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Monday, May 21, 2018

Reformation Is The Only Option - Hans India

THE HANS INDIA |   May 18,2018 , 06:09 AM IST
   
 Education is preparation for life and it should nurture personal excellence among learners who in turn contribute to social and national progress. 

But this qualitative vision is missing altogether in our education system. The recent remarks of the Union HRD Minister at an event in Madhya Pradesh confirm this fact. He expressed that there was a need to reform our education system. He said that our curriculum was devoid of values, creativity, life skills and physical education.

Educationists, teachers, parents and thinkers are much worried about the painful outcomes of today's education. Many of today's social ills are the results of our ineffective system of education. 

A trainee Assistant Superintendent of Police was caught red-handed in Chennai, six months ago, while cheating in a UPSC examination using concealed electronic devices. A 17-year old Intermediate student went missing from her junior college in Hyderabad in October last year. 

She left a letter behind in which she alleged that the management of the college was killing students to read all the time and asked her parents to help the other students by closing the college. 

A student studying in class 12 in Haryana gunned down his school's principal inside her office with a revolver in January this year because the principal warned him for his low attendance. A third-year student of Ph.D. committed suicide in the IIT Kanpur a month ago owing to severe stress. In February this year a student studying in class seven in Gurgaon, putting a post in Facebook, threatened to rape one of his teachers and her minor daughter.

These are just a few examples that reflect the poor face value of our present education. Lack of vision and basic amenities, inapt information, verbose teaching, marks-oriented evaluation, and rules without humane concern have made our teaching-learning process a dry activity. The Ministry of HRD, on its invitation, received 34,000 suggestions from citizens to overhaul our education. 

The citizens' response represents the people's eagerness for immediate result-oriented interventions in the system. Since the hurdles are deep rooted in different dimensions, the required reformation is possible only with true commitment and the Himalayan patience of all the concerned. 

The central government conducted a national survey last year to assess the learning efficiency and general awareness of students studying in the 3rd, 5th and 8th grades. 1200 observers assessed 2.5 million students. 

The observers were aghast at the findings. Many students failed to show even the minimum awareness in mother tongue, Mathematics, Social Studies, Science and Environmental Studies. They did not know the 1857 battle. They couldn't recognize time in clocks. They could not answer the questions pertaining to relations and their names. More surprisingly they had no awareness about the number of players in games like volleyball and chess!

Than being need-based, our curriculum is rather information-oriented. The HRD Minister himselfagreed that the NCERT school syllabus was more than that of B.A. and B.Com courses and there was a need to reduce it to half. Factors like interest, home environment, health, learning ambience, practical orientation, motivation that influence students' learning are not given adequate importance in the designing of the curriculum. 

Difference in syllabi and publications is not paving a way for uniformity and integrity in students' learning. Languages are taught only as a part of the syllabus. The fact that language is a tool of personal excellence, cultural progress and influential leadership is totally being ignored. In the southern States, for example, Hindi, at the school level, is taught for the sake of marks and certification. 

That is why students just ignore it after class 10 and they face many hurdles once they enter into their career leaving their State. English is another episode of nation-wide pain. Finally our students are branded as poor communicators. Our curriculum has little life. It is producing strife!

The learning ambience is terribly gloomy in many institutions. Students have no classrooms and desks to sit. Majority of the schools are lacking in basic amenities. They have no boundary walls and play grounds. Toilets also are greedy expectations in them.
No nation develops beyond wisdom of its teachers. The teaching profession, which was accorded a lofty place in the past, is considered today as the last option of those who have lost all other career opportunities. 

Many teachers are working with de-motivated mood on account of several factors like contractual recruitment, deployment for non-academic activities, poor career prospects and so on. Technology is little made use of in classrooms. The outdated teaching methodology is not able to breathe life into teachers' explanations. Teachers are not empowered with qualitative training. 

The wisdom of apex research organizations like NCERT is confined just to their premises and their fragrance is nowhere seen outside. In this context teachers' performance in their professional tasks is feeble. In the recent times certain unethical practices of some teachers all over the country are posing a threat to the dignity of the profession.

Our examinations are nightmares to students. They have become synonymous with terrorizing enemies. Certain of our examination rules are so inhuman that students are doubted as criminals. Girls are being asked to remove their innerwear in public at the venues of examination.

 The examination authorities are following paper rules without reasoning. They are aggressive and dominant towards innocent students and the real culprits are out of their sight! In some States, students are not allowed, during board examinations, to write the test if they arrive late at the Centre even by one minute! 

