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Saturday, July 25, 2015

IIT-Bombay to get more proactive on counselling students Indian Express

To discuss with experts structure of a counselling centre an institute like IIT-B needs for its 9,000-odd students.

Written by Mihika Basu | Mumbai | Published:July 24, 2015 1:49 am

Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay.

To move from a ‘mostly reactive’ to more proactive counselling services for its students, the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay will soon consult experts to give shape to a counselling centre best suited for an institute like IIT that has students from diverse backgrounds. The institute saw a suicide in May this year when a chemical engineering student ended his life. 
Another student had committed suicide last year.

The institute currently has two counsellors, besides a person who looks at preventive mental health scenarios through lectures, talks and relaxation camps for students.

According to available information, one of the counsellors usually has 130 to 150 students visiting every month. Some are first-time visitors, and several among them do not have to come back for a second visit. There are some repeat visits, and then there are cases where the issue has been resolved and the student makes one last visit. The other counselor is learnt to have handled around 130 cases last year.

Prof Soumyo Mukherji, Dean of Students Affairs, said the institute would soon hire one more counselor.

The aim is to more effectively address problems affecting
students, which could range from depression and performance anxiety to issues faced while settling in a competitive environment.

“While our counselling services are mostly reactive at present, the idea is to extend them to make them more pro-active. For that, we need to hire more people and we will soon hire one more counselor. Further, we are going to have a meeting with renowned psychiatrist and professor Dr Vikram Patel, along with other experts, psychologists and psychiatrists on the structure and specific requirements of a counselling centre for an institute like IIT-Bombay, which has a student strength of 9,000 from across the country,” said Professor Mukherji.

The body of 21-year-old Jitesh Sharma was found on the terrace of IIT-B’s hostel number 15B in May this year. According to the police, the suicide note said Sharma was worried about the results of his exams and that he feared he might not get a good placement.

The family of another IIT-B student, who died last year after a fall from the sixth-floor balcony of another hostel on the campus, had said he was undergoing treatment for depression.

Among other initiatives, the institute also started a Facebook page, “ICare IITB: counselling and mental health”, earlier this year where both students and faculty members can share their views and problems.

According to officials, it is an attempt to reach out to the students and address their stress, anger and related issues in a friendly, unconventional and non-intimidating way.

- See more at:

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Another IIT aspirant kills self in coaching hub Kota - Business Standard

Press Trust of India  |  Kota (Raj)  July 20, 2015 Last Updated at 18:42 IST

An 18-year-old youth, who was taking coaching classes for IIT entrance test, allegedly hanged himself in his hostel room here, days after NCRB released data saying that 45 students committed suicide last year in this coaching hub. 

Avinash Singh, a resident of Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh, committed suicide at his hostel room in Rajiv Gandhi Nagar colony of Jawaharnagar police station area late last night, Sub Inspector Suraj Singh said.

Avinash's body was found this morning and has been sent to mortuary of Maharao Bhim Singh (MBS) hospital for post mortem examination.

His parents have been informed, the officer said, adding that the boy apparently took the step under stress of studies.

According to data released by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) on Saturday, Kota has registered 100 suicide cases in 2014 and 45 of them were coaching students.

The report mentions the stress of studies and failure in examination among the key causes of suicide among coaching students in Kota.

Over 1.50 lakhs students are taking coaching in various coaching institutes in Kota the city that has made name as coaching hub of the country.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Letters: Don't pick on the IITs - Business Standard

Business Standard  |  New Delhi  July 19, 2015 Last Updated at 22:03 IST

This refers to Anjuli Bhargava's column, "Indian Institutes of Trouble" (July 16). Let us start with the facts: About 50 per cent of the B Tech curriculum at the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) consists of engineering courses. The rest comprises maths, science (that is not engineering, please), humanities and the liberal arts, management and diverse electives that you need to take to complete your degree. Next, how many of those who study BA in history, B Com or BSc in zoology actually pursue them later? So let us stop picking on B Tech graduates - and that too from the IITs - as easy targets.

On the issue of suicides, in the absence of nation-wide figures (college-wise, year-wise), let us not jump to conclusions based on statistics put out by TV channels. It is unfortunate that we have not developed community awareness on dealing with psychological lows, which are common at that age. Asking students to leave the IIT is a good step, rather than letting them succumb to the pressure. Go to Massachusetts Institute of Technology or Stanford University - the situation is the same. As for putting pressure on 14-15-year-olds to prepare for the IIT joint entrance examination, the entire society is to blame.

All the IIT directors have categorically stated that the IIT system is not designed or aligned to the methodology of QS World University Rankings. As long as the IITs are free of interference from the Executive, and only have pacts on performance with the Ministry of Human Resource Development, they will do all it takes to stand alongside the best in the world.

'Collapse' is a big word. As long as we stem the mushrooming of IITs, the current ones would not implode in quality. Let us focus on elementary and higher education, which are actually on the verge of a collapse.

