EST, 18 May 2016

The spate of suicides reported from Kota, the coaching capital of India, should come as a shock to us all. 
Young students are killing themselves, not because they are not able to get admission into any Indian Institution of Technology (IIT), but because of the sheer pressure of their 'coaching' regime and the obsession of parents over the future careers of their children.
The most poignant case is that of a girl who killed herself despite ‘cracking’ the joint entrance examination for IIT with a good mark.

Coaching centres often make false and unethical claims about the rank of their students. (File picture).

She took the extreme step of ending her life because she did not want to become an engineer.

The education system, parents, media, governments, and politicians must take notice as these suicides represent a collective failure and stand as a shameful indictment on us all.
Over the years, we have created an atmosphere in which IITs have been placed on a pedestal - an ultimate goal for young students.

An inability to reach this goal is considered the end of high-earning career aspirations for many students.

For many middle-class and poor parents an admission into IIT appears to be the best career option - a passport to a well-paid job, and in turn a ticket to the good life.

The biggest beneficiaries of this craze are coaching centres in Kota, Guntur, Hyderabad, Faridabad, Patna and elsewhere.
The frenzy begins with IITs, which themselves are under the misguided impression that they are among the best engineering schools in the world.

The IITs pride themselves on the number of students competing for each seat, hiding real academic indicators such as innovation, research output, and teacher-student ratio.

India's institutes of Technology do not come close to their US equivalents - MIT and Harvard.

In fact, the combined research output of our IITs is far below that of the two technology universities in Singapore - National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University.
Also, the faculty shortage in IITs is pathetic, as pointed out by the parliamentary committee on higher education last month. 
While all such serious issues are shoved under the carpet, all we hear are the unverified claims about future salary packages.
All this helps the IITs further consolidate their brands and lure gullible, fee-paying middle-class parents.

Lofty claims about placements by IITs are a big boost to the business of the coaching centres intended to help prospective students, and are often the first contact point for parents.
Coaching centres then start hyping up their own brands by making false and unethical claims about the rank of their students.

Some of them even hold an entrance test: An entrance test to win coaching for an entrance test!

The coaching business operates in connivance with the various state education departments, which then turn a blind-eye to the high-pressure ‘dummy schools’ where children are enrolled for 10th and 12th grade CBSE or state board examinations, but are actually studying in coaching institutes.
These kids are being deprived of basic schooling and are being robbed of their childhood.

Their growing years are spent in 10-12 hours of rote learning and solving multiple choice questions, blunting their mental growth and capacity to think and ask questions.
It is high-time we woke up and ended this menace.
We will have to work at different levels. IITs will have to be de-glamourised. Parents need proper information - and the government needs to act tough with the coaching industry 


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Students = customers: Reasons for stress on students aplenty - Hindustan Times


  • Aneesha Bedi, Hindustan Times, ChandigarhUpdated: May 16, 2016 13:04 IST
Students are being taught in batches with strength of 150 to 200 at various coaching institutes in Chandigarh. The child rights panel has taken a strict note of this practice of treating students as customers. (Ravi Kumar/HT Photo)

After the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) inspected four coaching centres in the city and expressed strong displeasure at the way they were functioning, HT took stock of the situation by visiting a number of institutes and talking to various stakeholders.
The NCPCR team had visited the city last Friday in the wake of 42 cases of students’ suicide reported in Kota, Rajasthan, in the past three years. Like Kota, Chandigarh, too, is an important hub of private coaching for competitive exams.


The Delhi team had raised a multitude of issues leading to stress among students: special batches for toppers, lack of counsellors, overcrowded classes, admission tests, and high fee among others. HT throws light on all these issues.

Separate batches for toppers
It has been observed that most coaching centres in the city have special batches for toppers: A+, A star, etc. When HT visited a few coaching centres in Sector 34 and Sector 36, it was found that many of these institutes had stopped this practice temporarily post the inspections, but some had a different explanation to offer.

Vijay Makin, administrative head, Allen Institute, Sector 34, said: “There are kids who wish to appear for international Olympiads and their aim is to get admitted to institutes abroad. They require a different kind of preparation, and hence are put in a separate batch.”

Another faculty member of the institute said requests from bureaucrats to pay special attention to their kids forced the centres to put their wards in separate batches.
Madhu, a parent whose child is an All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) aspirant, called the separate batches “a clear case of discrimination”.
However, Arvind Goyal, a local trainer for medical entrance exams and spokesperson of the Chandigarh Educationists’ Association, said: “At times, parents themselves ask for such batches.”

Overcrowded classes
A visit to coaching institutes in Sectors 22, 24, 34 and 36 revealed how 150 to 200 students are being made to sit in one room, depriving them of individual attention. Calling this practice a form of “treating students as their customers”, the child rights panel has taken a strict note of it.
Institutes, however, feel having smaller batches is not financially viable. “A lot of expenditure is involved –newspaper ads, administrative costs, 15% service tax on commercial education, rental, staff salaries. Hence small batches aren’t financially viable,” said Arvind Goyal.

Lack of qualified counsellors
The lack of counsellors in these coaching centres is also a worrying trend. Anil Verma, who coaches aspirants for the Joint Entrance Examinations for the Indian Institutes of Technology in Sector 34, said: “Coaching is important to beat stress. I, myself, counsel each student in my institute. What we can do having the understanding of kids’ needs cannot be done by another counsellor.”
Arvind Goyal said his wife (who is the dean, academics, at their institute in Sector 37) works overtime only to ensure she can guide overburdened students.