It is apt here to see how negligent our evaluation system is. National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) is a top organization that runs with the slogan of quality and holistic education. 

A parent with great trust in the distance learning admitted his child to the Senior Secondary programme in NIOS. The student, out of her personal interest, opted for 2 extra subjects besides the prescribed ones. Appearing at the 2016 examinations she received the memo with fail marks in one subject.

 Considering the daughter's confidence and following the officially permitted procedures the father got photocopy of her evaluated answer sheets and was shocked after seeing the evaluator's injustice. He found negligent cross lines even against the correct answers. 

A one-mark question asked for the famous temple in Puri. The evaluator put a cross against the answer and awarded no mark at all though the student wrote 'Jagannath Temple'. The father applied for re-evaluation and took the issue to the NIOS Headquarters at Delhi. 

The student one day received a letter saying that there was 'no change in marks'. Surprisingly, just after two days, the student received another letter that said 'change in marks'. The student was given just pass marks in the subject. How faithful is our evaluation system? This tendency is suppressing creativity of young minds. Burdensome studies and faulty examination methods are causing seasonal deaths of students every year!

With 27% of illiteracy and 55% of the population being dependent on agriculture in our country, we hardly find awareness among parents about significance of education. Fun and Entertainment oriented technology and freedom beyond control are making our students lazy slaves deprived of self-control and vigilant behaviour.

We need commitment of the governments in the very first place for reformation. Allocation of adequate funds and provision of basic necessities in all institutions must be the next initiative. We need common curriculum all over the country to ensure integrity in learning. It must be translated into the respective regional languages also. Let the syllabus include mother tongue, Hindi and English up to graduation.

 Health care, gender equality, human rights, constitutional and legal provisions must be incorporated in the syllabus. Permanent Guidance and Counselling service in every institution, with facilities of aptitude assessment right from upper primary level, is the need of the hour. Since Internet has come into access educational technology must be brought into practice to enrich the teaching-learning process. 

Teachers' proficiency should be strengthened with periodical training inputs. There need not be any written examinations during the primary education level. But there must be activity-based projects for assessment. From the high school level not only written tests there must also be social awareness projects and personality tests in the evaluation process. 

All this will lead to confidence in the system without thoughts of self-destruction. Teachers' voice should represent our collective developmental choice. Students are our precious property. Let us save them. Institutions are sacred abodes. Education is our lighthouse. Let us breathe life into them with attention! 

By Vangeepuram Srinivasa Chary (The writer is the CEO of AARAA Poll Strategies Pvt. Ltd., Hyderabad.)









20 IIT Students and Alumni File Petition, Move SC to Decriminalise Section 377 - The Wire


20 IIT Students and Alumni File Petition, Move SC to Decriminalise Section 377
Challenging the constitutionality of Section 377 of the IPC on several grounds, members of an informal pan-IIT LGBT group describe how the archaic law has resulted in a sense of "shame, loss of self-worth and stigma".


                                      Credit: YouTube


14/MAY/2018
New Delhi: A group of 20 students and alumni of the Indian Institutes of Technology have filed a petition before the Supreme Court against Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which criminalises homosexuality and any form of “unnatural” sex.

The petitioners are all members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community and are a part of Pravritti, an informal pan-IIT LGBT group with more than 350 members. In a release, the group has said that in its petition, it has asked the SC “for a declaration that Section 377 of the IPC violates Articles 14, 15, 16, 19 and 21 of the constitution” and to ensure the right to equality before the law so that there is  no discrimination against anyone for their sexual orientation.
In the release, the 20 petitioners, which includes one 19-year-old, a trans woman and two women, also thank all parties that have been fighting to have Section 377 struck out of the IPC, including the Naz Foundation, Voices against 377, Navtej Singh Johar and others, Akkai Padmasali, Keshav Suri, Arif Jafar and Ashok Row Kavi.

You can read the full text here:
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This petition is being filed by 20 of us – current and past students of the Indian Institutes of Technology on behalf of 350+ LGBT alumni, students, staff and faculty from the IITs who are a part of an informal pan-IIT LGBT group – Pravritti, which has been a safe space for us to interact, connect and network. We are ordinary citizens of this country, and most of us have never been involved in activism. We come together today to file this writ petition in front of the Supreme Court of India challenging the constitutionality of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code on several grounds. We are extremely proud of all our petitioners who have come out to take this stand and tell our country and the court – how this regressive law has violated their fundamental rights, prevented them from living a life of dignity and how it has had first, second and nth order effects in the lives of LGBT individuals. In all humility, despite having worked and studied with the best minds of this country and studying in arguably the best scientific institutions of this country the law has had a very deep impact in our lives; one can only imagine the amount of suffering and pain that S377 has caused and continues to cause in the lives of LGBT individuals across the country.

