Ever-increasing suicides among students in Rajasthan’s Kota town and elsewhere in the country once again brought to the debating table over who to blame for pressuring children – mushrooming coaching centres or parents? As many as 20 students have reportedly committed suicide in Kota alone during the last eight months, which is a cause for concern. According to news reports, over the past few years several students ended their lives due to mounting pressure over studies and their fear of failure. Last year as many as 15 students committed suicide in Kota. The government’s inaction and the Opposition’s criticism of some connivance of several well-established coaching centres that are training students to prepare for all-India competitions like Joint Entrance Examination, National Eligibility cum Entrance Trust or Civils are allegedly draining out or putting undue pressures on youngsters. This was due to upkeep their reputations or set new records of student successes from their centres. Hence, this is not an issue concerning Kota alone, but the entire nation as well as those who are engaged in the commercialization of education and over-ambitious parents. The educational institutions are exploiting the gullible parents, who want their lads to become doctors, engineers, chartered accountants or civil servants without knowing the interest of their children. In tune with fulfilling the aspirations of the parents, even the educational institutions design their teaching methods, however tough or strenuous they may be on the student community. For these so-called coaching centres, it has become a challenge to ensure even dud and uninterested students to put up better performances, as it was the desire of their parents. To compensate for their challenge they collect huge fees and try out all methods to thrust upon their designed manuals, knowing well that some of their students cannot cope. As a result, some of those students who get sandwiched between their demanding parents and the pressuring coaching centre faculty, take the extreme step of ending their lives.
Suicide among the student community is not new ever since the introduction of common entrance examinations for several professional courses, which ensure better personal and economic prospects. However, such competitions were only confined to the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) to pick up the best brains for all-India services like the administrative (IAS), law and order (IPS) or Revenue (IRS) to name a few. Apart from this, the other major all India common competitive exams were for the engineering courses at the Indian Institute of Technologies (IIT). But, the states, not to fall back, appear to have created an alternative for those students who failed to crack these Central services or high-competition technical graduate and post-graduate courses through IIT exams, by setting up their own Public Service Commissions and also parallel educational institutions. And the problem of over-ambitious parents pressurising their lads to pursue these professional courses to establish a lucrative future appears to have spread to central competitive examinations, for which takers were very few in the past. That number has multiplied over the years. Justifiably so. Every parent – rich or poor – would dream of seeing their children lead a better life than themselves. As a result, the competition shot up to get admission into these professional courses by cracking the designed entrance examinations which became mandatory. This led to some genuine as well as greedy academicians setting up coaching centers to train the aspiring students community to crack these competitive exams. Their numbers multiplied over the years and this lucrative business also attracted yet again some genuine as well as greedy political class to make a fast buck. For them obtaining licences to set up these coaching centres on benami names as well as manipulating results, become a lucrative side business. This is evident from the available data where a good number of influential and rich politicians own professional colleges. Against that backdrop, the time has come for the Centre to chalk out a new national educational policy. Although the Narendra Modi-headed National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre had rolled out a new national education policy, it instead of addressing this menace, appears to have restricted its role to only looking at history pages, which stirred a political slugfest. This problem, which just not confined to Kota, is also occurring in other parts of the country, including some southern states like Karnataka and the two Telugu states – Andhra Pradesh and Telangana – which boast of producing maximum number of professionals of IT and medicine, besides other streams, had also passed through these suicides phase among student community in their pursuit to crack competitive exams in various coach centres. Hence, it is the responsibility of the Centre to frame guidelines for these coaching centres that are preparing students for these competitive examinations and to ensure that the framed new rules are followed in letter and spirit. A law may be enacted to prevent officials’ indulgence in this greedy act. Of course, the over-ambitious parents too may be held responsible for driving their wards to takes such extreme steps.