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Friday, May 27, 2011

11 - 15th January 2006 - IIT Kgp boy kills self over failed affair - Source-TOI

TNN, Jan 15, 2006, 01.45am IST
KOLKATA: Dhiraj Kumar Anand, a II-year student of IITKharagpur's mining department, hung himself from the ceiling fan of his hostel room on Friday evening. Police said he committed suicide after a failed love affair.

A suicide note said Dhiraj was depressed as his love had not been reciprocated. Police found lines written on the walls in his room expressing his love for the girl.

Dhiraj had performed well in his first-year exams. He was said to be soft spoken, friendly and religious-minded. "He did not seem depressed.

The question of study and exam stress does not arise as he was a very good student," IIT-Kharagpur director S K Dubey said. Dhiraj last attended classes on January 12. No one at the IIT saw him after he retired to his room that night.

There was no class for the students of his department the next morning, so he was not missed till much later. The door was locked throughout the day. When he was not seen till late afternoon, his friends knocked on his door.

When there was no response, they got in touch with the hostel authorities who informed the police station located on campus.

This is the second suicide at IIT-Kharagpur in less than two years. In April 2004, Nishith Karwa was found hanging from the window grill of his room

10 - 13th Jan 2006 – Open Letter to IITB Director from Anil Chawla - EFFECT OF UNLIMITED BROADBAND INTERNET ON CAMPUS LIFE AND CULTURE

To,
The Director,
Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay
Powai, Mumbai - 400 076

Sir,

Thanks for the courtesies extended to all of us from the batch of 1980 at our Silver Jubilee Reunion in the last week of December 2005. We enjoyed the meet and were really glad to see that the institute has grown during the past two and a half decades.

While we were enjoying ourselves and renewing our long-lost contacts, some of us visited the hostels and interacted with the present students. We learnt that the culture on the campus has changed drastically from our days. The hostels are different from what we nostalgically remember.

There have been significant improvements in terms of infrastructure - better-equipped messes, water purification systems, washing machines and an Internet connection in each room. Our batch was the last one to use slide rule. Calculators were allowed when we were in second semester. When we came, hostel rooms did not even have ceiling fans (fans were fitted when we were more than half way through). When we passed out, personal computer was still many years away and all that we learnt of programming was using punch-cards. So, comparing today's infrastructure with our times is indeed mind-boggling.

We could have been envious of today's students. But, we saw a negative side of the picture that left us worried rather than envious. In our times, hostel lounge was a centre of activity. In those days, the lounge used to have a black & white TV, a music system, a carom table, a TT table, and a few magazines. It used to be bustling with activity, which was more often than not a bit too noisy for my liking. But, now when I visited lounge of my own hostel, it was a mere shadow of its glorious past. It still had the magazines, but everything else was gone. The furniture looked as if it had not been used for ages. The place looked dead and the silence was eerie.

The reasons for the change in ambience of lounge are not too far to seek. Every student now has a computer, which can be used for playing music - so coming to lounge and listening to music is passé. The computer has also replaced the TV. It appears that the computer has also replaced carom table and TT table. Now, students spend hours playing games on the computer in their respective rooms. We were told that counterstrike is the favourite on the campus, with some students playing it for hours at a stretch every day. I was even introduced to someone as the invincible champion of counterstrike. I tried to talk to this so-called champion. It was a futile exercise - he did not know how to talk. His language capabilities were limited to monosyllables and some shaking of the head as a zombie probably would.

Was he an isolated case? Probably yes, but more probably, no! Unfortunately, it seems that the counterstrike champion was just a representative of the new crop of IITians - good at the mouse but very bad at almost all human interaction skills - an impression confirmed by the student who made a presentation to our batch about TechFest. His presentation used computer-generated graphics in a way that we could never have done as students. Yet, he failed to impress. His skills as an orator are unlikely to bring any glory to IIT.

Public speaking is a skill that only a few have. Even, in our batch, not many were (or are) good orators. So, if the present generation of IIT students lacks this skill, this cannot be a cause of worry. There is, however, one difference. Two and a half decades ago, while the average student at IITB might have lacked oratory skills, the leaders among students - the ones who acted as spokespersons - were comparable to the best in the world. The student leaders of IITB during 70's and 80s represented the tip of a pyramid. Most of us were nowhere near the pinnacle, yet had our own strengths when it came to putting a point forward.

An average student of IITB during the late seventies honed his skills at discussions, argumentation and debate in the mess, corridors and steps of hostels. I remember that when I came as fresher, I could hardly speak English. In less than a year, I was speaking fluently - albeit, with a lot of slang. Compared to that today's situation seems strange. The messes are too quiet; lounges are empty; wing corridors do not have any hot debates going on. The most surprising part was when a student of Hostel 13 told me that he did not even know the names of all his wingmates and there was at least one person in his wing with whom he had not talked even once during the past four months or so that he had lived in the wing.

The shocking absence of social and interpersonal interaction in the hostels is not something that can be taken lightly. IIT has a brand value today because of its alumni. On IITB campus, there are many buildings that have been funded by alumni who have been successful in their lives. How many of these alumni were outstanding in academics while they were at IIT? How many gold medallists of IITB have done as well as Nandan Nilekani or Manohar Parrikar? IITians who have shone across the world did learn a lot in the classrooms of IITB, but my humble contention is that they learnt even more in the hostels interacting at close quarters with some of the best minds of the country.