We, the petitioners, come from diverse backgrounds in terms of religion, age, sex, gender identity. We belong to different parts of India – from Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh to Sambalpur in Odisha to Korba in Chhattisgarh and across the metropolitan cities of Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore to name a few. We are scientists, entrepreneurs, teachers, researchers, business owners and employees in companies. We are children of farmers, teachers, homemakers and government servants. Our youngest petitioner is 19 years old, 90% of us petitioners are below the age group of 30; most of us are recent alumni from various IITs. There are 2 female petitioners and one trans woman.

Section 377 legitimizes the stigma associated to the sexual orientation and its expression – something which is essential, fundamental, intrinsic and innate to an individual. The existence of this law which relegates some of us to second-class citizenship has subjected many of us to mental trauma and illnesses such as clinical depression and anxiety to name a few. The stigma, silence and violence that S377 brings in its wake has led to some of us dealing with suicidal tendencies and some others have attempted suicide in the past. The silence of our legislative wing and its ineffectiveness to even consider debating the need for the existence of this law is shameful to say the least. S377 has also further contributed to the brain drain of several LGBT individuals including some of the petitioners from the IITs across industries. Within India, LGBT alumni including some amongst the petitioners have chosen sectors or companies with progressive policies over those that might have provided better career trajectories or in STEM fields which are instrumental in building a modern and strong India. One of the petitioners was very keen on becoming an IAS officer and never pursued it due to the fear of being discriminated against as a civil servant and the fear of losing the job due to the criminalization of a core part of their identity.

This petition
The petitioners have approached this Hon’ble Court by way of this writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution, inter alia  seeking:
– a declaration of their right to equality before the law and non-discrimination on account of their sexual orientation,
– and for a declaration that Section 377 of the IPC violates Articles 14, 15, 16, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India.
The Petitioners’ life experiences have demonstrated the impact of Section 377 on their lives, and the infringement of their fundamental rights, as follows:
– The criminalisation of sexual orientation and the very identity of Petitioners have resulted in a sense of shame, loss of self-esteem and self-worth, and stigma. As a result, several of the petitioners have had to grapple with depression, self-harm, and other mental health issues, including even suicidal thoughts and attempts, all of which have had a very deleterious effect on their academic and career prospects.
– Lack of access to information on various sexual identities in their formative years and the culture of taboo and shame built around discussions of LGBT identities, in large part because of Section 377, have deprived several of the Petitioners of timely knowledge resulting in a lack of awareness, questioning of their own self-worth and rejection of their innate identity.
– Unlike heterosexual persons, the petitioners have been deprived of opportunities to freely seek love and companionship with partners of their choice, thereby denying them an essential and immutable aspect of their right to life.
– The petitioners have also been denied equal access to the state machinery in instances where they have been victims of crime.
– Several of the petitioners have had to forego better paying employment prospects, including employment under the State and instead choose employers who would be more accepting and accommodating of their identities.
– Many of the petitioners are contemplating settling abroad or have done so, leaving behind their residence of choice at home, only because of the sense of vulnerability and inability to lead a free existence, solely on account of their identity as LGBT.

We are extremely thankful to Naz Foundation, Voices against 377, Navtej Singh Johar & ors., Akkai Padmasali, Keshav Suri, Arif Jafar, Ashok Row Kavi & ors., and all the other NGOs and individuals who have come forward and have been fighting for the repeal of 377. We, by the way of this petition, would like to submit that this is our humble contribution to the community and building of a progressive, strong and tolerant India. We are hopeful that the court would consider the unbearable wrongness of Koushal (2013 judgement) and thereby reaffirm all the rights conferred to every individual of our country.


LGBT Rights: Students From IITs Are Protesting Section 377 Of IPC; File Petition In SC - India Times

LGBT Rights: Students From IITs Are Protesting Section 377 Of IPC; File Petition In SC

 Shweta Sengar Updated: May 15, 2018

A group of 20 students and alumni of the Indian Institutes of Technology have filed a petition before the Supreme Court against section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which criminalises homosexuality and any form of “unnatural sex”.
The students representing a 350+ alumni, students, staff and faculty who identify themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender have filed a writ petition challenging criminalisation of homosexuality. The group is a part of an informal pan-IIT LGBT group - Pravritti, which has been a safe space for the community to interact, connect and network. 

