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Thursday, June 16, 2011

92- 3oth Nov 2010 - IIT-K witnessed 8 suicides in 5 years-Hindustan Times

She was bright. She was in her fourth year of Civil Engineering at IIT-Kanpur. But four days after celebrating her birthday on November 14, 21-year-old Madhuri Sale hanged herself to death, leaving the IIT-K fraternity shell-shocked.
“ She did not suffer from any mental disorder,” said a leading psychiatrist of Kanpur, whom students throng looking for answers to anxiety, peer and parent pressure, depression and loneliness to which the ‘technology’ has no answer.
Ask the professors and pat comes the reply. “It’s the technology that’s killing. Whole night they are on the computers—researching! Their performance dips, and parental- peer pressure eventually consumes take lives.”
What a pity! Slogging the whole of three years – from 10th to 12th, only to commit suicide. And why? Once they have entered IIT, their future is secured. A job is waiting for them before they step out of the campus. And still preferring death to life. As it has been reported, this was not an isolated incident: Eight students in five years have kissed death at IIT-K alone.
The IIT administration now plans to remove the ceiling fans as in five of the eight cases, the students had hanged themselves to death. But can it prevent suicides? Perhaps not as those who are determined to end their lives would find other ways of doing it—and various websites give you loads of information on ways to commit painless suicide.
May be the decision to stop allotting single rooms in hostels may help!
I am again reminded of sessions that were held in IIT’s across the state by Prof Debasish Chatterjee, now director of IIM, Kozhikodi. In one such session in Mumbai, he had asked students, what is life for besides livelihood? The brainos had scratched their heads to find an answer. As they fumbled with words, he gave a simple two-word reply, ‘Living fully.’ Students were flummoxed when he asked, “Should we go abroad or serve the nation?” Debasish then simply replied, “It’s better to have brain drain than having brain in the drain.”
Debasish had later told me that the ‘Break Free’ sessions were meant to encourage students to discover ‘self’ and ‘de-stress’ from mental pressures.
After all one has to lead self before leading others, the sole ambition of the IITians. And here they are leading themselves to suicide. Perhaps Debasish was right when he said, leaders can’t be made or born, they are discovered, as leadership cannot be a part of a conventional curriculum. It is determined by situations and not from learning. But can Break Free be a one-time lesson? Perhaps not! It has to be a continuous journey if we have to check students from short-circuiting their lives.