Admission tests
Adding to the stress at the very beginning, most institutes hold written tests to enrol students. Criticising the practice, Arvind Goyal said: “Admissions should be held on the first-cum-first-serve basis, as what’s the point to test the children before preparing them for competitive exams.”
Savin Sandhu, another IIT-JEE trainer and physics expert, said: “While we hold such tests at the beginning of the session to provide scholarships to the top 10 students, bigger institutes do it all year round.”
A faculty member of Akash Institute, requesting anonymity, said: “How else do we select students coming for admissions since the number is so huge? It is the only practical way.”

Morning batches, ‘dummy’ schools
Former deputy commissioner Mohammad Shayin had imposed Section 144 (prohibition on assembly of more than five people) of the criminal procedure code (CrPC) around coaching institutes during school hours, i.e. till 2pm, in February last year.
The order was later relaxed on the condition that “from the next session, no coaching centre will be allowed to admit students (in morning batches) who are enrolled in schools. They will have to maintain a proper record, which will be checked by the administration. Dummy admissions will invite action. Schools will be asked to submit records of attendance of students in Classes 11 and 12”.

A year on, things have not changed much, with no regulatory mechanism to check the practice. Institutes holding morning batches claim these are “crash courses” for “droppers” and that they have been obeying the orders.

Dummy schools operating in the city, which enrol students and mark attendance without students physically being present in these schools, have triggered the trend. Director, school education, Rubinderjit Singh Brar said, “We are exploring all the options to see how this practice can be stopped.”

Monday, May 16, 2016

Inside Kota’s coaching factories: Pressure, anxiety prey on students - Hindustan Times


  • Furquan Ameen Siddiqui, Hindustan TimesUpdated: May 15, 2016 07:55 IST
Students take notes in at Allen Career Institute, the leading coaching institute in Kota, Rajasthan. It claims to have enrolled over 77,000 students last year. (Raj K Raj / Hindustan Times)

Every morning, hundreds of children in neat uniforms, carrying identical bags, pour into shiny big buildings in Kota. At lunch, the batch empties out on the streets, only to be replaced by another. In the evening too, batches of students can be seen streaming out onto the crowded streets lined with food stalls and shops.
These are Kota’s IIT coaching factories.
On April 28, 17-year-old Kriti Tripathi jumped to death from a five-storey building in Kota, leaving a suicide note with a plea to the government to shut coaching institutes as soon as possible. Hers is the fifth suicide by a Kota coaching student this year.

The first step
Shahid Asgar is glad that he is finally leaving Kota (he has got into an engineering institute). The 18-year-old came to Kota two years ago from Katihar, Bihar, with a dream of cracking the IIT entrance exam. As he packs his belongings into cardboard boxes in his small, dingy room in Kota’s Rajeev Gandhi Nagar, he talks about the first time he arrived in Kota.
“When I saw the rows of cycles parked in front of the Resonance (a coaching institute) building, I got scared. The enormity of the competition hits you in that moment,” says Asgar. Students as young as twelve or thirteen come to Kota. Surrounded by people with seemingly greater drive and ability, that’s when the new kids get their first taste of self-doubt, falling prey to mounting pressure within a month or two. Some stay for a year or more while others stay longer, preparing for the exam.
“The number of attempts a student can take depends on his/her financial background,” says Shubham Talukdar. Talukdar is from Siliguri in North Bengal and came to Kota a year ago to prepare for the medical entrance examinations, also a big part of Kota’s coaching industry. “If your father is not rich enough and you miss your only shot, it leads to depression,” he says.
Expectations are high. Students are ranked according to their performance by the coaching institutes. Parents – through phone calls or personal visits – keep track of their progress. “Sometimes parents call and even before they ask how you are, they ask about your rank,” says another student, Debjyoti Sen, also form Bengal.

In the gruelling coaching schedules, students make time for recreation by visiting parks, malls, cyber cafes or watching films on their phones downloaded from the cafes. (Raj K Raj / Hindustan Times)
Taking a toll
Students chart out their own schedules, sometimes forcing themselves into strict routines. For almost a year Manish* stuck to a punishing routine – from early morning till late at night, he wouldn’t leave his room except to attend classes or go out for a meal. Was he doing enough? Was he taking full advantage of all the opportunities? These thoughts kept coming to his mind.

Finally, a nervous Manish was taken to psychiatrist ML Agrawal by his worried landlady. He falteringly described what he had gone through. Son of a farmer from Bihar, he had to be treated for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, a common disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, recurring thoughts. His dream of cracking IIT entrance had turned into an obsession.
“Weird thoughts used to come to my mind, and I would imagine them to be real,” says Manish. “It was getting difficult to differentiate between what was real and what was not.” One of the top rankers at Resonance, Manish is doing well after counselling, and has cleared the JEE Mains.
Social stigma associated with depression forces students to bottle up their feelings. “Not every case of depression leads to suicide,” says ML Agrawal, the doctor who runs the Agrawal Neuro Psychiatry Centre in Kota, along with a 24x7 helpline for students. “Students find themselves lonely with no one to talk to and that aggravates a condition that is treatable.”
Fear of failure
Then there is societal pressure. “There is always a fear of what people will say,” says Asgar. “For example, if I get into an IIT, my father will be happy and proudly tell everyone. But what if I don’t? What will he say?”
ML Agrawal points out that parents too contribute to building stress, often overlooking the interest and aptitude of their kids. “Also, the age at which adolescents come here is the time when they go through physical as well as psychological changes. Failing to understand such changes, they fall prey to misguidance or go into depression.”

