New Delhi: More than 100 students in higher educational institutions, including IITs, IIMs and central universities across the country, have died by suicide since 2014, Union Minister of Education Dharmendra Pradhan informed the Lok Sabha Monday.
The government also shared statistics of ragging cases in recent years, and elaborated about the action taken to eradicate the blight from campuses.
According to the data shared on student suicides between 2014 and 2021, 122 students across institutes killed themselves. The government informed Parliament that central universities have seen the most number of suicides — 37.
Central universities have seen the highest number of SC/ST/OBC suicides as well — 14 students belonging to the Other Backward Classes, nine from the Schedule Castes and one student from the Schedule Tribes category have died by suicide in these institutions.
The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) were a close second, with a total of 34 student suicides. According to the break-up given by the government, 13 and five students belonging to the OBC and SC categories respectively died by suicide in the IITs.
The National Institutes of Technology (NITs), too, saw a high number of suicides, with 30 students taking their lives. This included 11 from the OBC and six from the SC categories. The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) saw nine student suicides over the years.
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‘Easing academic stress’
Stating that the ministry has taken several steps to address mental health concerns to keep a check on student suicides, Pradhan listed out, “peer-assisted learning and the introduction of technical education in regional languages for students in order to ease academic stress”.
“The government of India initiative, Manodarpan, covers a wide range of activities to provide psychological support to students, teachers and families for mental and emotional well-being during the Covid outbreak and beyond. In addition, institutions conduct workshops/seminars on happiness and wellness, regular sessions on yoga, induction programmes, extracurricular activities including sports, cultural activities and the appointment of student counsellors for overall personality development and de-stressing students,” he added.
Drop in ragging incidents
In a response to another query in the lower house of Parliament, Minister of State for Education, Annapurna Devi, informed that there has been a steep decline in ragging in higher education institutes in the country.
According to data shared in the parliamentary reply, the total number of complaints of ragging received over the years was 1,016 in 2018, 1,090 in 2019, 219 in 2020 and 425 in 2021.
Action taken on these complaints led to 535 students being punished and 254 suspended in 2018, 504 punished and 246 suspended in 2019, 97 punished and 48 suspended in 2020 and 160 punished and 72 suspended in 2021.
The drop in the number of complaints about ragging received in 2020 to 219 can be attributed to the mode of education shifting from physical to online classes during the pandemic.
However, the continuing incidence of ragging cases despite a ban on them since 2009 speaks of poor implementation of rules.
In her response, Annapurna Devi stated that in order to ensure that such incidents do not happen on campuses, “UGC has made it mandatory for all institutions to incorporate in their prospectus the directions of the government regarding the prohibition and consequences of ragging”.
“A nationwide, toll free 24×7 anti-ragging helpline — 1800-180-5522 — in 12 languages has been established, which can be accessed by students in distress owing to ragging-related incidents,” she said.
Furthermore, the University Grants Commission has set up an anti-ragging website as well as a coordination committee and inter-council committee for effective measures against ragging in higher educational institutions, the Lok Sabha was told.
(Edited by Saikat Niyogi)
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