“Even after all the studies, I wouldn’t be able to succeed,” wrote Anjali Anand in her suicide note. Anand, 18, hanged herself from a window grill using her dupatta in Kota, Rajasthan. She wrote that she was sorry she couldn’t fulfil her parents’ expectations.
“I am under a lot of pressure, everyone says I need to get at least 70% marks, I can’t let Papa’s money go waste.” These were Sarthak Yadav’s last words before the 17-year-old hanged himself in his maternal grandparents’ house in Talwandi area of Kota. They weren’t alone. Around 30 students in pursuit of fulfilling their dreams to become an engineer or a doctor ended their lives.
After a series of student suicides in Kota, the coaching hub of the country, the focus has shifted to the pressure students face while preparing for entrance exams to engineering or medical schools. It is believed that often students give up on life because of parental pressure and inability to meet their expectations.
So, what do parents have to say about the issue? Most of them say long hours of study and competitive exams take toll on youngsters. They also complain about the lack of regular monitoring of how students are performing, mentally and physically.
“I never put pressure on my children. They are intelligent enough to know what to do and what not to. Students need guidance, not pressure. Such incidents happen due to peer pressure and the inability to cope with stress. To deal with this issue, regular counselling is a must,” says Shashindra Tripathi, an advocate.
Some believe that the Indian education system is to be blamed. “After so much hard work my daughter doesn’t get the results she expects. Students are prescribed NCERT books in schools but exam papers are not prepared from these books. Every now and then my daughter complains that the question paper was out of syllabus,” says Mercy Paulose, who works in an exports company.
Fearing similar consequences that their children will commit suicide, a number of parents have dropped the idea of sending their children out of town for coaching. “I have heard that living conditions are not so good in these coaching institutes and teachers put a lot of pressure on the students. I’d rather keep my child alive than force him to become an engineer or a doctor and go through physical and emotional exhaustion. There are many other options besides engineering and medical,” says a parent.
Reiterating the same, Paulose says, “No degree is more important than my child’s life. But if my child wants to go to Kota to attend coaching classes, then I will support her. I am confident that my child will never take such a step. In case, she feels burned out, then she can always come back home.”