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Monday, June 20, 2016

Shatrughan Sinha releases book on student suicides in Bihar - INDIAN EXPRESS


"The issue must be debated in society in order to protect precious lives of our students who are under excessive mental stress," said the senior BJP leader.

By: PTI | Patna | Updated: June 19, 2016 8:24 am


Bollywood star and BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha along with Bihar’s education minister Ashok Choudhary and Super-30 founder Anand Kumar releasing a book ‘Suicide’ written by journalist Sanjay Kumar Sinha in Patna on June 18. (Source: PTI)

Expressing grave concern over rise in incidents of suicide due to exam failure and competitions, senior BJP leader Shatrughan Sinha on June 18 suggested the need for a serious discussion on how to relieve students of excessive mental stress.

Sinha was speaking at a function on the occasion of the release of a book ‘Suicide? There is always a tomorrow’ by senior journalist Sanjay Sinha.

“The issue must be debated in society in order to protect precious lives of our students who are under excessive mental stress,” he said, adding that it was not only surprising but heart-rending to know that failure in examinations and competition accounted for about two per cent of total suicides in India in 2014.

Referring to the book which talks about plan B or C in the event of failure of one’s cherished dream, the BJP MP said people especially youths must have their plan B or C ready.

“Fight it out. This is the art we have to teach our children,” he said.

Bihar Education Minister Ashok Choudhary suggested that the book should be published in Hindi so that it can be read by the masses.

“The book will certainly work as mirror for parents,” he said.
Anand Kumar, founder of ‘Super 30’ whose 28 out of 30 students made it to IIT this year, said that the book intends to bring positive thoughts. He said that it will prove to be handy for teachers and policy makers and those who have commercialised educational institutions.

Sanjay Sinha, the author, said the book dealt with a very sensitive subject that has gripped the society and younger generation.

As per National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) data, a total of 2,403 suicides due to failure in competition and examination was recorded in 2014. Bihar accounted for 82 untimely deaths of students in that year, he said.

Similarly, Kota, the coaching hub of India, witnessed 25 suicides in past 5 years on this count, he added.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Shadow Education - Indian Express



The coaching industry wreaks an enormous social toll. What must be the policy response?

Written by Yugank Goyal | Updated: June 18, 2016 12:13 am

The $ 45-million dollar coaching industry in Kota has led to the suicide of 57 young people in the last five years — seven students just this year. (Source: Express photo by Tashi Tobgyal/ File)

There’s little scholarly research on the subject even when, according to the National Sample Survey Organisation, around 7.1 crore Indian children attend some form of private coaching and 10 to 11 per cent of a family’s budget is consumed by such tuitions. The private coaching industry is bigger than $ 40 billion. This is about the state GDP of Odisha.

Kota is the poster-child of this huge yet shadow education system. The $ 45-million dollar coaching industry in the city has led to the suicide of 57 young people in the last five years — seven students just this year.

Research suggests coaching in a Kota centre could well begin when the child is 13 years old. She would never attend a regular school with playgrounds or read poems in a class. She will only undertake IIT/medical college preparation classes. The creativity is killed before it blooms. The two-year cost (including tuition and living expenses) for parents could be around Rs 6 lakh — India’s average per capita annual income is about Rs 86,000. Acceptance rates as low as 0.005 per cent (for IITs) leaves the unsuccessful students dejected and guilt-ridden — an enormous psychological and emotional cost.

Is there a benefit which justifies this cost? Does coaching add value to human capital, or is it merely a signalling device? If it adds value then the governments must encourage them. But if it’s the latter, alternative means of signalling must be evolved given the horrendous social cost.

There is some evidence — Pratham conducted a two-year randomised control trial — that private tutoring in school (grade 3 or 4) did benefit students in mastering basic skills. But there is no systematic evidence which shows that coaching for entrance examinations to colleges leads to any significant increase in productivity. In India, due to a high number of applicants, entrance examinations brutally cast aside many.
If the coaching classes indeed contributed to human capital, then we should observe once-coached IIT graduates excelling in their career significantly more than their
un-coached counterparts (controlling for other things). There is no evidence to show this. Although there is no evidence to show the contrary either, it is not difficult to imagine the need of coaching merely as signalling. 

A World Bank publication (Dang and Rogers, 2008) theoretically explains that coaching institutions are not likely to add value to human capital. In fact, an increase in signalling efforts comes at the cost of human capital — in Kota, formal education for the IIT/medical college aspirant is offered in dummy schools which lack well-rounded education. Entrance tests measure merely signalling value and therefore, coaching is not likely to increase students’ human capital any more than self-practice does.