The wall of the Radha Krishna temple in Kota’s Talwandi is popular among students scribble their wishes in the hope that their prayers will be answered. (Raj K Raj / Hindustan Times)
Sixteen year-old Neha* from Udaipur shifted to Kota with her father a year ago and took admission in Aakash coaching institute. Neha talks about how she was told by her peers that cannabis would help her concentrate and also relax her mind. So she tried. “Weed and other drugs are easily available,” she says.
Separation anxiety, according to Agrawal, also affects both parents and children, making parents over-involved in the lives of their children. With everyone ultra-focused on success, perhaps we have created a system where students don’t know how to fail.
The Radha-Krishna temple in Kota’s Talwandi is a sombre testimony to this. A place frequented by youngsters in search of divine help, it is believed that whoever writes on the temple’s wall gets their prayers answered. And it is not just studies that they pray for. From life to family to relationships and heartbreaks, all kinds of messages are scrawled on the wall. It paints a grim picture of the life of a Kota student.

*some names changed on request

The great Indian IIT dream: Why parents want children to be engineers - Hindustan Times


  • Poulomi Banerjee, Hindustan TimesUpdated: May 15, 2016 12:28 IST
Kalu Sarai is not Kota. Or so people would like you to believe. 

This New Delhi neighbourhood has some obvious differences with the Rajasthan town that made its reputation as the country’s coaching hub for IIT and has recently been in news for a spate of student suicides.

For one, even though Kalu Sarai attracts IIT aspirants from the city and indeed from all over the country, it is just one neighbourhood in the sprawling national capital. Unlike Kota, where even auto drivers mark you as an IIT hopeful, or the parent of one, as soon as you alight at the station, in Delhi, cabbies don’t make that obvious connect the minute you give a Kalu Sarai address. Institutes here also claim that they ensure that students don’t feel unduly stressed about the competition that lies ahead.

A beginning is made
When the first India Institute of Technology (IIT) was set up in Kharagpur, West Bengal, in 1950, the aim was to create an institution for higher technical learning to boost post-war industrial development in India. Over the years as the number of IITs went up, the focus seems to have shifted to creating good employment opportunities for its students. It is so at least in the minds of the country’s vast middle class populace. “For years engineering, medical and the administrative services have been the professions of choice for the middle class,” explains sociologist Dipankar Gupta. “Engineering is the most preferred since there are more colleges offering engineering. Other professions have come up in recent years, but one often needs to be well connected to get those jobs. For most people, the chances of getting a job with an engineering degree are far better than with a simple bachelor of science or arts degree.”

Once that decision has been taken, the IIT is the next obvious choice. “On an average, an IIT degree helps one start at a 50% higher salary than a degree from a less pedigreed engineering college,” says Chiranjit Banerjee, managing director of People Plus, a Bangalore-based recruiting agency. Every year, placement season sees some IITian hit newspaper headlines by bagging that dream Google or Microsoft job with a salary varying between Rs 1.5 to Rs 2 crore, thus inspiring a fresh batch of aspirants to make an IIT degree the mission of their young lives.

“The number of students appearing for the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) for engineering has increased from 12 lakh to 14 lakh in the past five years. The IITs have a total of only 10,000 seats” says  R Subramanyam, additional secretary (technical education), ministry of human resource development.


An IIT coaching centre in New Delhi’s Kalu Sarai (Saumya Khandelwal/HT Photo)

Living on hope
Thus are born hubs like Kota, or Kalu Sarai in Delhi, that sell the hope of realising the big Indian IIT dream . Other cities too have their trusted institutes. “There are about 25 coaching centres for engineering in Kalu Sarai. The demand for tuition ensures that about two-three new centres open up every year,” says the manager of an institute.

To enter the area is like entering into an institute campus. FIITJEE, Bansal, TIME, Guidance, Narayana – the row of institutes is seemingly never ending. Employees of each institute hang around the lane, trying to solicit new students. 

Overhead fliers carry photographs of JEE toppers and the names of institutes that have trained them. Book shops too sport advertisements of the latest JEE result or books that can help crack the test. Other fliers inform of rooms available for rent for students. Shops selling fruit juice, tea or momos are thronged with students taking a quick break on their way in or out of classes. The conversation is all about engineering. Just to have made it so far is like half the battle won. The failure of his first attempt at getting a good enough ranking at JEE pushed Rishah Chauhan to a Kalu Sarai coaching centre. “I have got admission to an engineering college, but I want to try again for IIT,” he says.

It is this hope that made Sanjay Kumar Sharma, a shopkeeper in Bihar’s Motihari town, send his two sons to study at a coaching institute in Kalu Sarai as soon as they appeared for their class 10 board examinations. “When I was young there was no one to motivate me. But when I saw the children of many of my family members studying engineering, I encouraged my sons to do the same,” says Sharma, who paid Rs 1,68,000 to get his elder son admitted last year for a two-year coaching programme. “The younger one, Sarvajit, got a scholarship and so I had to pay only Rs 58,000 for him this year,” says the proud father, who pays an additional Rs 20,000 as hostel fees for both his sons. He is willing to sell off the family-owned land in Bihar or take a loan to fund the boys’ education once they get into engineering college.