The petition challenges the section on grounds that it violates Articles 14, 15, 16, 19, and 21 of the Constitution.

The articles pertain to fundamental right to freedom of expression, equality and personal liberty.

“We, the petitioners, come from diverse backgrounds in terms of religion, age, sex, gender identity. We belong to different parts of India - from Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh to Sambalpur in Odisha to Korba in Chhattisgarh and across the metropolitan cities of Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore to name a few. We are scientists, entrepreneurs, teachers, researchers, business owners and employees in companies. We are children of farmers, teachers, homemakers and government servants,” reads the petition.

The youngest petitioner is 19 years old and 90 per cent of the petitioners are below the age group of 30. The petitioners also include 2 females and one trans woman.


Thursday, May 10, 2018

How IIT Madras' 'happiness' programme helps students deal with mental pressure - India Today

How IIT Madras' 'happiness' programme helps students deal with mental pressure

IIT Madras has two student-run teams and a ‘happiness’ programme among other measures to help counsel students.
The very coaching and preparation to get into IITs is a nerve-wracking experience and news of student suicides especially when they fail to crack JEE or cannot deal with unnatural, continuous study methods is not new. But what happens to students who crack the exams and become an IIT-ian?
IIT-ians have packed schedules with classes, workshops, presentations, seminars and research projects among other work. Almost everyone is studying or innovating and such an atmosphere can at times become too much for the young college-goers.
India Today Education spoke with Professor MS Sivakumar, Dean (Students) from IIT Madras to know about the various innovate methods taken up by the institute to deal with student stress and suicidal tendencies.
Prof S.M. Sivakumar, Dean (Students), Indian Institute of Technology Madras

MITRA AND SATHI: THE STUDENT-RUN COUNSELING TEAMS

IIT-Madras has two predominantly student-run counseling teams -- Mitra and Sathi -- which help counsel students. While Mitra is for reactive handling of student stress and mental issues, Sathi is for preventive measures.
Reaction means when a student is already going through some emotional trauma; then the Mitra team helps in terms of coping with whatever emotional burden and also takes them to get professional help if they require it.
- Prof SM Sivakumar, Dean (Students), IIT Madras
"As far as Sathi is concerned, it is for preventive work. The team works towards building skills the students would need in terms of coping with certain situations that they might have to tackle. They could be of different nature -- peer pressure they deal with academically or even relationships. They do get tensed about small things as well," the professor adds.
Members of the Sathi team are trained at the grassroots level so that they are ready to help impart the first level counseling before they take the students for professional support provided at IIT Madras.
IIT Madras has two student-run counselling teams which help provide direction to troubled students.

COURSES INTRODUCED TO HELP STUDENTS DEAL WITH LIFE CHANGES AND STRESS

First-year students need to take Life Skills (1 and 2) and a course.
"An important thing that students have to learn is how to get along -- whether it's with people, environment, animals or several other things. Students here undergo a change from being a school student to being an IIT-ian who is looked up to in terms of leadership skills, academic skills etc. So, how to get along and how to find ways by which to get along is the first step in Life Skills 1," says Sivakumar.
Students going from campus to corporate sectors need to learn certain important strategies. In Life Skills 2, IIT Madras deals with such changes that students wish to have, dream of, or are dealing with.
Many times, one of the difficulties they face is dealing with conflict -- it can arise anywhere and everywhere. How do you resolve conflicts? How do you become a leader? What kind of leadership skills are there? Why do you need to learn reason? -- These are some of the things covered in Life Skills 2.
These are seeds sown into the students so that they can build on all the seeds that we have sown.
- Prof SM Sivakumar, Dean (Students), IIT Madras
The Happiness programme carried out in IIT Madras is a brilliant initiative that provides training and information to strengthen the minds of students and develop their personality.
Apart from this, another thing noticed among students was that though they had unparalleled creative skills, but didn't realise it. For this, IIT Madras offers a course on creativity too.
"I felt the need for introducing course on Happiness, called 'Happiness, Habits and Success' so students can understand themselves," says the professor.
Through this course, students can learn a variety of tools available to understand oneself and to understand the need for development through a scientific approach.
The course includes latest psychology research, the impact of positive emotions and gratitude, a guide to meditation, advice on how to avoid distractions, research on sleep and the power of habits, the power of language, and the definition of personal purposes.
The bottom line is -- when a student feels there is no other way by which his or her problem can be resolved and they see themselves corned, that is when they feel stuck and start to abort.
- Prof SM Sivakumar, Dean (Students), IIT Madras
"If we build in them the skill of looking at various possibilities by which they can cope with the particular kind of corner they face, that is empowerment for them," adds the professor.
This capacity to deal with student stress or even suicidal tendencies is exactly what IIT Madras is building through various fronts -- through workshop modes, student-run teams like Saathi or Mitra, interaction with other students, discussion forums -- in order to communicate to students that there are possibilities they haven't explored.
An electronic board outside the office of Dean (Students), IIT Madras, urging students to call helpline if they have any stress-related issues.

