- One of the most accepted facts in life is that nothing comes easy but one must go through the grind before achieving/realizing the stated objectives. There is no substitution for hard work. No point in cutting corners to achieve something in a hurry without having to go through the rigmarole. The laws of the universe cannot change and hence, humankind must make every effort to complete the process without looking at ways to commit short shrift which would be nothing short of counterproductive. We Indians are quite aware of social engineering so widely prevalent in the form of quotas and reservations to provide succour to historically oppressed people. The policy has succeeded to a great extent but challenges in some segments remain though.
- Take for instance the higher education institutes where reservations for a certain category of people exists. But the academic challenges and peer pressure to excel in a competitive environment are tremendous. As it is Indian society lays too much importance on educational achievements where high marks and ranks are counted as the ultimate, irrespective of caste, creed, class, or race. The moot point to ponder over here is how students succeed in overcoming academic challenges at par with their peers. No wonder, unable to cope with the academic pressures and the accompanying family-oriented queries too, incidents of students committing suicide is also on the rise. The matter has assumed alarming proportions.
- As reported, after an IIT Bombay Dalit student died by suicide last month, an internal probe has attributed it to depression over his poor academic performance, ruling out caste bias. His family rejects this finding too. Needless to mention, suicide has complex causes and cannot be reduced to any particular reason. Moreover, mental health is not simply a story inside a mind, social discrimination can be a factor. Merely months before this death, two surveys within IIT Bombay had documented how Dalit and Adivasi students deal with the pressures of discrimination on campus. Worryingly, other bright and promising Dalit and Adivasi students have been driven to depression and suicide in India’s best educational institutions. Let’s delve deep into this.
- Many institutions define meritorious and deserving at the point of the entrance test alone. But many of these students fight immense odds like schooling disadvantages, poor resources, subpar teaching assistance, and low English or tech skills. On campus, the academic pressure and high stakes are intensified for them. Unfortunately, our elite institutions have downplayed these difficulties when students drop out, or even die by suicide. They claim these students do not meet exacting academic standards, instead of making a genuine effort for those who have made it this far into their care. Universities have to genuinely make systemic changes to cater to all students. Narrow definitions of merit are of no use to those students who most desperately need help.