KEY FIGURES
  • 14 lakh
  • number of aspirants for JEE, which has gone up from 12 lakhs in the last five years
  • 10,000
  • Total number of IIT seats.
  • 2.9 cr
  • Number of jobs in the organised sector in India (as of March 2011).
  • Source: Ministry of Human Resource Development and Ministry of Labour and Employment

But sitting in his coaching centre classroom, 16-year-old Sarvajit is already bored of the subject. “I wanted to be in the Army. If I tell my father that I’m not enjoying this, I think he will let me quit. But I don’t have the heart to tell him,” he says.
Classes are held for approximately six hours a day, during day time for those who have completed school and during afternoons and evenings for school-going aspirants. But most out-station aspirants, like Sarvajit and his brother, prefer to enrol at some school in their hometown in the distance education mode and keep the focus on the IIT preparation. “School fees in Delhi are beyond my means,” adds their father.
Students are alloted classes on the basis on grades and regular tests are done to upgrade or downgrade the students. Sixteen-year-old Rishabh has just started a two-year coaching programme after appearing for his class X board examinations this year. His smile is wistful when asked if he misses playing or hanging out with friends, watching movies or just sleeping during the holidays, but is quick to add that it is worth it. The IIT dream is his own, he insists. While his mother, Nidhi, says they never put any pressure on him, she admits that she worries about pressure from friends and extended family. “They are always saying that Rishabh is brilliant and is sure to get into IIT. That is a kind of pressure,” she says.

Engineering aspirant in New Delhi’s Kalu Sarai, the IIT coaching hub of Delhi (Saumya Khandelwal/HT Photo)

Pressure to perform
Often the pressure to perform is linked to the awareness of the financial burden parents must bear for their education. Like Sharman Joshi’s character in the film 3 Idiots, based on Chetan Bhagat’s novel Five Point Someone, whose every visit home is a reminder that his unmarried sister, ailing father and struggling mother need him to get his degree and a job.

It’s an awareness that also haunts 21-year-old Massouwir, who is preparing for the JEE for the second time. “My father is a mason. He has already paid Rs 65,000 tuition fees for a year of coaching. He does ask me what guarantee is there that I will be able to clear the test,” says Massouwir, sitting in a small dingy room in Kalu Sarai that he shares with another student. Though his family lives in Ghaziabad, he prefers to stay as a paying guest here, paying Rs 3,500 a month and an additional Rs 2,500 for his meals. “It saves travel time if I stay close to the coaching centres,” he explains. The room has two narrow beds for the two occupants and a single table piled high with books.
Even success at times fails to alleviate the stress. Counselling psychologist Geetanjali Kumar talks of a recent case where a student broke down after clearing the JEE Mains. “Though she was good in science, engineering was not something that interested her and she was worried that since she had cleared JEE, her parents’ expectations from her would go up,” says Kumar, adding that she gets about 15-20 such cases every month, where parents try to pressurise their children to study engineering because they think it is a more stable career choice.


Need to listen
In her five-page suicide note, Kriti Tripathi, who jumped to her death on April 28 in Kota, accused her mother of manipulating her as a child into liking science. She warned her against doing the same with her sister. Moved by the suicides and the letters left behind by the students, Kota collector Dr Ravi Kumar Surpur recently wrote an open letter to parents advising them against putting such pressure on their children.


Meanwhile, at a coaching centre in Delhi, a group of 50 students stare uncomprehendingly when asked whether the IIT dream was theirs or their parents. “Most of those studying for engineering take it up because they have been advised by their parents that it is a safe career option or because they see others around them pursuing the same,” says IITian Gaurav Tiwari, who is faculty at a coaching centre in New Delhi. “But we can’t really expect a 16-17-year-old in India to know what he wants to do in life. If we have to empower children to make their choices, we have to change the very pattern of our education, so that a child can make an informed choice.”

In its absence, parents too spare little time to understand a child’s aptitude. “Most parents don’t try to understand their children. They lose the capacity to listen. Often they live in denial and assure themselves that the child will not really come to any harm. They prefer to believe that once they clear the tests everything will fall in place,” says Kumar. Kriti understood this. In her suicide note, she wrote, “Some might even say that she was so strong that we would never have imagined that she would do something like this… This is because I helped many come out of their depression and make a comeback. Funny, I couldn’t do that to myself”.

The single-minded focus on getting into an engineering college means that often students are not even exposed to what is happening in the world around them. “Such learning by rote may not prepare them to be an engineer in the true sense — someone with problem solving and coping ability,” says Kumar.


And India is not alone in this. In South Korea, parents send their children to institutes giving private tuitions, popularly known as crammers, to make sure they get into good universities. Unsurprisingly, Korean institutes like Etoos have opened in Kota.

Back in India, despite the rat race, some, like Rancho, Amir Khan’s character in 3 Idiots, manage to keep their inner quest alive. Very few like Rajiv Bagchi (name changed on request) actually manage to break out of the system without worrying about whether it’s too late to change track. After completing his BTech from IIT, the 28-year-old is now doing a PhD in Philosophy. The son of an engineer father, he finally realised where his interests lay.




Friday, May 13, 2016

Chandigarh writer’s debut book Lurking Demons: - NYOOOZ

Chandigarh writer’s debut book Lurking Demons: ‘We can’t choose our birth, but we can control our death’


Summary: Writer Jaskaran Chauhan in Chandigarh on Saturday. (Express photo by-Jaipal Singh) 

Writer Jaskaran Chauhan in Chandigarh on Saturday. (Express photo by-Jaipal Singh)

MORE THAN the love stories based out of IITs, it is the absurd, the unresolved, the questionable that appeals to the writer in Jaskaran Chauhan. “For most of the times, the reasons stem from one’s own fears and is hardly anywhere near the truth. We cannot choose our birth, but we can control our death.