It appears that Internet and internet-based games have replaced the warmth that hostels of IITB had till very recently. A computer in each hostel room with an unlimited broadband connection was a technological dream that was too farfetched for us to even imagine when we were students. Now that the dream has come true, it is time that we took care of the negative consequences.

I understand that managements of various IITs are aware of the problem. IIT Madras Director is rumoured to have said in one of his classes that he was less bothered about porn and more concerned about computer games that are addictive and can take up hours at a stretch. IIT Madras puts off its server from 0100 hours to 0400 hours so that students can sleep and do not continue playing through the night. I am told that IIT Bombay has introduced compulsory attendance (80 per cent) in all classes to ensure that students come to classes instead of playing games in their rooms.


Poor attendance in classes is just one of the consequences of extensive computer-game-playing. As Director, ensuring high level of academic performance is surely one of your primary duties. But, academic life is just one facet of IIT experience. IITB, in particular, and all IITs in general have prided themselves on all-round development of their students. With the adoption of new technological advances, it seems that a crisis situation has been created - students are missing out the complete transformational experience that IITs traditionally offered. Classroom instructions are one part of what the students are missing out when they remain glued to the screens, but that is not the only part or the most important part that they are missing.

To stress my point, let me discuss about the recent suicide on IITB campus. The poor soul apparently was distressed due to some decision of IITB management. He was a genius in one field and was studying in another. But, was all these sufficient reason for him to take the ultimate step? Did he talk to his friends before that? As it seems, he was a loner permanently glued to his computer screen. He was an island all unto himself. It seems that too many of students at IITB today are islands with no bridges connecting them to others even around them. This is not a problem of just IITB. Last semester, even IIT Kanpur had a suicide.


IITians are known today across the world as great warriors who fight against all odds without losing their sense of humour and wit. None of the attitudes and skills needed for this grit can be picked up from a computer screen or in a classroom. If the future generations of IITians come without essential survival and human interaction mindsets, they may make good nerds but they will no longer be able to make much of a mark in various fields where IITians are shining today. If this happens, IIT will no longer be the big brand that it is supposed to be today.

Management, faculty and above all student community of IIT Bombay must discuss the impact of the present policy of providing unlimited broadband Internet connection in every hostel room. I am not against adoption of new technology. Probably, we need more technology to ensure that Internet technology does not become a curse. Should the broadband connections in hostel rooms block all gaming? Should there be metering of usage in terms of time or downloaded bytes? These are some of the questions that come to my mind. Surely, there must be many more questions, alternatives, solutions that must be discussed threadbare by the IITB community.

I am sure that IITB community will be able to face up to the problem and come up with solutions that will guide all other institutes, colleges and universities not just in India but also abroad.

Thanks & Regards,



ANIL CHAWLA
13 January 2006

9 - 7th Jan 2006 - Trapped in pursuit of success - Source- The Tribune

Trapped in pursuit of success
In IITs, the pressure to excel is killing. Caught between tough academic standards and exacting goals, students even resort to taking their lives. Shahira Naim reports


Three students committed suicide while I was in IIT, Chennai. The pressure to perform academically is unbelievable. That is the reason why drug use is quite rampant. I survived thanks to my adult mentors. — IIT alumnus

Not many realise that today students are swimming in a different ocean than the one in which their parents swam. It is not marks alone that matter now; it is important to have a smart mind too. That comes from participating in extra-curricular activities and learning  social skills. 


An IIT alumna from Kanpur remembers a fellow student standing at the edge of a water tank and contemplating suicide. Recalling this spine-chilling incident on a blog site, she writes:  “There were others like me standing motionless. Finally I saw a professor standing and chatting to someone, and called out to her for help. She took over. There were security people in minutes but all stood helpless. What if she jumped? Everyone cleared the corridors and waited, just waited.

“No, finally she didn’t jump. One professor courageously called out to her from his window and asked her to move away from the tank. She heeded that call, maybe even at that point she could not think of defying a professor. I wonder what all went through her mind? Who can tell? She must not have been more than 20 years old... maybe even younger.

“Her parents refused to let her drop a semester. After all she was a success; she had no right to fail. She tried harder. Her mother stayed with her. Finally they took her back and let her drop the semester. Her friends were happy that they were not weaklings like her. I haven’t seen her around since then. This successful place (IIT Kanpur) has a remarkable capacity to block failures out. She is not missed.

“But I am still shaken. I don’t want to end up there, no matter what, whether I am successful or not. I want to slow down. And I want to get out of this ‘successful’ place. It is so lonely; it has such little tolerance for people like her, and perhaps for people like me. I feel trapped in my success.…”

This item, which appeared on a blog site some time ago, invited fellow IITians to provide an insight into the other side of these high-profile centres of excellence.