What must be the policy response? Countries have varying responses to private coaching: Ban (in Korea, Myanmar, Cambodia), regulate (in Hong Kong, Korea, Vietnam, Ukraine), ignore (in Nigeria, Sri Lanka, UK, Canada) or encourage (in Singapore, South Africa, Tanzania). Banning has been unsuccessful either due to weak implementation (Myanmar, Cambodia) or because of powerful interest groups (Korea). Banning doesn’t make sense in India too. Regulation could be useful. But India has weak enforcement infrastructure and a highly inelastic demand for coaching.

Therefore, alternative signalling mechanisms must be explored. Many elite universities around the world often select students on the basis of their overall intelligence and performance in schools. For many, exams act as a process to eliminate non-serious applicants, but don’t determine their selection. Selection happens through a rigorous process of considering several factors — grades, recommendations, interviews, motivation, extra-curricular activities. This means students must attend regular schools engaging with history, poetry, mathematics, debating and football. In such alternative systems, there is little that coaching institutions can do to terminate creativity of societies. If anything, they will turn themselves into good schools — and we do need more good schools.

The writer teaches economics at the O. P. Jindal Global University, where he is also deputy director of International Institute for Higher Education Research and  Capacity Building

Thursday, June 16, 2016

13-member team from MP in Kota to study suicides - TNN


Shoeb Khan | TNN | Jun 15, 2016, 06.35 AM IST

Jaipur: A 13-member parliamentary committee of Madhya Pradesh is on a two-day visit to Kota to study the local (Kota) administration's recent steps to minimize suicides and stress levels among coaching students.

The committee members include MP's education minister Uma Shankar Gupta, acting leader of Opposition Bala Bachchan along with 9 other MLAs representing all regions of MP. The visit by MP's lawmakers came close on the heels of suicides by school and coaching students in cities like Indore, Bhopal and Ujjain. 

The committee members expressed keen interest in implementing the guidelines issued by Kota collector Ravi Kumar Surpur for coaching institutes and hostel owners in March 2016 in toto. Additional district collector Sunita Daga held a meeting with the members earlier in the day. 

She told TOI, "They are here to study Kota model for coaching institutes and hostels. . They will be meeting coaching institute directors, coaching students, mess operators and local transporters to prepare their report."

Here the committee members opined that guidelines of Kota can be replicated not only in MP but across the country. "The compulsory screening test by coaching institutes will allow the students to make decision keeping their aptitude in mind. 

Secondly, counselling of students and parents on careers beyond IITs will certainly encourage students to look for more colleges other than IITs," said a committee member requesting anonymity.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

26 student suicides in 3 yrs at premier institutes - Tribune

NNEW DELHI September 25 : “Why should we torture them now when we didn’t torture them 15 years ago?” KS Venkatesh, professor of electrical engineering at IIT Kanpur, quips when asked what was driving students to suicides in the premiere institutes of India.
Between 2008 and 2011, IITs, IIMs and National Institutes of Technology (NITs) together reported 26 student suicides; 16 of these at IITs alone and seven at NITs. This Friday, IIT Kanpur saw the fifth suicide in the last three years; the 10th in its entire history. After scribbling a telling note - "I am tired of IIT" -- across his hostel room wall, 18-year-old Mahtab Ahmad ended his life by hanging from a ceiling fan.
Venkatesh, who studied at IIT-K and now heads its faculty association, mourns the terrible reality of students succumbing to academic pressure, but attributes much of this stress to rising expectations of parents and JEE’s mechanical coaching. The coaching trains students to crack entrance exams, but fails them when it comes to the real challenge of being an IITian which involves thinking and innovating.
"I trace much of this to parents who torment their wards for not scoring the top 9 grade. Even during the counselling sessions with JEE crackers, parents ask us what their child’s starting salary would be were he to consider a particular branch. They behave like customers, asking us to show their child’s worth. Naturally, students too no longer come to us for the love of learning. They basically come to make money. It’s time parents start telling children to do as well as they can, not as well as they must," says Venkatesh.

He also warns of growing depression among M Tech students who stay on for research instead of jumping into jobs after four years of graduation.