So, when she quit her job as an architect and returned to her beloved world of art and musings in 2014, she chose a rather dark and conflicted subject as the premise for her debut short fiction book. Published by Pune-based APK Publishers, Lurking Demons watches a man take his life and chronicles the reasons people in his life try to give and console themselves with for this ‘ungodly’ act. Cowardice, personal sorrow, terminal illness — while there can be multiple reasons for suicide, for Chauhan, it was an essay by philosopher Albert Camus that pointed her in the direction of a reasoning so absurd that it made her sit up and explore it. Camus, in his 1942 essay The Myth of Sisyphus, struggles with the question whether “the realisation of the meaninglessness and absurdity of life necessarily require suicide”. “To some level, he justifies suicide, as an act of free will.

Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/chandigarh-writers-debut-book-lurking-demons-we-cant-choose-our-birth-but-we-can-control-our-death-2794531/

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Students’ suicides in premier institutions trigger alarm - Assam Tribune

SANJOY RAY

GUWAHATI, May 10 - Blame it on peer or parental pressure or academic stress, even the most fertile brains are falling prey to the fatal side of depression. Students of the Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati (IITG) are no exception either.

Repeated incidents of students’ suicide at the IITG, which is more than just a centre of academic excellence for the people of Assam (result of Assam agitation), has once again raised questions whether all was well in the country’s one of the premier institutes.

Is IITG going to repeat the ugly string of suicides that institutes like IIT Kharagpur, IIT Kanpur and IIT Madras or for that matter at Kota, which is dubbed as the coaching capital for students in India, had witnessed in the recent history?

Although the IITG came into being in 1995, the frequency of cases of the IITG students taking the extreme step has increased in the past few years. Of the total of seven incidents of suicides reported till date, four of them took place in the last two years itself.

In addition to this, four students had gone missing from its campus and there was one case of natural death since its inception.

There were also four incidents of accidental deaths of students in the IITG, reports available with the Assam Police stated.
Reports that appeared in various publications suggest that IIT Kharagpur had reported over 20 suicides in the last seven years or so. Similarly, IIT Madras in the past six years has seen 10 of its students taking the extreme step.

The IIT Kanpur too is not far behind. Since 2005, 15 students of this prestigious institute have reportedly killed themselves.
But the ugliest face of academic pressure imposed more often by the parents was there to be seen in Kota of Rajasthan. In the last five years, the country’s coaching capital has seen nearly 56 of their students committing suicide.

An official of the IITG, when contacted, said, “We are equally worried about such incidents. However, I must say that reasons are not always related to academic stress. We too are feeling the same sense of loss like their family members.”

The official said that the institution is giving utmost importance on stress/depression counselling. “It has also formed peer groups, which apart from remaining vigilant about any abnormal behaviour, will also emphasis on proper counselling. At present, we have three of them at present,” he added.


The IITG, since the last couple of years, has also laid importance on certain co-curricular activities, especially for the undergraduates, so that they lead an active life, which at the same time will keep the negative thoughts away.

Shut Down IIT Coaching Centres, Aspirant Who Killed Herself In Kota Last Week Wrote In Her Suicide Note - India Times




May 11, 2016

The suicide note of a 17-year old girl from Ghaziabad who committed suicide last week in Rajasthan's Kota has thrown light into the trauma a lot of students there go through.

Bhaskar

The five-page letter recovered by police details how Kriti Tripathi, and many of her classmates went through depression and stress while undergoing coaching.

In fact, in her letter she pleads that the ministry of human resources development (HRD) should shut down coaching institutes since they subjected the students to unbearable stress and depression.

"She said that coaching institutes should be shut down. She implied that these coaching institutes cause unbearable stress among students," SHO, Jawahar Nagar police station Harshit Bharati said.
In the suicide note, Kriti said she helped several of her friends to come out of depression, she couldn't do the same for herself. "Most people who would hear of my suicide would not believe it, but they don't know what has been going on in my mind," Kriti said in her suicide note.

Kriti, who committed suicide by jumping from the fifth floor of her residential building on April 28 had in fact cleared the JEE and was eligible for engineering admission. Police said, the girl took the extreme step as she did not want to become an engineering. She wanted to become an astrophysicist. She stated that she also liked literature and history.
She had received an award from NASA and wanted to join the space agency as a scientist. Kriti was the latest name in an alarming fast growing list of young students in Kota ending their lives as they find it unable to cope up with the pressure of competitive coaching and the additional weight of the expectations from their families. 
With the number of students deaths going up, the authorities had to step in last year, organising de-stressing camps and awareness classes students and their parents. 
With inputs from TOI


Shut Coaching Institutes: Kota Student's Suicide Letter - NDTV

Shut Coaching Institutes: Kota Student's Suicide Letter

Cities | Press Trust of India | Updated: May 10, 2016 19:32 IST

KOTA (RAJASTHAN): 

HIGHLIGHTS
  1. 17-year-old jumped to her death despite having cracked IIT-JEE mains
  2. In four-page suicide note, she wrote all coaching centres should be shut
  3. Students subjected to unbearable stress and depression, she wrote

Coaching institutes should be shut down by the government, wrote a 17-year-old student before jumping to her death from the fifth floor of her residence in Kota on April 28, despite having cracked the IIT-JEE mains.