Responding to this article, another ex-IITian made a frank admission on the same site. “Not only did I have to face academic and peer pressures, but also lots of family and financial problems. There was no refuge to be found anywhere. I must confess the thought of suicide did cross my mind during those miserable days. What helped me was the realisation that life goes on and failures and successes are a part of the game. In the end your happiness or contentment in life is not entirely proportional to your GPA or how much of a “God” you were in your academic years. What matters a lot is that you find interesting work and hobbies, meaningful relationships, achieve some level of maturity and self-knowledge, and develop a calm mind.

“After some introspection and thinking, I redefined my values entirely and threw out that “ivory-tower” rat-race mentality. I made a fresh start, doing things that interested me and helping people in the same situation. I couldn’t care less if I didn’t make money or didn’t get to be a CEO or if my IIT (or other) peers didn’t respect me. I had decided that I was going to be happy.

Encouraged by such honest outpouring, another student confessed, “I too spent five years at IIT, Chennai, and while I came through with no major baggage (my wife disagrees...), three students committed suicide while I was there. One hanged himself in the bathroom at lunchtime since he had to take a test in the afternoon. He was in his third year and definitely not at the bottom of his class. The pressure to perform academically is unbelievable. There is a reason why drug use is quite rampant. I survived thanks to my adult mentors (both IIT and non-IIT) who taught me that it was more important to nurture my spirit. I graduated with 7.5 GPA but an immense capacity to face reality without being terrorised by the need to prove that my selection into the IIT was not a fluke.”

After reading these experiences of students from different IIT campuses, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the suicide rate has only increased over the years. On November 29 last year, a 21-year-old’s life was lost on the campus of IIT, Kanpur. The untimely death of Swapnil Chandrakant Dharaskar, a second-year student of mechanical engineering came hours before he was to appear for chemistry examination that morning. It could have been explained away as an isolated case of nerves had it not been the third such death on an IIT campus within the country in just two months. Lokesh Chand, a third-year student of electronics at IIT, Roorkee, committed suicide on the campus on November 10. Seven days later on the IIT campus at Powai, final-year student Vijay Nukala decided to end his life. A computer geek, he had failed in three papers due to poor attendance. This could have resulted in the loss of a year. So, Nukala decided to put an end to his life on November 17, 2005.

Swapnil’s father refuses to believe that his son could have committed suicide as he had called him at Nagpur at 6.45 a.m. The boy had spoken to his father the night before the tragedy as well. After that he continued to study till 2 am along with his room mate Krishna Kumar Khandelwal. The roommate went off to sleep and did not find him in the room when he woke up in the morning. Some time back Swapnil’s sister had written to him and asked him “not to remain in tension, all will be fine”.

While the Deputy Director, IIT, Kanpur, Kripa Shankar, admits that Swapnil’s case looks like a case of suicide, he is at a loss to explain why an above-average student like Swapnil would be “tense” and want to end his life. He had a cumulative performance index (CPI) of eight out of 10 – obviously excellent even by IIT standards. “It is perhaps the collective pressure from family members and friends that makes a student do this. Why should the faculty put any pressure when he was already so good,” asks Shankar, refusing to share the blame. Yet he agrees that this is the fifth suicide of a student on the campus since he has arrived.

A reputed educationist and counsellor, Dr Amrita Das, maintains that perhaps not many realise that today students are swimming in a different ocean than the one in which their parents swam. It is not marks alone that matter now, it is important to have a smart mind too. That comes from participating in extra-curricular activities, nurturing creative hobbies, spending time with friends and learning social skills. In other words, by letting children just be. It is not only IQ but also better EQ (emotional quotient) that counts today.

A request that a student had made at a counselling session continues to haunt Dr Das. “This young girl told me ‘please tell our parents to also remind us of our competencies and not just of competitions’.”

It is perhaps important in this context to recall Union HRD Minister Arjun Singh’s demand to initiate a national debate on the issue before setting up guidelines for educational boards and institutions to combat the problem of increasing tension and suicides amongst students.

The divided view on this controversial topic came out at a meeting organised by the HRD Ministry in New Delhi in March last year. It was attended amongst others by eminent educationists, including NCERT head Krishna Kumar, Professor Yashpal, IIT Kanpur Director S.G. Dhande, IIM Ahmedabad Director Bakul Dholakia and head of the CBSE Ashok Ganguly.

Representing the reformist group, Professor Yashpal had demanded the revolutionary ‘open book’ system and flexi-timings during examinations. The reformists had argued in favour of a comprehensive and continuous evaluation with grading. They had called for career counselling, guidance for parents and teachers and had strongly recommended restructuring of the examination system so that creativity and not the capacity to memorise was evaluated.

In contrast, the representatives of professional institutions felt that this would dilute the source of their excellence. They claimed that the high standard and tough examinations system followed by the IITs and IIMs had made these institutions world class. The solutions that they offered to deal with stress on the campus were: “engage in social work” and “proper counselling”.

The deaths that have occurred on their campuses since then clearly indicate that the help-students measures haven’t been initiated and students continue to fall from the ivory towers constructed in their minds.

