[27 March 2024] The Hindu Op-ed: A cry for help, a call for reflection and action

PYQ Relevance:


Q) The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 remains inadequate in promoting an incentive-based system for children’s education without generating awareness about the importance of schooling. Analyse. (UPSC IAS/2022) 

Q) Professor Amartya Sen has advocated important reforms in the realms of primary education and primary health care. What are your suggestions to improve their status and performance? (UPSC IAS/2016) 


Prelims: NA;

Mains: Governance; Education;

Mentor comments: In contemporary Indian society, there is a noticeable shift in family structures with a weakening of crucial connections between children and their families. This in turn impacts a child’s ability to engage with their society and environment. The unyielding quest for scholastic distinction often overshadows the social facets of a student’s existence, driving them to sacrifice interpersonal bonds and pursuits that are essential for a well-rounded persona. It is disconcerting to find young students voicing their inner turmoil on social media, signaling distress which ultimately increases suicidal cases as highlighted by the NCRB Report.

Let’s learn. 

Why in the News?

The unyielding quest presents the issue with educational systems often cause many an Indian student to go into a spiral, with tragic outcomes.

  • The transformation of socio-economic dynamics is not only instilling a sense of despondency among youth but is also becoming a cause for stress in their academic endeavors.
What does the Recent Report say?

In 2022, according to data in the “Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India 2022” report by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), over 13,044 Indian students ended their lives — 7.6% of the total suicide fatalities in that year. 
In 2023, there were reports of youngsters preparing for various competitive exams in Kota ending their lives.
Based on police records, 15 students faded away in 2022; 18 in 2019, and 20 in 2018. 

Coaching Industry and Governance in Kota:

  • Every year, over 2,00,000 aspirants from every corner of India flock to Kota in pursuit of ‘academic excellence’, to prepare rigorously for ‘coveted’ entrance examinations such as the JEE and the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET).
  • The number of suicides (students) rose from 10,335 in 2019, to 12,526 in 2020, to 13,089 in 2021. As in NCRB data (2018), nearly 95,000 students faded away between 2007-18.

Preventive Measures Taken by Local Institutes and Governance:

  • By Local Institutes in Kota:
    • Hostels have been equipped with ‘anti-suicide features’ that include devices fixed to ceiling fans to prevent children from harming themselves and iron grills across balconies and passageways. 
    • In the push towards professional development, there is specialized training in mess administration, psychological support, behavioral counseling, and an emphasis on overall student welfare. 
  • By Local Government in Kota:
    • The local government has stopped all routine testing in coaching institutes for over two months as a temporary measure. 
    • The Kota police have pushed hostel wardens to become more proactive by endorsing campaigns such as “Knock on the Door.” At the same time, kitchen workers and meal service providers have been encouraged to alert authorities immediately if they notice students missing their meals or leaving their food untouched.

Challenges wrt. present Educational purveyors and Social Facets in India:

  • Intense Competitions: India with an increase in Population, lacks the generation of suitable job opportunities, moreover, a limited number of seats in government institutions, and the high fees charges in private institutions have all created a climate where there is intense competition. 
  • Social and Family Expectations: The relentless strain of competition plays on the young student, which is made worse by the pressures imposed on the child by parents without understanding their child’s wishes. Many face harsh criticism for failing to ‘meet expectations’. 
  • Lack of Government Interventions: According to the All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) report (2019-20), only 21.4% of colleges are under governmental administration, with 78.6% under private entities (as reported by the Union Education Ministry). 
  • Poverty Issue: A study in 2008 in The Lancet revealed that nearly 61% of global suicide fatalities were concentrated in Asia. Numerous families in India, face financial constraints that prevent them from providing their children with supplementary educational resources such as coaching and tuition. 
  • Lack of support from faculties: There are numerous instances of faculty members in institutions often chastising students for their subpar academic performance when they should be offering encouragement and assistance instead.

Way Forward:

  • Building a welfare environment: Creating an atmosphere of empathy and acceptance is crucial to cancel out any potential negative consequences for our younger generation.
  • Discovering the unyielding quest: The unsolvable puzzle for scholastic distinction often overshadows the social facets of a student’s existence, driving them to sacrifice interpersonal bonds and pursuits that are essential for a well-rounded persona. This needs to be worked upon.
  • Investing in Social Infrastructure: Moreover, pupils from socioeconomically underserved communities are confronted with the stark actualities of endemic discrimination, thereby intensifying their hardships. So, there is an urgent need for our social infrastructure to grow more supportive and accommodative and support these young lives.


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