In her four-page long suicide note, the contents of which have been released by police, the girl expressed her desire to join NASA as a scientist and her lack of interest in engineering.

A Ghaziabad resident, Kirti had been staying with her parents for over two years in Kota and taking coaching for IIT-JEE at an institute in the city.

The suicide note says she was not able to put up with the depression and stress that she had been experiencing while taking coaching, said Harish Bharti, Station House Officer, Jawharnagar police station.

In her note, Kirti said the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry should shut down the coaching institutes, complaining that studies in these centres subjected the students to unbearable stress and depression.

Though she cracked the ITT-JEE mains by scoring 144 marks, engineering was a field in which she had no interest, Mr Bharti said, referring to her letter.

He said Kirti had received an award from NASA and wanted to join the space agency as a scientist.

Another teenager, a BA first year student, died yesterday during treatment after having attempted suicide on May 7 at her residence in Shivpura area of the city.

The deceased has been identified as Preeti Singh (18), police said.

She allegedly attempted suicide by hanging herself from a ceiling fan as she was stressed due to studies, they said, adding the body has been handed over to her family. This is the ninth suicide by a student in Kota this year.

Behind Kota student suicides, a boulevard of broken dreams and longing-Daily0.in


It's easy to buckle under pressure. But can you blame the racing track or the goal post for casualties on the way?

SEEMI PASHA @seemi_pasha

When a fifth suicide was reported in Kota this year, I was asked to travel to the coaching hub and file a report on why students were killing themselves.

A Google search threw up a variety of results: from suicide letters to names and addresses of coaching centres promising successful careers. There were news articles and videos with catchy headlines, stressing on alliterations such as "Why Kota kills"; "Why Kota is so killing"; "Kota coaching factory"... I scanned through all of them and sent my "story brief" for approval- with a headline that read - "Kota's killer classrooms".


Is it fair to say that Kota has killer classrooms?
I thought I'd cracked it. Even before I reached, I had somewhat decided that Kota was to be blamed for student suicides and its coaching centres were killing factories...but I was in for a surprise. Here's the report I filed:

It's a breeding ground for academic excellence. A city that helps thousands of students every year realise their dreams of becoming an engineer or a doctor. But five suicides this year and about 19 last year have cast a shadow of doubt over Kota's report card. Can Kota actually be blamed for unrealistic expectations... is it nurturing dreams or destroying them in a pressure test?

The heat-induced dullness of the railway station is broken by a familiar ring, followed by the chirpy voice of an announcer, reporting the arrival of train. The blue reptile slowly creeps in, heavy with a fresh load of hopes, dreams and aspirations its bringing into this town.

Tired after a long travel, passengers step out into the heat. For some Kota is their final destination. For youngsters like Krishna and Praveen, it's the beginning of a long journey. These brothers have come to this small town to fulfil their big city dreams.

"I've cleared the entrance for NIT this year, all thanks to Kota. I've come back to get my younger brother admitted to a coaching centre," said 18-year-old Krishna Kanth Gautam. When I ask 16 year Praveen why he wants to become an engineer, he says "paisa kamayenge, aur kya"( to earn money, why else)".

For students like Krishna and Praveen, who weren't born in the lap of luxury, Kota provides an equal footing to compete with their more privileged contemporaries.

The new arrivals are greeted with representatives of coaching centres, aiming to catch them at the doorstep. As soon as we turn our cameras in their direction, they flee, leaving behind empty kiosks.Kota's skyline is dotted with billboards, every light post, every electric tower, every inch of concrete, which can be used to celebrate academic success, is used up.

Driving past a coaching centre, we find a family looking a little lost. Dinesh Aggarwal, 40, who sells readymade garments in Dauji, a small village near Hathrus, has come to Kota to secure an admission of his first-born.

"I have four children but I won't be able to send all of them to college. If he can become an engineer, it's enough," he told me. A shy 17-year-old, who is used to standing behind his parents, Pawan is determined to use this as an opportunity to turn the fortunes of his family.

Inside classrooms, students sit tucked behind a row of desks, listening intently to teachers whose classes their parents have paid for with their hard earned money. Scribbling copious notes, twirling pens between their fingers, intent on finding the value of X and Y - they try to soak in as much as they can.

As the teacher winds up, students pour out of the class, rushing to the next. While speaking to most children, we realise, they don't necessarily want to become engineers. They want to become IITians.

17-year-old Riya Singh, who has come to Kota from Madhya Pradesh, said, "I have an elder brother who is in IIT Delhi. My father is also an engineer. I have no specific dream, I just want to get admission into an IIT."

In the race to the country's top technical institutes, there is no space for weakness. Lakhs of students spend thousands of hours pouring over books with a single-minded goal.

Coaching institutes drive students to perform their best. They're paid to do so, they say. "Toppers and brilliant students can manage anywhere. It's the average students who have to work harder to reduce the gap between their performance. They need to study more," said Narendra Awasthi, who runs Vibrant Academy. He's worried about the coaching centre's reputation.

It was here that 17-year-old Kriti was pursuing, if not hers, then her parents' dream of securing an admission into an IIT.

The owners takes great pains to distance the coaching institute from her suicide. "She was a good student. She took the exam with 12 lakh students and made it to the shortlisted category of two lakhs, but sometimes students get pressurised for a variety of reasons. I don't know much. From what I've heard, her parents wanted her to pursue engineering," he said.