8 - 4th Dec 2005 - Beautiful minds: The despair behind the IIT suicides -Source-DNA India

Published: Sunday, Dec 4, 2005, 20:26 IST
Agency: DNA



IITians who succumbed:

Lokesh Chand, a third year student Electronics Engineering at IIT Roorkee hung himself in his room on November 11, 2005
Swapnil Chandrakant Dharaskar, a second-year student of mechanical engineering at Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, jumped to his death on November 16, 2005
Vijay Nukala from IIT-Powai, Mumbai from finaly year Physics hung himself from the fan on November 16, 2005
I don't believe that the amount of pressure faced by the students is unbearable. If anything, the stress while preparing for the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) is much more. Any person who gets through the JEE can sail through the engineering programme with much ease. What is a cause of worry is the way a lot of students spend their free time these days. Instead of using time for recreation outdoors, many are glued to their computer sceen. This eventually affects the grades and piles up the stress. — Lalit Solanki

I wonder what’s all the talk about IIT students being overworked and stressed. Anyone who puts in a modest amount of effort can fare well in the exams. Even if you fail in a paper, you have ample of time to clear it. I think people who eventually get stressed out are the ones who get distracted mid-way. All you have to do is be regular with your studies, which is not asking for too much considering that IIT-Powai is one of the best institutes in the business. — Hemant Kumar

We must look closely before we accuse the IIT and its systems of murder. Often, the pressure comes from family and friends. Nevertheless, the institute has a fantastic support system should a problem arise. We usually discuss our problems with our seniors who guide us through. We also have faculty advisors who are specifically designated to solve our problems. They are very friendly and approachable and most of the issues get resolved once we talk it out with them. We have provisions for professional counselling, should all else fail. — Nitesh Gawali

I see no problem with the system which has been tried and tested for decades. This is the same system that has churned out geniuses time and again. I think the problem begins when people come in to the institute with vague assumptions and expectations. If you come in with the aim of learning, the institute has a tremendous amount to offer. Unfortunately, a few people see the IIT as a sophisticated employment bureau. They see this as a means to earn a lucrative job and this perspective can be hazardous. This tends to make people focus too much on the grades and they miss out on a lot of learning in the process. The IIT does expect a lot out of its students, but by no stretch of imagination is it unreasonable. There's no point blaming the system for everything that goes wrong. There may be a few drawbacks, but there seems to be no fundamental flaw in it. — Aditya Paranjape

A few people do complain about the stress they face in the IIT and that is only fair. However, there are many other ways to deal with the pressure than ending one's life. Low grades seems to be the prime source of stress. However, it would be unwise to attribute suicides to poor scores only. There is a combination of factors which include academic and personal which add up to the stress. A lot of students arrive with unreal expectations from the institute and the conflict between what they expect and what they face can lead to stress.

Different people react differently to stress and it is not always the system that's at fault. When you come in with the object of landing a job at the end of the fourth year, you tend to take it easy in the beginning.

Eventually, after three years you realise that you have learnt little and that can really stress you out. The system has worked over the years but it must keep evolving with time to deliver the best results. — Ashivni Shekhawas

7 - 2nd Dec 2005 - Mystery shrouds IIT-K student’s death- Source- Express India

Rao Jaswant Singh
Posted: Dec 02, 2005 at 1202 hrs IST



A day after his body was found near the institute’s academic block, mystery still shrouds the death of Swapnil Chandrakant Dharaskar, the 21-year-old Mechanical Engineering student of the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (IIT-K).
While the IIT administration declared it a suicide case, the police report, based on the post-mortem findings, do not support this theory. Even his parents, who arrived from Nagpur today, and his hostel mates found it improbable.

Swapnil’s father, Chandrakant Dharaskar, along with his wife and relatives reached the city today to claim his son’s body today. Talking to Express, he said he had visited Swapnil at IIT-K last month, from November 6-9.

Swapnil was very normal then, he said, adding, ‘‘I talked to him about his studies and other general topics. He did not appear tense.’’

Chandrakant said there was no reason for Swapnil to commit suicide. He said his son was very hard-working. He had secured 90 per cent marks in his Class XII examination and had cleared the IIT-JEE exam in his first attempt.

‘‘Swapnil had to come to Nagpur on the day he died,’’ he murmured, with tears in his eyes.

Police said they had found a letter in Swapnil’s room, written by his sister, advising him to concentrate on his studies and not worry about issues at home.

Meanwhile, Swapni’s roommate, Krishna Khandelwal, claimed that the deceased had seemed tense about his Chemistry paper which was held yesterday. ‘‘I had never seen him so worried before,’’ he added. Stating that Swapnil always completed his syllabus days before the exam, this time he could not do so. Amidst the unanswered questions, Swapnil’s body was cremated at Bithoor on Thursday.

6- 30th Nov 2005 - Stressed' IIT student commits suicide -Source- TOI

TNN, Nov 30, 2005, 11.55pm IST
 

KANPUR: Swapnil Chandrakant Dharaskar, a second-year student of mechanical engineering at Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, on Wednesday committed suicide barely half-an-hour before he was to appear for his chemistry second semester exam.

Though the cause of his death could not be ascertained, it appears as though Swapnil — Roll no: Y4137 — killed himself by jumping off a building.

His body was found by sweeper Ram Kishan outside the administrative office building — which is about 60 feet high — at 7.30 am.

IIT campus doctor Mamta Vyas, who initially examined the body, declared Chandrakant dead. Later Dr S N Bajpai and Dr Mumuksh Dixit, who conducted the autopsy, said Swapnil's right-side ribs and four teeth were broken and left leg was fractured, suggesting that he may have jumped or fallen from the top-storey of the building.