HOW TO DEAL WITH PARENTAL PRESSURE WHICH IS A MAJOR CONTRIBUTOR TO STUDENT STRESS

Parents will always want what's best for their children and their definition of 'best' usually consists of a high salary by which their children can live a well-to-do life.
But this means that most of the time they simply aren't aware about how they become the primary contributors to their child's stress which then creates health problems.
"It's not so easy that you will just tell this to parents and it will get done," says IIT Madras' Dean of students.
"Parents have a nagging fear -- 'What if my child is not able to have the comforts of a life that is good?' And it is always attached to the profession that they take up. They do not know that there are certain talents, skills and dispositions that one needs to have and build so that they can go into a particular profession," Sivakumar adds.
He says that parents find themselves in a mess because they keep saying "study, study, study". But all they want is for their child to do something meaningful while moving on in life.
Surprisingly, the professor says that parents need to focus on building the strengths if their children instead of focusing on the subjects they aren't good at.
If my child got 95 in maths and 50 in chemistry, I should put my child in a tuition class for maths because building a strength is what should be done.
- Prof SM Sivakumar, Dean (Students), IIT Madras
Parental pressure is a major contributor to student stress.

COUNSELLING AND INTERACTION SESSIONS WITH PARENTS

At IIT Madras, a programme is held which school students along with their parents are invited to attend. Here, the parents are shown how their child really is. They are then told how they can nurture certain creative aspects of the kids.
I am not saying that don't do other things. But if you start to nurture and use language powerfully, the world will be a different place. We will be flooded with people who are very self-confident and who can do things they love to do.
- Prof SM Sivakumar, Dean (Students), IIT Madras
"Today one of the biggest difficulties we face is parents push their kids into doing something. Many parents of that sort come. I sit with them and tell them oh there's a connection!"
He tells us about an incident where he met a metallurgy student of IIT Madras who said that he hated metallurgy as there was no mathematics there.
"So I sat down with him and showed where all mathematics is there and how beautifully it is intertwined with materials," the professor says.
"That was the end of his demotivated period. Now he sees mathematics in many different ways when he goes to his material course."
Professor Sivakumar says that a certain mindset change needs to happen which can allow child and parent see each other's points of view.

He explains:

So it's a way that the shift has to occur so it is possible for both the parent and the child to be able to understand. In fact, I did this exercise along with the parent so that they can understand where the problem is.
Prof S.M. Sivakumar, Dean (Students), IIT Madras, talking to students

PROFESSIONAL COUNSELLING UNITS AT IIT MADRAS

IIT Madras also has professional counselling units and two professional counselling providers. They use several means to touch students-it could be through online chat, or face to face counselling.
When the counsellor looks at a student we have pulled out of the brink, the reason seems to be a very simple reason, says Sivakumar.

The professor explains how we are blinded by stress:

If you take a coin and put it in front of your eyes, everything else disappear, only the coin is visible. A very similar thing happens to them-the moment they have a little bit more time, they come out of this rut.
"So, how do we bring in that particular time that they need to have -- this is what we work on," he adds.
Professional counsellors are present in IIT Madras who help students where Sathi and Mitra fail

HOW IIT MADRAS HELPS STUDENTS DEVELOP A 'GROWTH MINDSET'

Life will always have one challenge or another, each of which can help us learn various life skills. The moment we get stuck after failing to get to our goals via one path, our life seems to stop.
Students need to avoid getting stuck after a failure and develop a 'growth mindset' that can help them keep moving on in life without getting sucked into a depressive state.
"Motivation is about what you want to do, what you want to be, what you want to have-and these are not static, these are dynamic," Professor Sivakumar explains.

