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Friday, September 30, 2016

58 Suicides In Last Five Years, What Is So Wrong With Kota Dream? - India Times

58 Suicides In Last Five Years, What Is So Wrong With Kota Dream?

September 28, 2016

Giving up on her dream to become a doctor, another student ended her life, on Tuesday, in Rajasthan's Kota, known for coaching institutes competitive examinations.

The victim, identified as Sneha Suman (17), a native of Khagariya, Bihar, is among the twelve young people who chose to end their lives. Earlier, in April, 17-year-old Kriti Tripathi had committed suicide in her hostel room. Before her, ten other students did so.

Reportedly, 58 students have killed themselves in various hostels in Kota in last five years.

The dreams of becoming next Sunder Pichai, Satya Nadella and Naresh Trehan bring over 80,000 children to Kota every year. They become part of this USD 45 million coaching industry being run in this city of Rajasthan.

But what are the main reasons behind forcing youngsters, taking such an extreme step?

Parents' Expectations
There is a possibility that neither Kriti nor Sneha, who committed suicide were asked whether they wanted to become engineer and doctor respectively.
Parents generally force their children to take up professions including engineering and medical, considered to be job oriented.


They put pressure on their children to become engineers or doctors. Majority of the fault also lies with system in India where people aren't considered successfull, if they don't end up becoming engineers, doctors or bureaucrats.

No Screening Test
Kota has over 130 institutes, which give coaching for various exams. While these  institutes sell dreams, filling their coffers with a lots of money, they don't test a student's aptitude.


The students, some interested and majority forced by their parents end up paying huge amount of money for reluctantly studying the science subjects.

“If we don’t admit them, some other coaching institute will pick them up. A second reason for not having a screening process is that no parent likes to hear that his/her child won’t make it to the IITs. They will push for it and say ‘Let him give it a shot, at worst one year will get wasted’," Pramod Maheshwari, who co-founded coaching institute Career Point, told The Quint after Kriti's suicide in April.

Huge investments and pressure of success
In order to make their wards successful, parents invest a considerable amount of money. On an average, a family roughly spends Rs 6 lakh per year for coaching in Kota. The average tuition free across the institutes being run in Kota is about Rs 2, 13, 000 along with an average of Rs 3.36 lakh as hostel fee and Rs 60,000 as fee for dummy school.

The Hindu

Most of the families who send their children to Kota are from middle class background and for them, paying such a huge amount annually is a daunting task. The student also feels this pressure.

Barren childhood and dummy schools
Majority of the students in Kota arrive in this city at a tender age of 12 or 13. Their parents get them enrolled in dummy schools, which they never attend. It means that when children of their age learn other things in life, they grapple with calculus and relative velocity for world's most competitive examination. They never experience a childhood, which teaches how to get up after you fall.


By the time they reach 12th standard and get ready for their first litmus test in form of IIT-JEE or AIPMT, their parents  end up spending Rs 15-20 lakh over five or six years. Many of these families take loans and if the student feels that his failure wouldn't only sink his future, but also of his parents and siblings, he decides to end his or her life. 

Big Image Courtesy:Reuters

Teen Medical Course Aspirant Commits Suicide in Kota - NDTV

Teen Medical Course Aspirant Commits Suicide in Kota

All India | Written by Harsha Kumari Singh | Updated: September 29, 2016 01:33 IST

  1. 16-year-old Sneha Suman from Bihar was prepping for medical studies
  2. She was the 8th student to commit suicide this year in Kota
  3. 17 students had committed suicide in 2015

A 16-year-old girl from Bihar committed suicide in Kota, where she was prepping for medical entrance exams. Sneha Suman, who was from Bihar's Khagaria district, hanged herself in her hostel room late on Monday  night.

The police say while she left no suicide note, the competition for the medical and IIT seats create a lot of stress among students which often leads to suicides.

Sneha was the eighth student to commit suicide in Kota this year.

Last year, 17 students being coached for various entrance exams in Kota had committed suicide. Later, guidelines were issued to coaching institutes to check such deaths.