His viscera has been preserved for further forensic examinations, but circumstantial evidence suggests he might have committed suicide, sources said.

Soon after the news broke about Swapnil's death, IIT authorities sealed room number 203 of Hall-2 where the deceased used to reside and students were strictly told not to interact with the media.

Dean of Students Affairs (DOSA) Prawaal Sinha said the real cause of death could be ascertained only after forensic reports were received.

But he said the student might have committed suicide due to stress. "IIT exams are undoubtedly stressful and the boy might have committed suicide due to the same reason," he said.

Sinha also added that hardly half-an-hour before the incident, the boy had spoken to his Nagpur-based father Chandrakant Dharaskar at length and apprised him about his examinations and was scheduled to go home on December 4 and return on December 24.

5 - 22nd Nov 2005 - Suicide at IIT Bombay

Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Suicide at IIT Bombay.
 

A very disturbing news has reached me - a 4th year student at IIT Bombay committed suicide after getting XX grades in three courses. XX is awarded when your attendance falls short. The news reached me via various IITB mailing groups, a bit of googling lead me to this TOI report. Excerpts -

Last week, fourth-year physics student Vijay Nukala, known on the campus as 'Nuke', committed suicide after being failed in three courses because of poor attendance. Regarded by all as the campus' networking wizard, Nukala had not scored high enough marks in his IIT-JEE entrance to get into computer engineering, his first love. Nukala had to make a presentation on the first stage of his project report the day he hanged himself in his room. His professors were aware of the stress the boy was under-as a precaution, they had asked his father to be in Mumbai last week.
This is definitely very sad but still worse is the attitude of admin@iitb. The mailing groups are circulating an email, supposed to be written by Sharmila, a professor at the humanities department. The content of the email -
A student dies under tragic circumstances on the 16th and we greet it with silence. There is no official announcement. No postings in IIT-general, in IIT-discuss, in discuss-faculty. No condolence meeting.

Any question we ask into this silence runs the danger of sounding melodramatic. And of disrupting the professionalism with which we go about the business of exams and evaluations. But let us run that risk. Was this boys life so dispensable, so forgettable that we do not even want to mourn him? Is ANY life dispensable?

When Bombay drowned earlier this year we as an institution looked the other way for the most part. (True, there were a few students who got together and organized relief work on the strength of their own will, but as an institution our only response was silence.) It could be argued that we cannot respond to every issue and tragedy out there. But this student was one of our own. I do not know why he felt so alone and lost that he thought he should end his life. We need to recognize however that by doing so he sent us a vote of no confidence. He told us that we, as an institution and as people he knew, did not offer him hope. This is a terrible indictment.

What is to be done? I do not quite know. But surely we need to mourn him. We do not seem to have paid him enough attention when he was alive. Surely we cannot ignore his death as well? We need to also actively explore ways in which we can establish support groups at all levels in hostels, departments. These have to be professional(from what I can gather we have one counselor for so many, many students and staff) and personal. From conversations I have had since yesterday I hear that there have been other attempts, that depression and stress is more present than one imagines. That students have dropped out of courses (at least one student has left this institution because he was maligned for his sexualitygood grief!). That students die in different ways. I do not of course know how to deal with all these issues. But I strongly think that it is not by institutional(ised) silence.

sharmila
 

I don't know her personally and I can't vouch for the fact that it was she who penned it down, but I agree with each and every word above. We've two equally serious issues here - 
1) the suicide and the events which depressed the young man to such levels  and

2) the apathy shown by the IIT by not even acknowledging the disturbing event (as per the mail above).

As per this Mid-day report suggests, the stress in schools has risen to killing levels. The stress on an IITian can get even worse. Back at home they are hailed as if they came down from planet Krypton. Parents, relatives & peers expect them to keep outperforming just as they did in school or in IIT-JEE exam, what they don't consider that here the competition is many times tougher. Such expectations put a student under immense stress. For most of the students in IITs, IIT is the first place where they are challenged academically. Till then, during school, they were among the toppers - without breaking a sweat. But forced to work hard by the raised bar & dropping down to the lower half of the class can be a worry. I've seen all kinds of responses to this new challenge students face - some plainly give up, some take up the gauntlet and study harder. As such a semester can be stressful but an XX grade can be even worse. Typically it means that the student must take the classes again next year with junior students. It can cost one the jobs s/he might have bagged during campus placements, if awarded in the final year. Same thing might have led Nakula to this tragic decision. This isn't the first suicide at the campus, last year a girl student from hostel 10 killed herself and I've heard that there were few more attempts this year. Here I would like to state what one friend told me once - "When we look back at times when we were in trouble, those troubles look quite modest in the hindsight. That should teach us how to deal with problems & problematic times." My final year project was extended and I was supposed to stay there in summer and complete it, I was the last one to get a job in our batch - still when I look back now, all I remember is the good times Dev, Pankaj and me had in the lab that summer. I'm very sure if Nakula had waited and thought over the situation, he too would've came out of this mess. We've had some examples and all of them are doing good.