A student counsellor with close to ten years of experience, Dr Surbhi Goel claims, it's easy to identify candidates who are not suited for such a gruelling curriculum. She claims coaching institutes admit students despite poor performances in entrance tests and lack of aptitude. She also feels, students who have a family history of violence or come from troubles families are more prone to harming themselves than others.

Even as student suicides cloud Kota's reputation, there are also those who feel they've greatly benefitted from this coaching hub. Arpit Maheshwari said: "I have opted to do something more creative, not just book to book. I love technology". I want to have access to the most advanced technology in the world. I want to make everything in this world technologically advanced".

18-year-old Arpit is from the same school as Kriti. The two had been studying at the same coaching centre and both managed to clear the mains. Unfortunately, he alone will be appearing for the Advance test. "You can't fault the parents for wanting a good life for their child," he said. "IIT ensures a good life but it is only a part of life. The struggle is."

And a good life is what these coaching institutes promise. Standing next to his long white Mercedes, the owner of Vibrant Academy, is a poster boy for students. As they ride out into the night, pushing the pedals on the dirt track, they realise it's going to be a long journey.

Not very far away, at Allen Career Institute, Kota's largest coaching centre, dreams are being sold, but with a disclaimer.

The CEO, while addressing a gathering of close to ten thousand IIT aspirants and their parents, tells them that he can guarantee that only 25 per cent of those who enrol with the coaching institute will qualify.
Dressed in uniforms, carrying identical bags, students are provided with a school-like atmosphere in this coaching institute.
"We have introduced uniforms so children aren't distracted with clothes and what others are wearing. If they only need clothes to cover their bodies, they will become like saints in the pursuit of higher education," said Brajesh Maheshwari, director, Allen's coaching institute.

17-year-old Anshu Surana from Dinajpur in West Bengal, is a student of Class 12. She tells us that she spends about five hours every day at the coaching centre and another four to six hours studying at home. But how does she manage school?
"I somehow manage school, it is not like we have to be there every day."

It took me some time to fully understand how students in Class 11 and 12 were managing hectic coaching schedules and of homework with school hours.

The concept of dummy schools, I realised, is a given in Kota. Coaching institutes either set up dummy schools or tie up with schools that allow students to appear for exams without fulfilling their attendance requirements.
It's a concept based on the belief that school education beyond Class 10 is a waste of time.

Dummy schools are Kota's best kept secret. Out of the approximate 1.5 lakh students who come here every year, two thirds are either in Class 11 or Class 12.
Pulled out of school, away from friends and family, and preparing for some of the toughest entrance exams, these students are exposed to extreme pressure situations.

Student counsellor Dr Surbhi Goel said, "School education is important for children. It provides for all-round development. You study a wide variety of subjects and there's time for fun and games as well. By taking them out and throwing them in an alien environment, you're harming them."

A city once known for its cotton and stone industries, Kota is today thriving on its coaching classes. The increasing influx of students doesn't just mean more business for coaching centres but also for hostel owners and real estate developers who offer studio apartments on short-term basis.

In Rajiv Gandhi Nagar, every home owner has put up rooms on rent with billboards offering fully furnished accommodation at a reasonable price.

Driving through entire colonies of hostels, we arrive at a building that offers houses for mother plus child.
Here we're told hundreds of mothers have moved in with their children who are preparing for engineering and medical entrance exams.

Seeking divine intervention to ensure her son's success, Keertana Mahajan says this is her second stint at Kota. "I was here for 12 months, three years ago, when my elder son was preparing for the test. He managed to crack the IIT entrance and get an admission in Roorkee," she said.

His success encouraged her to take up the challenge again for her second child. This time she's going to be here for two years.
For 20,000 a month, she's managed to get a furnished apartment with a prayer room, washbasin, TV and kitchen intact. "I know I have to live away from my husband and home, but mothers make sacrifices for their children," she said.

As Keertana prepares lunch for her son, Mudit focuses on his IIT dream. He says his brother is his role model. "When my brother cleared the IIT entrance, my god, what a life..." he says.

Unlike Mudit, Akash doesn't have a comfortable home or a mother to go back to in the city. He eats alone at local dhabas after class. He's passionate about cricket, but has no time for pursuing hobbies right now. He hopes his stay in the coaching hub will help him secure a better future.

"I don't like Kota, it's not nice, but what to do. I'm going to finish my course and leave. I'm here for a purpose," said Akash Chaudhary, who is preparing for the MBBS entrance test.

After dinner, the lonely teenager gets on his bicycle and disappears into the dark. There are others who hang around for a bit longer, a luxury they seldom allow themselves.
Racing on with blinkers without a break, it's easy to buckle under pressure. But can you blame the racing track or the goal post for casualties on the way?

Is it fair to say that Kota has killer classrooms? I think not, having said that, it will also be foolish to brush the suicides under the carpet. Statistically, it might seem insignificant.
What parents and teachers perhaps need to realise is that pursuing dreams is important but when it comes to choices...they should ensure that students choose life.

I wrote this piece after spending 48 hours in Kota. The day the documentary was suppose to go on air, another student suicide was reported. Was I wrong in saying that Kota cannot be blamed, I'm not sure.