Thousands of students come to Kota to prepare for competitive exams.

Kota, nearly 250 km from Jaipur, accommodates a range of coaching institutes to prepare students for the IIT and medical entrance exams.

Nearly 11 lakh students sit for the IIT entrance every year. Of these, two lakh qualify the mains and only 10,000 are eventually accepted by the IITs.

The district administration and the area's senior administrative official, collector Ravi Kumar Surpur, have taken a number of measures to address the issue of student suicides.

Earlier this year, Mr Surpur had sent a letter to the parents of the 1.5 lakh students enrolled for coaching in Kota, urging them "not to force their expectations and dreams on their children".

Monday, September 12, 2016

Suicide: Depression major cause, women attempt more than men - Deccan Herald

New Delhi, Sep 10, 2016, PTI

The number of women attempting suicide in the country is nearly thrice that of men, while people in the age-group of 15-30 are the most vulnerable section of the society who claim their lives, experts claim.

According to the Indian Psychiatric Society, however, only 10-15 per cent of suicidal bids are "impulsive" and the rest can be prevented through timely intervention and appropriate psycho-social therapy.

The global community today joins in observing the World Suicide Prevention Day to raise awareness about its prevention, a major cause of death worldwide.

According to WHO, 800,000 people lose their life to suicide each year –- one person every 40 seconds, and up to 25 times as many make a suicide attempt again.

"In India, women attempt more suicide than men, on an average nearly 2.5-3 times. But nearly three times men as against women are ending their lives. Only 10-15 per cent cases are impulsive attempts, meaning a person attempts suicide himself or herself.

"In the rest, the person shows signs that he or she may attempt it, like 'my life is not worth living', which is the most common expression. And, if people around them can sense and intervene in time, then such cases can be prevented," Indian Psychiatric Society President Dr G Prasad Rao told PTI.

The Society, founded in 1947, has been creating awareness about its causes and prevention. It will hold programmes and athletic run tomorrow to mark the day.

Rao says "farmer, student and dowry-related suicides are the most common".

"It's a bio-psychosocial disorder and depression is the major cause that leads to death by suicide, followed by mental anxiety and personality disorders like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder," he says.

Rao says though suicide is preventable through timely intervention and psychosocial therapy, many people fail to assess the situation when someone may be suicidal and how to respond to it.

According to a study carried out recently by Delhi-based Cosmos Institute of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences (CIMBS), 71 per cent of people were not aware as to what to do when someone around them showed suicidal tendencies.

The study, released to mark the World Suicide Prevention Day, consisted of two parts -- a public survey to gauge awareness, perception and impact of suicide in general public, and a clinical research of data to assess various psychological trends associated with suicidal behaviour.

"67 per cent of people with suicidal behaviour had an underlying major depressive disorder, 55 per cent had alcohol or other addictions, 26 per cent had personality disorders, 12 per cent had bipolar affective disorder, 7 per cent had schizophrenia while 2 per cent had eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia," it said.

The CIMBS study included about 500 participants, falling in the age group of 18-62 years, in the general public category from the Delhi-NCR region. Of this, 88 per cent aged between 18 and 35. And, men and women respondent were 52 per cent and 48 per cent, respectively.

"55 per cent people knew someone in their personal, social or professional circle who had lost their life to suicide, while 61 per cent people knew someone in their personal, social or professional circle who had attempted suicide, but managed to survive," it says.

53 per cent of respondents felt that they were "personally impacted" by such incidents.

The study also analysed 1,000 clinical cases from January- August to analyse the psychological trends in people who showed suicidal behaviour.

In 75 per cent of suicides, the victims aged less than 35, while in case of attempted suicides, 34 per cent were young adults (19-24 years).

In those showing suicidal behaviours, young adults (24-35 years) comprised 42 per cent, followed by those in the group of 35-49 years (33 per cent). Teenagers in the bracket of 13-19 years formed 17 per cent of the clinical cases analysed, while those over 50 years composed 8 per cent.

