IIT council meets to discuss system overhaul plan. The unsettling trend of suicides at the IITs seems to have turned even bigger in 2011.
This year, to date, the IITs have already witnessed seven suicides, with two taking place just last week. This is the highest figure reported in the past four years.
The numbers, according to the IIT fraternity, cannot be dismissed as an aberration and could now figure on the agenda of the upcoming IIT council meeting scheduled in the Capital on September 14.
"An IIT director has requested the human resource development ministry to put the issue of increasing suicides on the agenda of the council meeting. I think this will be taken up (during the meeting)," an IIT director, who did not wish to be identified, said.
The council is the highest decision making body of the IITs and is headed by HRD minister Kapil Sibal.
According to the data provided by the HRD ministry in the ongoing session of the Lok Sabha, IITs reported two suicide cases in 2010, four in 2009 and five in 2008. But this year, the figure has touched a new high and already stands at seven.
Internal inquiry committees set up by various IITs have found depression, academic load, peer pressure, including pressure from family to perform, as primary reasons that compel some of the IIT students to take the extreme step.
“We are all very concerned about what is happening. Though there are number of factors that are responsible for academically linked suicides at IITs, these can be curbed by systemic reforms.
The council is not an insensitive body and I am sure some of these reforms will come up for discussion at the meeting," IIT Kanpur director Sanjay Dhande said.
Reducing pressure associated with the entrance examination, providing students with a wider variety of papers and courses to choose from and allowing them to complete the engineering programme at a more relaxed pace are some of the reforms that Dhande thinks could help lessen the academic load on IIT students.
"The IITs can no longer remain technical shops. It’s time that they are turned into universities that teach all subjects. This will enable students to study a unique combination of subjects and they won’t feel as constrained and pressured as they do. This was a recommendation made by our committee as well," former UGC chairman Professor Yash Pal said.
Though suicides at IITs is not a new phenomenon, the increasing number of extremely bright students resorting to such a step has left the fraternity and directors quite baffled. Leading researcher and former IIT faculty member Goverdhan Mehta attributes this to a change in the mindset of the new generation.
"Youngsters these days have grown very ambitious. While this quality has its advantages, it also makes it more difficult for students to accept any kind of disappointment," he said.
Y Sweeya (20):
September 1, 2011 (IIT Patna): She jumped to death from the fifth floor of her hostel last week.
A school topper from Hyderabad, Sweeya was a third year student of B.Tech in computer science and reportedly unhappy with her performance in the fifth semester.
B. Gowrishankar (36):
August 31, 2011 (IIT Madras): A final year M.Tech student, Gowrishankar was found dead in his hostel room after he allegedly consumed poison. His reason for taking this extreme step has not been identified.
Dinesh Ahlawat (19):
August 4, 2011 (IIT Delhi): A first-year student of chemical engineering, Ahlawat was found hanging in his hostel room. Sources claim he was afraid of not performing well in the CBSE compartment exam.
Pankaj Chowdhury (25):
July 20, 2011 (IIT Kharagpur): A final-year student of metallurgy, Chowdhury was reportedly depressed after he failed to finish his course. He hanged himself to death in his hostel room.
Nitin Kumar Reddy (22):
May 4, 2011 (IIT Madras): A final-year student of mechanical engineering, Reddy could not handle the fact that he had failed a semester. Scared that this would affect the job he was offered recently, he hanged himself in his hostel room.
Manish Kumar (20):
Feb 6, 2011 (IIT Roorkee): Kumar, a second-year student from Muzaffarnagar, killed himself by jumping from the fifth floor of his hostel.
His family alleged that he took this step after a few students made "casteist" remarks about him.
V ANOOP (26):
Feb 23, 2011 (IIT Madras): Pursuing a dual degree M.Tech programme, Anoop should have finished his course in 2009. But he couldn’t complete his arrears and projects even with a two-year extension.
This allegedly drove him to suicide.
Courtesy: Yahoo News