From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : NA
Mains level : Addressing the issues of Students pressure, suicides, reasons and way ahead
- Three students committed suicide within 12 hours in Rajasthan’s Kota, which is regarded as the education and coaching hub of India. Known for producing IITians, doctors and engineers, Kota has been in the news for the last few years because of the students’ suicides and depression they suffer.
What is Suicide?
- Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one’s own death.
- Mental and physical disorders, substance abuse, anxiety and depression are risk factors.
- Some suicides are impulsive acts due to stress (such as from financial or academic difficulties), relationship problems (such as breakups or divorces), or harassment and bullying.
- Despite being entirely preventable, India has been increasingly losing individuals to suicide.
The National Crime Records Bureau’s Accidental Deaths and Suicide in India report 2021.
- The report released this year shows that the number of students’ deaths by suicide rose by 4.5 per cent in 2021.
- Maharashtra bearing the highest toll with 1,834 deaths, followed by Madhya Pradesh with 1,308, and Tamil Nadu with 1,246.
- According to the report, student suicides have been rising steadily for the last five years.
- According to a 2012 Lancet report, suicide rates in India are highest in the 15-29 age group the youth population.
- According to the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB), in 2020, a student took their own life every 42 minutes; that is, every day, more than 34 students died by suicide.
What are the reasons behind these alarming stats of student’s suicide in India?
- Education is for livelihood more than knowledge: Education in India has been viewed as a gateway to employment and livelihood rather than to knowledge.
- Pressure to get into government jobs or highly paid private sector: Many students and their families dream of the coveted ‘sarkari naukri’ (government job) to escape the precarious social, caste and class predicaments they find themselves in.
- Limited educational infrastructure: The failure of the Union government to improve the country’s educational infrastructure means that exam-oriented coaching had become the norm.
- Coaching centres as prisons for many students: Cashing in on the ‘hope for a better future,’ coaching centres emerged as one of the predominant industries in the education sector. However, these centres are now being seen as prisons for the many youngsters who join them; where their bodies, souls and dreams are tamed.
- Number of factors marginalising students who are already vulnerable: Students from marginalised sections are pushed further to the margins through a number of factors, such as the lack of English-medium education; private institutions charging high fees; poor quality education in government-run schools and institutes; ever-growing economic inequality; graduates not having the adequate skills to secure jobs; and caste discrimination.
- Social ideology of success and failure: The rise of neoliberalism as an economic and social ideology has pushed the youth to blame themselves for their failure to secure their ‘dream job’ while the government continues to shirk its basic responsibility.
- Flawed neoliberal agenda for failure and success: The neo-liberal agenda keeps propagating the belief that it is not that hard to find success if one works hard enough, normalising the notion that the youth should blame themselves for their ‘failures’.
What are various solutions have been proposed?
- The myth of the Indian family being supportive also need to be called out: Family, being the primary social unit of the society, shapes the aspirations and dreams of the youth. Family should be supportive in true sense.
- Deeper introspection is needed instead of make shift solutions: Deeper introspection on structural aspects of the education system is the need of the hour. Instead, we take pride in coming up with Jugaad (makeshift solutions) to manage affairs peripherally, without dealing with the root of problem.
- Easing pressure in the students: Others have suggested like the guidelines issued by the Board of Intermediate Education in Andhra Pradesh in 2017 to ease the pressure on students, including yoga and physical exercise classes and maintaining a healthy student-teacher ratio.
- Realising today’s realities and making changes: It is painfully evident that the failure to address the larger issue of a punishing education system that is simply not designed to support young minds or prepare them for today’s economic realities continues.
- Collective responsibility: Not only family plays a significant role in students life, even the society has a huge influence. We as a society should realise true essence of life and not confine students into success and failure tags. Instead support them empathically in realising their true potential.
Did you know this solution? What any sensitive person will think of this?
- Some suggested bordering on the ludicrous, like the Indian Institute of Science’s reported move last year to replace ceiling fans in hostel rooms with those that are wall-mounted.
- Scholars have long linked farmers’ suicides to India’s agrarian crisis; it is time that civil society starts looking at students’ suicides as an indicator of a grave crisis of the country’s educational structure, including the institutional structure, curriculum, and the like. The combination of a large population of young people with rising aspirations and an economy with shrinking opportunities has created a public health crisis that requires urgent attention.
Q. There has been a steady increase in student suicides in India over the past few years. What are the reasons and suggest what should be done?
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