The concept of 'growth mindset' as explained by the Dean:

We need to understand that there are several ways that we can achieve our goals. There is no one single path that takes you to the goal -- understanding this itself will help enable you to see other ways to achieve your goals and therefore not get de-motivated. I call this the 'growth mindset'.
Professor MS Sivakumar has some amazing advice for students which most youngsters tend to forget:
"We are not here to do a sprinting. It is a long life. Don't worry! If you are 20, you have around 70 more years that you can live happily."

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Suicides among Indian students: An epidemic - HEALTH ISSUES INDIA.COM

Suicides among Indian students: An epidemic

Suicides concept [123RF]
On April 19, seventeen-year-old Kadali Shanmukha was found dead. He had hanged himself from a ceiling fan in his hostel room.
The previous day, Bheem Singh had also been found dead. He, too, had hanged himself from a ceiling fan in his hostel room.
What links the two suicides, aside from the method, is the fact that Shanmukha and Singh were both students. Shanmukha, aged just seventeen, was a senior intermediate student at the Bhashyam Junior College in Kakinada. Singh was a third-year PhD student at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Kanpur.
The two cases are one of several involving Indian students taking their own lives in recent weeks. In fact, more than one student commits suicide in the country every hour. This epidemic of mental health crises among India’s student population – projected to become the biggest in the world by 2025 – is one the country’s education system is ill-prepared to address, reports suggest.

Mental health in India

The Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, where Singh was a student before taking his own life.
Mental illness is a significant public health challenge in India. The World Health Organization (WHO) identifies 56 million people as suffering from depression and 38 million as suffering from anxiety disorders. In 2014, India accounted for seventeen percent of the world’s suicides.
Both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ram Nath Kovind have spoken out on the issue. “Depression can be overcome. We all can play a role in helping those suffering from depression overcome it,”Modi told the nation in a Mann Ki Bhat last year.
President Kovind, meanwhile, has drawn attention to the lack of mental healthcare As many as ninety percent of those who suffer from mental health conditions in India do not receive treatment. Kovind warned of a mental health epidemic in years to come if the situation does not improve.
Both leaders have identified the stigma surrounding mental health conditions as a major barrier to those who need treatment availing it. While awareness and attitudes are improving, those with mental health conditions in India continue to face prejudice and stigma.
An illuminating survey by the Live Love Laugh Foundation (LLLF) found many Indians hold derogatory attitudes towards those with mental health conditions. For example, sixty percent of respondents agreed with the statement ‘mentally unhealthy people should have their own groups – healthy people need not be contaminated by them.’ When asked about their feelings towards the mentally ill, 76 percent of respondents said they felt sympathetic. However, a sizeable percentage admitted to feelings of disgust, hatred and apathy.

Student suicides

“While there is growing awareness of mental health issues in India,”Manipal University professor Nikhil Govind told Times Higher Education last year, “there is less awareness of the issues of university students.” This, combined with the expense of mental healthcare, means “almost nowhere in India is there a serious endeavour to mitigate this.”
The issues facing students in India are diverse. They include not only mental health conditions such as depression but issues among friendship circles, within families, and with drug and alcohol addictions. Professor Govind suggests university students, many of whom are living away from home for the first time, are ill-equipped to deal with these issues alone.
This is exacerbated by the widespread unavailability of mental healthcare, particularly from qualified therapists. As Govind points out, “students need therapists with the right, non-moralistic and truly empathetic sensibility”. Instead, he says, what they often get are “complete platitudes – about ‘getting over it’, ‘it’s a phase’, ‘don’t you want your parents to be proud of you?’, ‘buck up’ etc”.

Academic pressure

Another factor which may be pushing so many students to the brink is academic pressure. Wired article notes many teenagers face significant pressure to gain admission to prestigious academic institutions such as IITs. Failure to do so can leave students with a sense of failure, which can prove so devastating for some they take their own lives.
The case of Kadali Shanmukha spotlights a major concern: parental pressure. The student wrote “Sorry Mom, I can’t study here”. He had reportedly been berated by his parents after failing mathematics exams. A 2015 study said about two thirds of high school students in India feel parental pressure to excel academically. It identified a positive correlation between exam-related anxiety and pressure from a student’s family.
There is rarely a single cause of suicide and no one is to blame. However, the onus is upon India’s education system to care for its students’ woes and avert further deaths. Many lack the facilities, resources and personnel to do this. Until this changes, more lives will – needlessly – be lost.
Kerean Watts is an assistant project manager for Hyderus Cyf and has been a featured writer for Health Issues India since 2016. His areas of study include politics, international relations and global development. He is based in South Wales.