Eighty per cent IIT suicides in the last three years have involved undergraduates UGs. Causes of stress vary as an IIT Delhi student explains, "The first year is tough as you are getting to absorb the system where professors naturally demand performance from you. That’s the nature of IITs. The stress of scoring is the highest in the first two years. In the final year, peer pressure is at its worst as you face the fiercely competitive campus placements. Here top scorers are major gainers; hence the pressure on low scorers."

On May 2, an M Tech student from IIT Madras, Nitin Reddy, committed suicide after being asked to repeat a course in the final year. This meant losing the job he had landed. IIT Madras later concluded that Nitin was depressed, but his father approached the National Human Rights Commission for justice.

UB Desai, Director of IIT Hyderabad, say the systems - such as counselling units - are in place, though more psychologists are needed. The institutes also appoint faculty advisers for freshers to help them understand the new place. But all this has not always helped. In IIT Bombay, for example, the counselling unit failed to identify regular visitor Srikant Malapulla (21) as a depressive. He later committed suicide.

Alarmed by the surging cases, IIT Council recently decided to set up a taskforce of directors to study the problem which Prof Sanjay Dhande, Director, IIT Kanpur, describes as a "social scourge". He wants the media to stop glorifying the IITs and NITs as the only quality institutes. "Turn the arc lights to other unsung institutes; ease the stress on IITians," he appeals, asking parents to tame their expectations.

"Students must also realise they now have more freedoms without responsibilities. There are distractions like cell phones and the internet. These issues require introspection considering changing moral values and lifestyles," he says.

An IIT-K panel constituted to look into the spate of suicides had earlier suggested an end to single-room hostel occupancy system and suggested that students share the rooms. They also said ceiling fans should be replaced with pedestal fans and internet speed should be reduced to prevent unhindered web access in the institutes. The logic given was constant internet use left students too tired to concentrate on lessons.

The new taskforce, directors say, will give fresh suggestions. Meanwhile, the IIT faculty admits they have been unable to attend to students the way they used to. Since 2007, the intake at all central educational institutes increased manifold following the 27 per cent mandatory OBC reservation. "At IIT-K, the student teacher ratio used to be 8:1. It is now 16:1," Venkatesh explains.

In a lighter vein, he even suggests that ragging must be allowed in small, decent measures to ensure that seniors talk to juniors and inter-personal ties build. "Look at our students today. Each one is an island, each one a loner," he says.

(Courtesy : The Tribune, Chandigarh)

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Woman biker returns home after riding solo across nation on anti-suicide campaign - India.com


As people cheered the young mother returning home, she recounted the positivity she had encountered during her journey. "It's a wonderful feeling, and I have covered 38,000 kilometers in India, all the states and union territories.


By ANI on June 13, 2016 at 2:15 PM


Hyderabad ( Telangana), June 13 : A woman biker who embarked on an anti-suicide mission by riding solo across India reached her hometown Hyderabad on Sunday after a successful stint. Sana Iqbal embarked on a solo countrywide ride on November 23 last year from Goa. After having suffered from depression herself, she wanted to encourage others to never give up in life.

As people cheered the young mother returning home, she recounted the positivity she had encountered during her journey. ”It’s a wonderful feeling, and I have covered 38,000 kilometers in India, all the states and union territories. So it’s a fantastic experience. Wherever I went, I met a lot of people who were very helpful, who really wanted to, you know, do something for the betterment of the society. I mean, I just came across a lot of positivity wherever I went,” she said

During the campaign, Iqbal conducted seminars in several universities on how to combat depression. ”There are two options: one is, we discuss an issue but don’t do anything constructive, only keep pointing out the negativities. The second option is when people choose to correct the wrongs. So that’s exactly what I thought. I love riding. I was interested in it. I thought, if I ride and someone is benefitted because of it, then why not,” he added.

Iqbal has been counseling patients with depression even in the past and plans to continue doing so in the future as well. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), 15 persons in India committed suicide every hour in 2014. More than 800,000 people each year worldwide commit suicide – around one person every 40 seconds – the World Health Organisation (WHO) said in September 2014.


Modified Date: June 13, 2016 2:15 PM

Friday, June 10, 2016

Suicides: NCPCR summons Kota collector tomorrow - India Today


June 8, 2016 | UPDATED 22:45 IST

New Delhi, Jun 8 (PTI) 

National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has summoned Kota District Collector tomorrow regarding a spate of suicide cases involving IIT-aspirants studying in various coaching centres in the town. The commission is probing 44 suicide cases in the coaching hub during past three years. This is the second summons in two months for the District Collector Ravi Kumar Surpur, a senior NCPCR official said today.