One trend that concerns me is the rise computer usage in IIT. I've witnessed the internet being brought to IIT Bombay. When we were in the first year, the net speed was just a little more than a crawl. Very few students had computers in their rooms, the computer center was the main resource center available to student to work on their projects and reports. Of course we CSE guys had separate labs in our department too, but the speed was not any better there. I remember when I bought a computer in my second year, we contributed money to the wing-router-fund which was utilized to buy a hub and students did the networking to get their machines on the LAN. In my third year every single room was provided an internet plug, the institute paid for the infrastructure. Additional bandwidth was bought and the net speed went zoom. In our fourth year the number of computers in a hostel were almost tripled when compared to the second year. According to the TOI report -
Students and faculty members admit that all-night (and sometimes 24/7) hacking competitions, gaming competitions, music downloading and file-sharing, chatting and blogging are taking a heavy toll at the elite campus-affecting attendance, grades and even personal lives. IIT-B authorities are now forced to admit that it's a problem. "It's a very big problem. For the last one or two years we've been seeing these guys sleep off in class or be present physically but not mentally. But now they're even not showing up for cultural activities or on the playing field,'' said Gopalan.
A loner in campus would've sounded like an oxymoron in our times, but it seems to be a matter of concern now. A pep-talk by a close friend might have saved Nakula's life.

Finally, the refusal of IIT authorities to take this issue up for discussion is baffling. They can't just brush it under the carpet. It is a very serious issue and has already taken lives. Authorities must come up with some solution for reducing the stress levels. While it depends on the individual for the most part how s/he deals with the stress, some counseling by peers and professors can help. Incidentally, IITB has one full-time counselor for students, two psychiatrists and one psychologist attached to the IIT Hospital, how easily reachable they were is another question. I understand that perhaps the family too didn't want much publicity about this unfortunate incident, neither did IIT. But the issue remains, they have to first acknowledge the problem to come up with a solution.

4-21st Nov 2005 – Did the system Kill IITians ?-Source- Hindustn Times

Did the system kill IIT-ian? by Anjali Doshi
Mumbai, November 21, 2005



About a week before he committed suicide last Wednesday, Vijay Nukala (22) got the worst news of his life: he would have to repeat a year at IIT. It wasn't because the final year engineering physics student wasn't good enough academically — it was because of the letters XX marked against his name.

Last year, the authorities at IIT, Powai, became extremely strict about enforcing a rule that meant final year students with less than 80 per cent attendance would be failed regardless of how they fared at the examinations at the end of a 16-week semester. In fact, they are not allowed to sit for the exams if there is a shortfall in attendance. And their names carry the XX appendage: two seemingly innocuous letters that translate to one lost year in a student's life.

But for Nukala, that wasn't all. Although he majored in engineering
physics, computers were always his first love: he was recognised as the presiding geek at Powai, inventor of the campus' most widely used intranet system, 'Umang'. But the computer science project he had to present last Wednesday as part of his BTech coursework wasn't up to scratch, according to his professor, say Vijay's friends.

Burdened already with the prospect of another year on campus, this
proved to be the final straw for Nukala. He never turned up for the presentation. He was found hanging from the fan in his hostel room in the evening, clutching his cellphone. Nobody is sure whom he made the final phone call to.

Most students HT spoke to are highly critical of the XX system, which came into being, according to faculty members, because IIT-ians were "spending too much time on the internet and the intranet." Faculty members say that attendance is often poor at lectures, which begin at 8.30 am, because students are up all night surfing the net in their rooms.

It was Nukala who had a year ago devised 'Umang,' the intranet service that practically all students on campus use to share software. Although a low rank in the joint entrance exam forced him into engineering physics, even computer science students acknowledged his talent in their field.

But faculty advisors repeatedly told Nukala that he should focus on his academic subject rather than his subject of interest. "Once he
graduated, he could have easily have pursued information technology," said a faculty member.

3-12th Jan 2005 - Stress leads to student suicide?-Source-Sulekha

started by Ray-Barone 5 yrs ago
IIT-K~student~commits~suicide


"According to Shailesh’s batchmates, he had failed in advanced thermodynamics for third time in a row and had shared his failure and acute distress with his classmates. "On Tuesday, he came to know about his failure and was quite depressed. Today he committed suicide after having lunch with us," said a student, who was with Shailesh minutes before he ended his life.

"Though we can’t draw any conclusion, it is true that he had done badly in two courses. This might be the reason behind the incident," said dean of students affairs (DOSA) Prawaal Sinha. Sinha said that the body had been sent for postmortem and parents of the deceased had been informed about the incident. 

What is more interesting in that article is the claim that 5 students have committed suicide at IITK since 1981.What crap! Clearly they are ignoring some deaths in these 25 years as well as all those suicide attempts that happen every year. At least I am aware of 6 suicide cases that happened during my time in the early 90s. 

IIT-Kanpur probably has the highest academic pressure - their grading system is also very harsh (A-10, B-8, C-6, D-4 and F-0) - so if you drop one grade below, your CPI (CGPA at IITM) gets a big hit. And students who get mostly D's and F's would get into academic probabation - they are given a reduced workload and are constantly monitored - many students consider being on AP as a humiliation and an insult to their intelligence.