Srikant Mallela Hyderabad

Letters can be mailed, faxed or e-mailed to:
The Editor, Business Standard
Nehru House, 4 Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg
New Delhi 110 002
Fax: (011) 23720201
All letters must have a postal address and telephone number

IIT Roorkee: Expelled Student Attempts Suicide, Admitted To Hospital - Focus News

By Focus News Bureau - Jul 19, 2015 431 

An expelled student from IIT-Rookee who attempted suicide has been admitted to hospital.

According to doctors, Abhisek Mandal, who is a West Bengal resident attempted suicide by starving, however, his condition is stable now.

The incident happened took place after three days of  IIT-Roorkee’s decision to allow expelled students for re-examination following Uttarakhand High Court’s order.

Earlier on July 8, the senate took its decision and expelled students who scored lower than five cumulative grade point average (CGPA).

“Seventy three students who scored lower than five cumulative grade point average (CGPA) in the second semester were expelled from the institute as per a decision of the senate consisting of over 100 professors,” IIT Roorkee director Pradipta Bannerjee said.

A rule mandating expulsion of students who scored less than five CGPA for two consecutive semesters was framed last year by the institute to ensure quality education on the campus.
When 73 students were found scoring less than five CGPA in their second semester exam, they were issued expulsion notices by the institute.

In response to the notices, the students and their parents approached the IIT authorities seeking reconsideration of the decision. However, the senate, after a marathon discussion on the issue which went late into the night on Wednesday, decided to expel them, Bannerjee said.

IIT Roorkee sticks to expulsion call - TNN

Shivani Saxena, TNN | Jul 10, 2015, 10.07PM IST

DEHRADUN: A day after IIT Roorkee expelled 73 students for under-performing, the institute called a meeting of senior officials including the director and heads of departments, to review the expulsion of the students. 

The meeting, which went on till 8 in the evening, eventually decided that there would be no change in the decision taken by the academic senate which had met on Wednesday and had decided to expel all the 73 students. 

"After a lot of deliberations and analysis, we decided to go ahead with the senate's decision on the expulsion. There would be no change in it," said Prashant Garg, registrar, IIT Roorkee.
Meanwhile, some of the affected students said that they were considering approaching the high court against the institute's decision. "None of us knew that if we scored less than 5 CGPA, we would be expelled. It was a big shock when we read the notice issued in this regard. We contacted many professors, but none of them were also aware about this rule, "claimed one of the students who scored a CGPA of 4.75 in the first two semesters, and who was considering a legal option. 

However, a senior professor at the institute said that the rules are clearly mentioned in the rule book. "It is not like the rules of the match have been changed after the match started. That would have been an unfair thing. The expulsion might be reconsidered and the decision might be revised for some on humanitarian grounds, but at the end of the day, a rule is a rule." 

Parents when contacted did not speak much the issue and said they were only worried about their children who they hoped would not take any drastic step like suicide if the decision is not revised.

"A student who got through IIT from the general category quota, after a year-long rigorous preparation can't be academically that bad. It is already too late for enrolments in other colleges. These students should be given a second opportunity" said a worried parent, who had come from Jaipur to be with his son.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Anjuli Bhargava: Indian Institutes of Technology or Trouble? - Business Standard

Are teachers, parents, govts, academicians and society trying to break down a 65-year old institution?

July 15, 2015 Last Updated at 21:48 IST

As one reads about the plight of students who make it to the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT), those who fail to do so and those who make it through the system once in, one can't help but wonder whether this was what was intended.

Let me start with one big question: are the IITs actually for training and producing engineers? Most IIT-ians I know - and this is a fair number - are not pursuing engineering. They are bankers, consultants, angel investors, senior level executives or even heads of non-governmental organisations. I don't know a single civil, mechanical or electrical engineer for that matter. The engineers India produces are primarily from the regional engineering colleges. So if the idea is to churn out good, capable managers, do they really need an IIT-education?

A few weeks ago, I was following the story on an IIT Mumbai student who took his own life, unable to cope with the stress of the system. Television channels put out statistics that revealed that suicide rates among IIT students are quite high - again something unheard of in the 1980s and 1990s.

Then last week, IIT Roorkee identified and asked 73 students who could not cope with the curriculum or were evidently disinterested in it (one student quit to join acting classes) to leave. Without going into the rights and wrongs of the issue, I presume if the institute took such a drastic decision it must have had valid reasons.

I know a few students who failed the dreaded Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) and some who made it. And they have an important point to make. The moment a child shows some interest or aptitude in the sciences, parents start talking of the JEE examination at home. Teachers add to the decibel level. Before the student fully realises what he is signing on for - or whether he actually wants a career in engineering at all - he is brain-washed into enrolling for the classes. Others around you seem to be in the same boat, so peer pressure builds up. It's a fait accompli for those demonstrating aptitude in math and science. Career choices are made ridiculously early.