Also, unemployed people (32 per cent) showed most suicidal tendencies, followed by students (26 per cent) and professionals (22 per cent), the study claimed.

Rao also adds that students are attempting suicides because of examination performance worries, life stress or other factors.

Kota in Rajasthan, considered a major coaching hub for competition examinations like IIT-JEE, has reported many suicide cases over last few years.

According to National Crime Records Bureau figures, in 2014, as many as 1,31,666 people committed suicide and 15 suicides took place every hour that year.

Maximum suicides in 2014 were reported in Maharashtra (16,307) followed by Tamil Nadu (16,122) and West Bengal (14,310), accounting for 12.4 per cent, 12.2 per cent and 10.9 per cent, respectively, of the total suicides reported in the country.

Puducherry reported the highest rate of suicides (40.4) followed by Sikkim (38.4), Andman and Nicobar Islands (28.9) and Telangana (26.5) that year, according to NCRB data.

The suicide rate in cities (12.2 per cent) was higher as compared to all-India suicide rate (10.6 per cent).

Rao says that though youths ageing between 15 and 30 are most vulnerable, the suicidal tendencies peak in old age too (55-70).

"It is mainly because of loneliness and lack of family or societal support system that these people attempt to take their lives or end up killing themselves. It is important to know that most of suicide cases are preventable only if timely intervention can be made, and the stigma of mental health illness can be removed," he said.

The Indian Psychiatric Society's president says the government in its new mental healthcare bill mentions about "decriminalising" suicides, and it's a welcome step

Sunday, September 11, 2016

YourDost, WittyFeed join hands for ‘World Suicide Prevention Day’ - Financial Express

WittyFeed, world’s 2nd largest viral content company has partnered with YourDost to be the digital partner of #StopSuicide campaign for World Suicide Prevention Day followed on 10th September.

New Delhi | Updated: September 8, 2016 5:04 PM

With This Collective Collaboration, Wittyfeed Will Share The Videos And Other Content Captured During The Campaign On Their Social Media Platforms, Including Facebook. The Core Idea Is To Spread The Simple Message Of Suicide #Notanoption Around The Globe.

WittyFeed, world’s 2nd largest viral content company has partnered with YourDost to be the digital partner of #StopSuicide campaign for  World Suicide Prevention Day followed on 10th September. With this collective collaboration, WittyFeed will share the videos and other content captured during the campaign on their social media platforms, including Facebook. The core idea is to spread the simple message of Suicide #NotAnOption around the globe.

YourDOST is an online platform for people with emotional and mental issues to speak with qualified professionals in an anonymous manner. The seeds for YourDOST were laid when co-founder Richa Singh tragically lost a hostel mate to suicide, at IIT Guwahati.

This campaign aims to reach users on Social Media. “The purpose of this campaign is threefold – firstly the message itself, which is to let people know that, suicide, is not an option. 

Second is to educate people about why suicides happen and how to nip suicidal thoughts in the bud. 

The third objective is to promote NGOs who provide suicide helplines for anyone who is or knows someone who’s having suicidal thoughts,” say co-founder Puneet Manuja.

On the partnership Co-founder & CEO of Wittyfeed, Vinay Singhal said “We feel very privileged to be associated with such a noble campaign. Every life is precious, and I personally believe that giving up is not a solution, fight back very hurdles of life and come out with flying colors.  I am very humbled that WittyFeed is standing for an amazing campaign which will create awareness among the masses and help in reducing the number of suicides.”

The interesting story of our educational system | Adhitya Iyer - TEDx Talks - You Tube

The interesting story of our educational system | Adhitya Iyer | TEDxCRCE

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Girl IIT Dumped But MIT Picked Shows What’s Wrong With Our Education System - Scoop Whoop

Aug 30, 2016 at 18:37

A batchmate in college once sheepishly admitted he hadn't really been planning on attending the same college as the rest of us. He said he'd gotten into an IIT, but couldn't go to the prestigious institute due to a simple factor: he hadn't scored adequate marks in his class 12 examinations. 