IIT Kanpur is also famous for their quizzes and tests - unlike in IIT Madras (and maybe other IITs) IIT Kanpur profs take snap quizzes and surprise quizzes, regular quizzes during the course. This is in addition to the mid-sem tests. The mid-sem tests are usually the days when you will find the hostel atmosphere highly charged. 

Students burn the midnight oil and are seen scampering around to get doubts cleared or questions answered by the fundus of the class. All this is in addition to assignments, take home tests and the weird end sem exams where profs pride in giving timeless exams, take home exams, or exams where the question paper is given to the students a day before the actual test. You will have to work the problems out before coming to the test. And due to competition, not much gets shared. 

Thermodynamics - ah! I remember - this is a course during the first couple of semesters and (not sure if it is mandatory for Chemca) but not a useful course for students in my program. We had to go thru it and the profs usually rush thru the syllabus. There were usually 100 students in a class and the prof cannot provide individual attention. 

Assignments were evaluated by the Tutorial assistants and sometimes even the test papers. Problems were also solved by these guys in the class once a week. The prof would only teach. The objective for us would be to scrape thru - and if lucky or really good - to get a good grade.The system at IITK is very unforgiving. And it can take a toll on the students who are either weak or who do not work hard. And professors are also known to hand out F-ka without getting affected by student sentiments.Thought in all these years, things would have changed. No - it does not seem to have.
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batataburger posted Re: 
Stress leads to student suicide? on 5 yrs ago
: IIT Kanpur is also famous for their quizzes and tests - unlike in IIT Madras (and maybe other IITs) IIT Kanpur profs take snap quizzes and surprise quizzes, regular quizzes during the course. This is in addition to the mid-sem tests. The mid-sem tests are usually the days when you will find the hostel atmosphere highly charged. Students burn the midnight oil and are seen scampering around to get doubts cleared or questions answered by the fundus of the class.Surprise quizes, assignments and mid-sems are good as the grading gets distributed and doing badly in any particular mid-sem or quizes doesn't hurt to the final grades for the semester.
ReplyReport Abuse

lucent posted 

Re: [drop the K] Stress leads to student suicide? on 5 yrs ago
I agree that the grading system at IITs needs an overhaul. 


On one extreme, you have elite Asian schools where teachers set their own expectations and take pride in discrimination (as in separating the class into different grade buckets as finely as possible). Some even adopt a sadist attitude: “To get a B (average grade) in my class, you have to be really, really good.” Once a student drops the ball, there is little incentive to improve as the system is very unforgiving. 

On the other extreme, you have elite American schools where administrators react to student expectations and encourage grade inflation. Many teachers view grading as a popularity contest – the more As and A+s you dole out, the better your ratings will be. Students have little incentive to perform. (See a href= "http://chronicle.com/free/v47/i30/30b02401.htm"Grade Inflation: It's Time to Face the Facts/a, by Harvey C. Mansfield, Professor, Harvard University)

Common sense suggests that there should be a happy middle – a system where grades faithfully reflect the student’s standing, but in a manner that isn’t cruel or dehumanizing. Another alternative is to not release the grades to external parties (employers, graduate schools) and rely on a three-tier system (Divisions I, II and III). Regardless of what the system is, it should motivate the students to perform throughout their time in college. 

Other comments: 
1. Drop the K. All IITs (at least the original ones: KGP, B, M, D & K) have their share of sadist profs, tough courses, and tough tests. Nothing unique about K. :)

2. What gave you the idea that being on AP is humiliation for many students? I am sure there are a few who get depressed, but most get used to it. Some even celebrate it. Many underperformers (five and six pointers) become successful in life. They often redeem themselves at IIMs or US schools and take up highflying jobs. Some nine pointers on the other hand continue to slog through their careers and become cogs in a wheel. 

3. It is unusual to fail a course thrice. If it is a sadist prof, the entire class underperforms and many fail. However, if one person is failing multiple times, there is something wrong with his approach.

4. As for people committing suicides, it would be interesting to find out how many of them were from reserved categories. Sometimes those outliers can distort the numbers. Nevertheless, one has to realize that no system is perfect, and there will always be people who buckle under pressure.
  

Ray-Barone posted 
Re: [drop the K] Stress leads to student suicide? on 5 yrs ago
I agree - heard of horror stories at IITM Electrical dept. as well.But in general I found IITM to be much more relaxed than IITK. Also, the grading of S (10),A (9),B (8),C (7),D (6),E (5),U really helped reduce the stress. Especially if you aim at more than 9/10.: 1. Drop the K. All IITs (at least the original ones: KGP, B, M, D & K) have their share of sadist profs, tough courses, and tough tests. Nothing unique about K. :)Not that IITK is unique - just that in my experience, IITK has a horrible academic env. It can do only two extremes - motivaate to a very big high - or can kill any aspiration of learning.And definitely, IITK is not a place where you can enjoy your education. Too much stress. Maybe this bit is true of all IITs.: 


