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Rajasthan's Silent Crisis: Government Appears Powerless Against Rising Kota Suicides

Kota Suicides | Kota's alarming surge in student suicides exposes glaring gaps in Rajasthan's intervention measures. The state government's inertia sparks outrage, demanding urgent and effective solutions.

By The Probe Staff
New Update

Kota Suicides
Kota suicides | Representative image | Photo courtesy: Special arrangement

Kota suicides | In the historic city of Kota, renowned as the coaching hub of India, a chilling trend casts a sombre shadow. Over the past eight months, the city has witnessed an unprecedented spike in student suicides, prompting grave concerns and eliciting sharp criticism towards the Rajasthan government. 

Despite its reputation as an educational powerhouse, the grim statistics paint a troubling picture: 25 young lives lost to the immense pressures they faced, with the latest being a 16-year-old NEET aspirant from Jharkhand. According to the Kota police, the student was rushed to the hospital but tragically pronounced dead upon arrival. The heart-wrenching incident of the Jharkhand teenager is but a grim reminder of the mental toll rigorous competition takes on these students, many of whom travel from distant parts of the country to pursue their dreams.

A deepdive report by The Probe had earlier exposed the bleak realities many of these students confront in Kota’s coaching institutes. Family members of the deceased relayed harrowing accounts, painting a picture of immense academic and social pressure. Disturbingly, one grieving parent even alleged that their child's death was not suicide but, in fact, a sinister act of murder.

The distress doesn't end there. As our team delved deeper into the life within these institutions, several students opened up about an unsettling culture of discrimination. They allege a divisive system, where students are segregated based on their academic performance. Those who achieve lesser marks are sidelined, while their higher-scoring peers are afforded additional privileges, training, and attention.

Kota suicides highlight the pressing need for a proactive strategy from the government to address the issue. Regrettably, the state administration is under intense scrutiny for its perceived inadequacy and for seemingly deflecting blame onto parents.

While there's a consensus that parental pressure plays a significant role in the distress faced by students, critics argue that the Rajasthan government seems to be using this argument to deflect from their own responsibilities. Speaking on Kota suicides, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot remarked, "You Are Committing A Crime," directing his words towards parents whom he sees as culprits for burdening their children with undue pressures. 

Similarly, Rajasthan Minister Pratap Singh Khachariyawas weighed in on the matter, urging parents not to impose their unfulfilled dreams on their children, cautioning, "parents shouldn't realise their dreams through their kids." However, the stark reality is that the government seems directionless and has failed to stem the tide of rising student suicides in Kota. 

On the judicial front, the Rajasthan High Court has solicited recommendations to prevent suicides among students attending coaching institutes, particularly in Kota. Emphasising the critical role of mental health, the court is advocating for stronger psychological support for students. Additionally, there's active consideration for introducing the Rajasthan Coaching Institute (Control and Regulation) Bill 2023, tailored explicitly to regulate the operations of coaching centres in the state.

In an earlier conversation with The Probe, Rajkumar Singh, the Additional District Magistrate of Kota, addressed the mounting crisis with solutions that have garnered diverse opinions regarding Kota suicides. Highlighting the weight of expectations, Singh observed, "There's a pronounced disparity between the number of medical seats available in India and the overwhelming number of students flocking to Kota for preparation. Parents frequently press even their less accomplished children into these intense courses, with expectations of 12-15 hours of daily study, often without adequate outlets for sports or relaxation."

Singh elaborated, "In 2018, we rolled out a policy where psychologists were recruited, and counselling sessions were planned. By November 2022, more directives were set forth. We've launched a portal for students to voice their grievances, along with a readily accessible helpline." Yet, one measure that has stirred considerable debate is the installation of anti-hanging devices in fans. Singh explained, "If a student attempts to hang themselves, the fan will give way under a weight of 5-7-10 kgs. While not a conclusive solution, this may deter an initial suicide attempt, providing an opportunity for intervention." However, critics maintain that merely modifying fans is a surface-level response. A deeper, more proactive strategy from the government is needed—one that tackles the root causes and presents genuine solutions to stave off these tragedies.

To watch our full report on Kota Suicides, click here

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