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Nobody Wants to Talk About the Student Suicides in Kota - Quint


Aviral Virk

May 9, 2016, 11:55 pm

Student suicides make for bad PR. The coaching institutes of Kota would rather talk about their success stories – a welder’s son who got picked by Microsoft for a Rs 1.2 crore package, or the student who cracked the IIT (Main), despite her disability.
The marketing teams of the top coaching institutes would prefer to appropriate the success of the drop-out who became the toast of the start-up industry, or the wannabe coder who junked engineering to write a book. The fact that these “failed” students of Kota went on create success stories in spite of, and not because of the country’s coaching factory, is a fact they’d rather obfuscate.

“Actually, it [news of suicides] demotivates other students”, says the senior marketing manager of a leading coaching institute, from where the maximum number of suicides were reported last year.

Suicide note of an 18-year-old student who committed suicide last year. (Photo: The Quint)

The Ostrich Approach
With big money riding on the coaching institutes, the unwritten moratorium on student suicides is almost universal.
Once a dying industrial town, Kota got a new lease more than two decades ago when Bansal Coaching Classes started expanding. Today, there’s construction in every direction you look. Massive malls, high-rise residential complexes which will serve as hostels for the 1.5 lakh outstation students and restaurants serving Bihari litti-chokha and “U.P specialities” are commonplace. There’s even talk of reviving the defunct airport, now a ghost-town in the middle of civilisation.

Mr VK Bansal is considered the pioneer of the coaching industry in Kota. (Photo: The Quint)

To not talk about the 19 suicides in 2015 and the six suicides this year, due to the “fear of demotivating other students”, is naive and bound to have dangerous consequences.

“If suicides were to go up by just reporting, then they should’ve been a daily occurrence”, says Samkit Jain, a Kota-based journalist who’s been privy to the meetings between the district administration and representatives of the coaching institutes.

Talking About Student Suicides Helps
For one, coaching institutes which charge approximately Rs 70,000 for a year’s tuition fees did not have a student-friendly refund policy. Most coaching institutes permitted a partial refund within a month, but most students who wanted to drop out mid-year were unable to do so without letting the entire year’s fee going to waste. Financial burden was a recurring theme in a majority of the suicide notes recovered last year. This is bound to go a long way in relieving the stress off the students and their families.

Secondly, not all coaching institutes had experienced counsellors on call. The district administration had made it mandatory for the coaching centres to have senior counsellors available for students in distress.

Dr ML Aggarwal has been helping train counsellors who are employed at the helpline centre in Kota. (Photo: The Quint)

Thirdly, a helpline number (0744-2333666) which had been suspended due to paucity of funds has been restarted by the Hope Society with the help of the district administration and a group of coaching institutes. Dr ML Aggarwal who helped set it up, says they’re still not able to advertise the helpline number effectively, but are still able to help 2-4 seriously distressed callers each day.

Shut coaching institutes: Kota student's suicide note - Deccan Herald


Kota (Raj), May 10, 2016 (PTI)

Coaching institutes should be shut down by the government, wrote a 17-year-old student before jumping to her death from the fifth floor of her residence here on April 28, despite having cracked the IIT-JEE mains.

In her four-page long suicide note, the contents of which have been released by police, the girl expressed her desire to join NASA as a scientist and her lack of interest in engineering.

A Ghaziabad resident, Kirti had been staying with her parents for over two years in Kota and taking coaching for IIT-JEE at an institute in the city.

The suicide note says she was not able to put up with the depression and stress that she had been experiencing while taking coaching, according to Harish Bharti, SHO, Jawharnagar police station today.

In a line from her note, Kirti said the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry should shut down the coaching institutes, complaining that studies in these centres subjected the students to unbearable stress and depression.

Though she cracked the ITT-JEE mains by scoring 144 marks, engineering was a field in which she had no interest, the SHO said, referring to her letter.

He said Kirti had received an award from NASA and wanted to join the space agency as a scientist.

In her letter, she addressed family members, including her grandparents, parents and sister, and expressed deep love and attachment for each of them, the SHO said.

Another teenager, a BA first year student, died yesterday during treatment after having attempted suicide on May 7 at her residence in Shivpura area of the city.

The deceased has been identified as Preeti Singh (18), police said.
She allegedly attempted suicide by hanging herself from a ceiling fan as she was stressed due to studies, they said, adding the body has been handed over to her family.
This is the ninth suicide by a student in Kota this year. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

'I couldn't clear JEE Mains and my parents won't talk to me' - Catch News

'I couldn't clear JEE Mains and my parents won't talk to me'


I didn't get a good score in JEE Mains. Will I ever be successful in life?"

"My parents are not talking to me because I couldn't clear JEE Mains. How will they show their face to their friends?"
"I studied only for eight hours. My friends studied for 16 hours a day."

These are some of the actual questions that student helplines have received after the JEE Mains results were declared on 27 April this year.

Clearing the two-tiered JEE exam (Mains and Advanced) along with scoring well in the Class 12 examination is no child's play. And yet, this is what 17-year-olds in India are required to do in order to make it to an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT).
"The JEE exam is associated with pride and success. If you are an IITian, you are considered to be successful in life," says Richa Singh, an IIT Guwahati alumna.

"I was also in Kota and can relate to what aspirants are going through. There is an extreme competition to get into the IITs or into good medical colleges. Aspirants get up at 4AM, study till 12PM. Life has no other meaning," she adds.
Singh is now the founder of YourDost, an initiative to help students and aspirants overcome depression.

While the race to join IITs seems to claim a number of lives every year - with five student suicides this year alone - it is important to note that these institutes rank poorly in the list of world's best universities.