The Light that Burnt Out

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events and/ or publicly available information. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

Lekshmi P S, MBA 2016-18, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur

The whole nation was still discussing over the controversial Rohit Vemula’s death when far across the east, yet another light burnt out way too fast. A 3rd year civil engineering student at IIT Kharagpur, Lokesh Meena committed suicide by walking 20 kilometers from the campus and throwing himself before a moving train. When the former incident sparked protests and gained widespread media attention, the latter one remained within the newspaper columns and a few friends posting ‘RIP’ on his Facebook wall. Another less known suicide of an engineering student back in my state triggered many thoughts of mine.

Like always, the reports show alarming numbers when I searched for suicide rates in India. According to WHO, 17% of the suicides in the world happens in India, which has 17.5% of the world population. I initially believed that the biggest risk group to be rural farmers facing debt after poor harvests. However, a study – published in the Lancet medical journal on Friday – says suicide rates are highest in the 15-29 age group, peaking in southern regions that are considered richer and more developed with better education, social welfare and health care. The best explanation for why India’s elderly take it better when it comes to facing problems is how Indian tradition treats the elderly as an important part of family traditions. Their needs are widely recognized and addressed, and they enjoy a measure of respect by virtue of their age. Rising middle-class aspirations, parents’ unrealistic ambitions for their children, poor teaching standards in schools and a fiercely competitive college admissions race contribute towards the suicide of youngsters. Once they get into a college of their parents’ choice, the race never stops. From aims of being a topper in the class to bag the highest package in Placements haunt them. The students of India somehow seem to face the need to be accepted among his peers as well. The leads them into alcoholism and drug-related issues.

The counselling centers come into action at many places, but there are a large number of students who cannot be reached by these counselors. The best way to address this issue will be to ensure that the depression prevailing among the students is identified and the counselling is given at an early stage. There is no one like a friend who can address somebody’s personal issues. Likewise, only a professor can identify the academic issues of a student. So, let’s not just keep our eyes open for news related to suicides, let’s keep our heart and doors open to listen to that friend of ours, whatever be his/her issue. Let’s make sure that Education doesn’t ruin us. Let the lights in each of us burn longer.

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