The ambitions caught in Kota

Aug 31, 2023

Swarming around Kota coaching classes has become teens’ way to suicide. We can find some remedies only in lowering the degree of unaffordable ambition and avoiding the teens’ chase for a wild goose. What kind of a professional the deeply disturbed minds can become in future is a serious question. What type of humaneness can we expect from such heavily pressured and disturbed minds? How well the teens who perform under severe external pressures and depression can contribute to society? That is another threat besides the threat of the rising suicide tendency.

Kota was once famous for its stones. Now it is infamous for the suicide of students aspiring for admission in high-end institutions. In 2023, already 22 teens have committed suicide, surpassing the last full-year number by 50 per cent, hitherto the highest ever. The suicide horror still looms large because of ineffective deterrent measures and the blind chasing of the golden goose. Teen suicide in Kota is not a new development. In the last eight years, the town witnessed the suicides of nearly 120 students. Only in 2020 and 2021, there was no report of suicide, thanks to the closure of offline classes. The tragedy lies not in ambition turned frustration but in an inadequate understanding of the future and undue pressure on young minds whose capabilities lie elsewhere.

Around 150 Kota coaching centres attract roughly 300,000 students a year to crack the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) and Joint Entrance Examination (JEE). This Rajasthan town is only an entrance coaching hub, but not an education hub. The coaching hub has also created huge local businesses, especially hostel businesses. Taxi drivers do marketing for institutes and hostels with a promise of economical coaching and stay! The fee goes up to Rs 300,000 plus one or two years of living expenses besides torturing pressures to perform. Parents and students take a huge risk to take away the cream of the above-national-average Kota success. That is no win for already-an-above-average students. Then what is the big deal in it? It is only an act of shopping for an additional ray of hope.  

The narrow ambition of hitting the top ranks for high-profile admission in creamy institutions throws the teen minds into chaos where they find no safe harbour. We have made our youngsters confine their future to what their parents find themselves to be overtly proud of. That is an admission crossing the JEE or NEET stumbling blocks.

Students show their depression and anxiety in various ways, including some unwise methods. One day, a 23-year-old entrance aspirant consumed 20 high-dose painkillers, Dolo 650. He consumed the bulk drug, Paracetamol not to commit suicide but by mistake after severe fever. This is one of the examples of growing mental imbalance or poor thinking capacity of entrance aspirants. 

On the other hand, the preventive measures against the tragedy have become pathetic jokes. It seems hostels can prevent it effectively with the fitment of spring-loaded fans, which will drop against a weight of more than 20 kilograms hung on it so that a teen’s suicide attempt will be futile. Hanging is not the only suicide method for one determined to commit it. The person will have his ways, everyone knows. Still, we discover childish ways of suicide deterrence instead of understanding the real reason for suicides and finding measures for salvaging teens from frustration and pressure.

Equally shallow are the other preventive measures like the appointment of psychologists at coaching centres, weekly holidays, recreational facilities, student-helpline desks, and some institutions offer partial fee refunds. Some of these measures are only for the name-sake but not for any result. The record of suicide showed the ineffectiveness of these measures. Shallow ideas will neither curb the suicides nor reverse the loss of hard-earned money when the time demands better care for the teen’s mind before more teens end their lives.