2. What gave you the idea that being on AP is humiliation for many students? I am sure there are a few who get depressed, but most get used to it. Some even celebrate it. Many underperformers (five and six pointers) become successful in life. They often redeem themselves at IIMs or US schools and take up highflying jobs. Some nine pointers on the other hand continue to slog through their careers and become cogs in a wheel. Oh - guys who enjoyed AP were those who had given up. Those who aspired for higher education, used to get overly stressed up - and AP would also mean an additional semester or two. MAkes it worse.: 3. It is unusual to fail a course thrice. If it is a sadist prof, the entire class underperforms and many fail. However, if one person is failing multiple times, there is something wrong with his approach. I agree. Not sure about the quota part - I have know one guy who was not from quota but who failed in Operations Research (of all papers) many many times before he finally cleared it because it was handled by a different prof. :): 4. As for people committing suicides, it would be interesting to find out how many of them were from reserved categories. Sometimes those outliers can distort the numbers. Nevertheless, one has to realize that no system is perfect, and there will always be people who buckle under pressure. The cases I know - none were from reserved category.

batataburger posted 

Re: [drop the K] Stress leads to student suicide? on 5 yrs ago
:I agree that the grading system at IITs needs an overhaul. On one extreme, you have elite Asian schools where teachers set their own expectations and take pride in discrimination (as in separating the class into different grade buckets as finely as possible). Some even adopt a sadist attitude: “To get a B (average grade) in my class, you have to be really, really good.” Once a student drops the ball, there is little incentive to improve as the system is very unforgiving.At least in the Indian educational settings you see two kinds of teachers. One who test students for what they don't or may not know, by trying to give toughest problems and then those who test students for what they are suppose to know. It is the latter approach that creates healthy academic environment. : 4. As for people committing suicides, it would be interesting to find out how many of them were from reserved categories. Sometimes those outliers can distort the numbers. Nevertheless, one has to realize that no system is perfect, and there will always be people who buckle under pressure. *Laughing*. A person's ability to withstand setbacks/failures has very little to do with their caste. Sucide and sucide attempts on IIT campus or any other elite campuses, are known to happen almost every year. I am sure even on lesser campuses they happen, however it is easier to see why after getting selected to an elite institute, a failure can break self esteem leading to sucide or attempts.

2-15th April 2004 - IIT student was murdered'

TNN, Apr 15, 2004, 04.57pm IST

KOLKATA: Third year electronics engineering student from IIT Kharagpur, Nishit Karwa did not commit suicide on Monday but was murdered, alleged his father, HP Karwa. Newspaper reports said that Nishit was found hanging in his hostel room (C-215 of Nehru Hall) on Tuesday.

The institute and the police have both said that Nishit had committed suicide because he was depressed from an "affair" that he was having with a girl from the city.

Karwa called a press conference on Thursday to complain that the institute was trying to hush up the issue by calling it a suicide when all the clues at the campus pointed at murder. "I demand justice. I want a high level inquiry. They just cannot shut it up by putting the blame of suicide on my son's shoulders!" a weeping Karwa told reporters, adding that Nishit was his only son.

Karwa stressed that Nishit was a brilliant student who scored 99 per cent marks in his CBSE XII examination. In IIT Kharagpur too he was known for his academic prowess and was specially interested in robotics that won him the coveted first prize in Yantriki (robotics) competition amongst all IITs. He was also a promising guitar player and won the gold medal in the institute's own music competition this year.

"The institute showed me print-outs of a chat session of Nishit and the girl in question. I know about this girl because she was Nishit's friend. He had no special relationship with her and the print outs clearly show that these were friendly messages. There's nothing to prove that they were in love etc. Moreover, would never have minded if Nishit got himself a girlfriend or wanted to marry someone," Karwa emphasised.

In his effort to establish the murder Karwa said, "I was shown an iron grill from where Nishit had hanged himself. The grill is situated at about the same height as my son's, who was six feet tall. The room also has a fan, why didn't he hang himself from there?" asked Karwa.

"Moreover, I got to know from some of his friends that the door was not locked from inside when the body was discovered," Karwa added.

Karwa complained that he was not allowed to see the body of his son before it was sent for postmortem, though he was present there. "I demanded that a medical board be set up, but to no avail. The institute authorities told me that a doctor was being sent from Midnapur town. But when I tried to meet him I was told, he has already left," Karwa added.

He quashed the theory that Nishit was depressed. "You can ask any of his friends in the institute or in IIT Powai and Delhi where he was equally popular, as to how happy a person he was," Karwa challenged adding that theirs was an affluent family and financial problems also did not worry Nishit.

Karwa also complained that the death certificate of the boy has not been handed over to him. He however revealed that Nishit's relation had strained with his music group of late.

IIT Kharagpur director, S.K. Dubey reacted sharply at the blame that the institute is trying to hush up the case, "why should we? We have handed the matter to the police for investigation and the institute is extending all its support. Even we need to know what went wrong. The door of the boy's room was locked from inside and had to be broken open, this has been established."

1- 27th Nov 2003 - Suicide at IIT - Source - The Hindu

Sir, — The story of a girl student committing suicide at the IIT, Mumbai makes sad reading. Monetary and academic pressures took their toll. Merely passing an entrance examination does not mean a student is ready for the rigours of life in the IITs. It is not for the weak-willed.

The students must be adequately counselled by the Directors of the IITs and their parents/guardians for the "ordeal" ahead.

Geraldine H,
Mumbai