We never verified how true his claims were, but his case came to mind while reading of the case of 17-year-old Malvika Raj Joshi from Mumbai. 

Malvika Raj Joshi|Source: Twitter/@HuffPostIndia

She couldn't go to IIT despite being a three-time medal winner (two silver and a bronze) at the Programming Olympiad. 

Someone who was obviously pretty smart by world standards and perhaps able to clear the IIT-JEE (considered one of the toughest entrance exams to any institute) couldn't get admission because she didn't have a class 10 & 12 certificate.

So despite the world being able to acknowledge her talent and her proving it three times, the Indian system couldn't find a spot for her in its premier engineering institute because she didn't have an endorsement from another educational institute. 

The only place she got admission was the private Chennai Mathematical Institute, whose Dean of Studies had no doubts about her ability. He would, given he'd helped her crack the exam thrice.   

"It is a credit to MIT's flexibility that they can offer admission to a student who demonstrates excellent intellectual potential despite having no formal high school credentials," Madhavan Mukund told PTI.

It was indeed MIT's flexibility that allowed them to get one of India's bright minds to go to the US. It is the IIT's inflexibility on the same matter that let them lose out on her and instead fill the seat with a student, who while having qualified through its stringent entrance examination, may well be a product of the multi-crore coaching industry that has also driven students to suicide. That industry has resulted in six suicides in IIT coaching hub Kota alone this year. It's also a system that teaches you to crack an exam, but doesn't prepare you for what you'll learn in that institute. 

Source: Reuters 
After Joshi's case, we could see a minister/official offer her a seat at IIT by throwing out the rule book. But that's because MIT has already shown faith in her. Our education system will remain blind to such students for the foreseeable future if it comes without the endorsement of exam marks and certificates. 

Joshi isn't even the first time the Indian educational system ignored intelligence over marks and ended up regretting it.

There was once a student who failed in all subjects in his exams as he concentrated on just one. He dropped out of college, wasn't seen amounting to much in his own hometown and became famous only after a foreign university accepted him. His work has since made him a legend. 

Srinivasa Ramanujam|Source: Twitter/@isfo_in

The story of the now legendary mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan only shows that while we value examination marks, it can never have a higher value than actual intelligence in a field. By losing Joshi, it's the Indian educational system's loss and tragically, it might not even realise it. Until of course it decides to claim her as its own for any future accomplishments. 

(Feature image source: Twitter/@htTweets)

Stop putting pressure on your children to get high marks or that prized seat in a premier institution - First Post

Janaki Murali  Aug 31, 2016 13:01 IST

When Bengaluru teenager MK Puujitha ran away from home last week she hit national headlines for the massive hunt that was launched by her family and friends. The father was from Accenture and his employers, colleagues, family and friends did not stop with just filing a missing complaint with the police. They went to the press, turned to social media with posts on Facebook, Whatsapp, LinkedIn and even set up a website

These posts went viral and were shared by friends and strangers alike, and it was finally through a Whatsapp alert that the family got to know of the whereabouts of the missing girl after four worrying days. With the help of the railway police they found the teenager in Hubballi on Sunday.

Puujitha ran away when she got 18 out of 30 marks in her Maths paper and panicked after the teacher asked her to get her parents' signature on her answer script. She was studying in Class 8 of the National Public School. She was only 13 years old. What was fortunate was that the teenager did not get into the wrong hands and returned safe to her family. She had only Rs 600 on her and kept to railway stations and even sold a painting and taught English grammar to some students to earn money.

But many other school children facing similar academic pressures at school and at home are not so lucky.

The Deccan Chronicle reported recently of a 17-year-old IIT aspirant, who was studying at a coaching institute in Kota who jumped to her death as she was disappointed with her scores in IIT-JEE mains. The newspaper said that this was the fifth case of student suicides from coaching centres in Kota, the hub for various engineering and medical entrance examinations this year. Last year there were 18 such student suicides.