"We are not getting any co-operation from the local administration. We have sought information from them on 33 points. We want to know how many teaching and non-teaching staff are there across coaching centres.

"We have also demanded that the police verification of the staff be carried out. We want to know how many authorised and un-authorised hostels there are in Kota for students. 

This time we want the district collector to give us the date on an affidavit by when he will share all the information with us," the official said. The Commission, which has been probing the matter since December last, visited Kota in April to carry out an inspection.


"We saw that these (coaching) centres were in a terrible condition. There were 250 students packed in one classroom, there is no grievance redressal system for students and even though there is a helpline number available the same has not been displayed at these centres. We also noticed that at one of the centres there were only four counsellors for 77,000 students," the official said. 

PTI JC RCJ RG RCJ

Friday, June 3, 2016

A Peek Into The Coaching Centres Of Kota Reveals Just Why It’s Becoming A Suicide Zone by Ritu Singh - Scoop Whoop

Jun 02, 2016 at 16:29


"Yahan suicides hote rehte hain" (suicides keep happening here), a student from one of Kota's coaching institute casually quipped when ScoopWhoop asked him about the spate of suicides in the town. While I was still weighing the density of this seemingly normal experience of his, it struck me how such a tragic travesty has transformed into a regular affair.


The count this year has reached 10 already

A 17-year-old IIT aspirant Nirmal Yogi, studying at a coaching institute in Kota, committed suicide by hanging himself from a ceiling fan in his rented room in Mahaveer Nagar area this week, making it the 10th such incident this year

Say the name Kota, and you are instantly reminded of a volley of coaching centres which shelter the dreams of thousand of students every year. Over the last decade, Kota has emerged as a coaching hub for those preparing for entrance examinations for top engineering and medical colleges. But behind the successful Rs 300-crore coaching industry, recent suicides have, of late, marred its reputation.

A quick search of the word Kota on Google will sum up the basic attributes of this city:

"Naam bade aur darshan chote," this is what one student who just finished his coaching from Kota told us, when asked to sum up his experience in one sentence. 

So, what is it about this place that drives students to take the extreme step? 

It puts tremendous pressure on students
'Doctors and engineers', India is obsessed with this phrase. For the average middle class, the allure of IITs and IIMs is something which will never fade away. Obsession with those two prized professions remains so much so that they constantly pressurize their kids to achieve what may be impossible for them.


What comes next are the gruelling work schedules, 18 hours of rigorous study sessions, frequent tests and fierce competition that drive students to the edge. Also, the age at which these youngsters come here is the time when they go through physical as well as psychological changes. Being away from home for the first time, being in constant stress and failing to understand such changes, they fall prey to depression.
  • 'If you can't get into IIT, you are worthless'
Shine or be left behind. Entry into IITs or the other engineering and medical schools is seen as the only measure of worth and that is the only message drilled continuously into the students' heads by the teachers and coaching institutes, said another student. 

For these institutes, churning out IITians is what gives them their edge and helps them run their sprawling business. So, they push students to extreme levels and make them realize that getting into these institutes is the only salvation for them. 
  • There is no place for mediocrity
If you are an average student, prepare to be traumatized. These coaching institutes usually have the habit of segregating students into different batches on the basis of their performance. Because they just want the best out of the lot and ignore those who are not so bright as their counterparts.

The students who score the most are given more facilities and are taught by the institution's best teachers while the other section is assigned to the new and inexperienced ones. Those who lag in their studies live in terror of these internal assessments, continuously feeling inferior and inadequate.

This Facebook post on the Page Kota Confessions gives a brief idea of what the situation is:

No fee refund policies who want a way out
Coaching classes charge a hell lot, at least 200,000 rupees for a two-year course, which for the Indian middle-class families is a significant amount. But the parents who are hell-bent on pushing their kids to country's prestigious institutes don't think twice before investing in the hopes that a fancy degree would bring greater returns. 

But unfortunately, once you get into these institutes, there are usually no refund options if you want to make an exit. Despite unfavorable circumstances, some students still stick around due to financial constraints in hopes to not dash their parents' dreams killing their instead.
  • Most coaching centres have no counsellors
Students operate under high stress levels which mean that's the reason the town also has a high rate of suicide. Another student who didn't wish to name his coaching institute said many centres don't have counsellors despite guidelines. In such a rigid environment, the dearth of counselors and a guiding hand only leaves the students directionless. 