Students at ages 14-15 start attending these classes. They are in a sort of pressure cooker situation for at least four years before they actually take the test. Thankfully, several - probably not cut out for it anyway - fall by the wayside.

But some who finally do make it find it a bit of an anti climax. Exhausted or burnt out, many begin to question whether this is what they wanted in the first place. Older and wiser, some begin to question why engineering. Yet the pressure of performance - and the IIT curriculum - continues to build. Semesters seem to merge into one another and one examination follows the next.

Far too many crack under the pressure. As one student I know put it "you are on a treadmill that refuses to stop" but there's no time to do anything about it.

Then there are those who are disappointed with what they find once in. A post by a former student who passed out in 2014 talks of the "academic void" his IIT education left in him. He found himself surrounded by people who were more interested in the "job" and the "package" post an IIT stint rather than evolving into a better professional. He says that he enjoyed everything about being at an IIT except the academics.

Academic standards at almost all the IITs have dropped steadily through the years (IITs have been slipping in QS World University Rankings every year). So if Pradipta Banerji, director of IIT Roorkee, managed to cull out the students who failed to cope or were not interested in learning, we need someone across the IIT system to cull out those who failed to teach or were not interested in teaching.

Instead of quibbling with student bodies, Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani should look at some of these real problems plaguing the IITs and save this 65-year old institution from virtual collapse.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

5 deaths in one month, Kota's IIT coaching institutes hit by suicide scandal - The Telegraph

5 deaths in one month, Kota's IIT coaching institutes hit by suicide scandal

Wednesday, 01 July 2015 11:08 AM

Jaipur: Rohit Singh hanged himself in his bedroom. That was on Saturday. The young man was only 18.

On June 8, Sarthak Yadav killed himself too.

Barely four days earlier, Nibha Tiwari had decided she couldn't stand it any more.

A coaching institute in Kota.

All three - Rohit, Sarthak and Nibha - had something in common. They were young, looked forward to a bright career, either as an IIT graduate or a doctor, and came to what is described as the country's coaching capital, Kota.

The Rajasthan city, some 255km from Jaipur, boasts the highest number of IIT selections every year and takes pride in its "Kota module" of updated study material and rigorous coaching.

Some 10,000 aspirants have been called for counselling this year. But five suicides this month have turned the lens on something most coaching centres, and some parents too, seem to have forgotten in the rush for success: trained counsellors to hear out the students when the going gets tough.

Tough is an understatement: the chances of success work out to something like one in 140.

According to police records, at least 11 students have committed suicide in Kota since January this year. In 2014, the number was 14, while 26 suicides were reported the year before.

Parents blame it on stress, the punishing schedule of long hours of study and preparatory exams. They also complain of lack of regular monitoring of how the students were, physically and mentally, when their tuition grades start falling.

The coaching institutes say stress is inevitable when 14 lakh students, for instance, decide to vie for 10,000 IIT seats. "Earlier, we used to hear one or two cases. Now the number of suicide cases are rising, but with so many students competing for one of the toughest tests, these numbers are minuscule," Pramod Bansal, director of Bansal Classes, told The Telegraph.

Stress, say counsellors, is indeed understandable, especially when these coaching institutes charge anything between Rs 70,000 and Rs 1.5 lakh every year from students.

What was not understandable is they don't have a system of counselling, especially before enrolling students.

True, conceded Bansal. "We don't counsel students before we take them in," he admitted. "But our doctors monitor a student who is not eating, or sleeping well or is in a kind of depression."

According to figures available, around 1.5 lakh aspiring engineers and doctors come to Kota every year, putting up in hostels, renting houses or staying as paying guests. Their day starts early: by 6am, they head to coaching centres. After tuitions, it's time for regular school or college. They don't get free before 8 in the evening. After dinner, it's study time again till they finally hit the bed.

They are also told not to sleep for over six hours. "The routine is tough, but then IIT seats are limited and time is at a premium," said Amit Yadav, a student from Jaipur.

Time was of premium too for Nibha, a girl from Jharkhand, who killed herself on June 4. A day later, the police found the bodies of Kuldeep Rastogi, of Badaun, Uttar Pradesh, and his daughter Dipanshi, 18.

Kuldeep, 48, committed suicide after killing his daughter in a hotel room. In a purported suicide note, he said he was taking the extreme step because of his poor financial condition. Counsellors say the tuition fee of the coaching institute where his daughter wanted to get enrolled was probably too high for them.

Next it was Sarthak from Saharanpur, also from Uttar Pradesh, and Ashwini Kumar from Bihar. Rohit's suicide, on June 27, was the latest.

M.L. Agarwal, a psychiatrist, said a helpline he started four years ago gets at least a 1,000 calls a year from students suffering from extreme stress.

Counsellors say the first "setback" the students in Kota suffer is when they compete with toppers from across the country and see their coaching class grades fall in comparison. "It is then that frustration anxiety sets in," Agarwal said.