Representational image. AFP

Come exam time, and every town and city in the country report suicides due to failure in academics or low marks at school or college. Unfortunately, for our young adults in India, academic excellence has always been linked to high marks in their tests. 

Parents, schools and their peers place a high value on their academic performances, and anything below 90 percentile is considered mediocre. For, only a high aggregate total fetches them a seat in the premier professional colleges in the country or abroad. Often, families hopes rest on their young shoulders. With such high expectations placed on them to perform or else, students are prone to depression at a very young age. After government jobs, banking of the 70s and 80s, its engineering and medicine which are seen by parents as those ‘with scope’. Arts and humanities are considered of low value and students taking these streams are considered not to be serious or worse still, 'mediocre'.

Many parents would balk at the idea of their children wanting to take up fine arts, music, theatre or sports as their career. Take the recent Olympics. We found it easy to blame the government, the sports authority and the athletes themselves for not winning us more medals at the Olympics. But how many middle class parents would be okay with their children mainstreaming sport as their career choice. Sport like fine arts has always been relegated to an extra-curricular activity for a child. 'Finish your homework and then play', would be the admonishment of the parent. In the case of Puujitha, it’s obvious that the child can paint well, as she was able to sell a painting of hers. Would the parents now consider sending her to train to be a painter?

I know of many children in my close circle of family and friends who were pushed to academic excellence so as to get a merit seat in premier engineering colleges only to throw it all away years later to take up an alternate career in fine arts. How many musicians, film makers, artists and writers can you point out who trained to be engineers by profession, before they took the plunge to pursue their dreams, once they were away from parental pressure?

The schools in turn play on this Indian psyche for academic excellence and most premier schools take only the creme-de-la-creme and top percentile mark students for Class 10 and wean out the 'mediocre' students, either in Class 8 or 9. The schools are keen to show good academic results and want only the top rankers in Class 10. Tuitions, coaching classes, special classes are the bane of children when they reach Classes 10 and 12. 

The parents of students who don’t reach the top ranks are persuaded to take their children out of the school. Quite often, the parents are ashamed to face the academic failure of their children in their social circles and go through the trauma of looking for admission in a middle rung school.

Voices of Youth, founded in 1995 as Unicef’s online place for young people, has a post from a student about the "prevalent stereotype that Asian countries heap extreme amounts of academic pressure on their youth, and, in my community, that is completely true! Universities in my country don't pay attention to extra-curriculars, hobbies, or your passion — instead of a holistic application process, universities simply request your academic grades. Because of this, schools, teachers, parents, and even students, place too much pressure on themselves to perform well in school."

The New Indian Express reported last year of more than 4,400 students dropping out of IITs and NITs in the last three years due to various reasons including "academic stress". 

The Anandakrishnan Committee report on suicides in IITs also mentioned stress and inability to cope up with the system.

Most premier institutions, colleges and schools have counsellors on board, but do they tell the students that’s it’s all right to fail and that it’s not really the end of the world?

Unfortunately, the examination system in our country does not rate a student holistically — for their people skills, kinetic skills, their linguistic skills or even their experience of travel and learning about different cultures. Why aren’t these skills given importance in the education system, for these life skills are what actually get an individual through life, not just academic brilliance.

But it’s not as though educators are unaware of the problems with standardised tests and exams. The Huffington Post has a blog titled, "I expect the highest scores", by a principal of a school about standardised tests, and how "they provide only a minute snapshot of a child's very complex learning profile". She details how a multiple choice test doesn't address emotional intelligence, or measure motivation or empathy for others, or whether the child is open to new ideas, or a strong collaborator and team member or about the child’s feelings towards issues around social justice and making a difference in the community and beyond.

So, it’s not as though we don’t know the problem. It’s now time to act.

Stop putting pressure on your children. It does not really matter in the larger scheme of life, nor is it important whether your child gets that prized seat in a premier institution. Your child’s measure of success as an individual does not rest on that.
Stop robbing children of their childhood and give them back their innocence. Let them delight in the fine arts, crafts, music and just the joy of being. Let them delight in life and cherish little moments and let the future take care of itself.