Though considering the suicide rates, many helpline centres have been opened who say they get frantic calls from students that they want to end their lives.
  • There are other reasons too...
A student studying at Resonance coaching institute however refuted some of the obvious theories about suicides. He said that many suicides happen here because of relationship issues, drug abuse and the fact that these teenagers in absence of parental guidance adopt bad practices and get into bad company.

"Sorry for being weak, and not showing courage, but I am tired now, no strength left," Kriti Tripathi, another 17-year-old IIT aspirant who had committed suicide on April 28 wrote in her suicide letter, which perhaps sums up the unsettled minds of these aspirants.

Whatever be the case, the trend of these young kids choosing death over life is disturbing. Let's not burden them with colossal hopes and just let them be.

(Names of the students have been withheld to protect their privacy)







IIT Aspirant Commits Suicide In Kota; 10th Such Case This Year- Huffington Post

PTI

Posted: 31/05/2016 18:31 IST Updated: 31/05/2016 19:17 IST

A 17-year-old IIT aspirant, studying at a coaching institute in Kota, committed suicide by hanging himself from a ceiling fan in his rented room in Mahaveer Nagar area, the 10th such incident in the coaching hub this year.
Nirmal Yogi, a Class XII student and a resident of Sawai Madhopur district, on Monday night hanged himself from the fan using a towel, police said.
The body was sent to a hospital for postmortem on Tuesday morning, police said, adding no suicide note was found in the room.

A probe has been launched in the matter to ascertain why he took the extreme step.
Another student had last month ended her life despite having cracked the IIT-JEE mains. The girl had in a suicide note said she was not able to put up with the depression and stress that she had been experiencing while taking coaching and that the government should down coaching institutes.
In the wake of increasing cases of suicides by students, Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh had recently said a body formed to regulate coaching institutes. "The body should also decide the admission procedure to these institutes and direct them to reduce the pressure on students," he had said.

IIT-Aspirant Allegedly Commits Suicide In Kota, 6th Death This Year - NDTV


Cities | Written by Harsha Kumari Singh | Updated: June 01, 2016 10:14 IST


KOTA: 
HIGHLIGHTS
  1. Nirmal Yogi allegedly killed self after performing poorly in tests
  2. He was prepping for admission to IITs for the past two years
  3. 6 student suicides reported from coaching hub Kota this year

A 17-year-old student prepping for admission to the Indian Institutes of Technology or IITs allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself from a fan at his rented room in Kota in Rajasthan on Monday night, the police have said.

Nirmal Yogi, a Class XII student and a resident of Sawai Madhopur district, is the sixth student to have died in the coaching hub this year. He was prepping for admission to the premier engineering institute for the past two years.

No suicide note was found in his room.  But his family says he was "depressed" after performing poorly in tests conducted twice a month to review students' progress.

"He was depressed. Every 15 days there is a test. He didn't get good marks so he was tense," said Nirmal's uncle.

Nirmal's body has been sent to hospital for postmortem, the police said, adding that an investigation has been ordered in the case.

The small desert town of Kota, nearly 250 km from Jaipur, accommodates a range of coaching institutes to prep 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.

After another student ended her life despite having cracked the IIT-JEE mains last month, a senior administration official, Collector Ravi Kumar 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".

Seventeen students taking coaching committed suicide in Kota last year, after which guidelines to coaching institutes to check such deaths were initiated.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

IIT aspirant commits suicide in Kota; 10th such case this year - The Hindu

KOTA (RAJASTHAN), May 31, 2016


A 17-year-old IIT aspirant, studying at a coaching institute here, committed suicide by hanging himself from a ceiling fan in his rented room in Mahaveer Nagar area, the 10th such incident in the coaching hub this year.
Nirmal Yogi, a Class XII student and a resident of Sawai Madhopur district, last night hanged himself from the fan using a towel, police said.
The body was sent to a hospital for postmortem this morning, police said, adding no suicide note was found in the room.
A probe has been launched in the matter to ascertain why he took the extreme step.
Another student had last month ended her life despite having cracked the IIT-JEE mains. The girl had in a suicide note said she was not able to put up with the depression and stress that she had been experiencing while taking coaching and that the government should down coaching institutes.


In the wake of increasing cases of suicides by students, Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh had recently said a body formed to regulate coaching institutes. “The body should also decide the admission procedure to these institutes and direct them to reduce the pressure on students,” he had said.

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.