Sudhansu R Das
India has the highest suicide rate at 35.5 per one lakh youth in the age group between 15 and 29 years in the world. According to the 2015 data available with the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), every hour one student commits suicide. The figure excludes many unreported suicides and attempted suicides. In 2015, 8934 students committed suicides across the country. Between 2010 and 2015, 39775 Indian students ended their life.
Experts link it to stress, depression and mental illness. The WHO report titled ‘Depression and Other Common Mental Disorders — Global Health Estimates’ said in 2015, over two-thirds of global suicides were in low- and middle-income countries like India. The report says over five crore Indians suffered from depression, over three crore others suffered from anxiety disorders. The point is why depression happens to so many people in the country?
Job loss is one of the main reasons for depression among youth. Indian youth don’t get many options to choose career as per their natural talent and passion. Gainful employment in a diverse job environment could keep young people happy and productive. India in spite of having multiple economic sectors focus on a few mono sectors like realty, mining, manufacturing and services which are linked to global trade. Diverse economic activities are drying up due to urban centric education, external influence, lack of research, societal behaviour change and due to lack of scientific economic thinking. Every year 12 million youth join the Indian labour pool and the majority end up in doing mundane jobs. Industry and services sector cannot provide quality jobs to such a large number of workforce amid automation, artificial intelligence and introduction of robots.
Mono sector growth in economy let parents compel their children to choose professions which have demand in the market. Millions of youth sacrifice their passion, innate talent and creativity to put themselves in an environment which they don’t like. Depression looms large. Daily, an average one person comes to commit suicide in Hussain Sagar lake of Hyderabad, said a police man on duty. The authority put tall fence around the lake and deploy police men to prevent suicide attempts. The new born Telangana state has the second highest suicide rate in the country next to Sikkim where drugs, loss of job diversity, cartel and corruption increases the frustration level among youth.
A report, titled ‘India State-Level Disease Burden report and Technical Paper’, produced by experts from Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) and Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in collaboration with Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, stated that the biggest cause of death among people of 15-39 age group in Telangana is suicide and violence. Telugu cinemas are partly responsible for this mayhem as majority of the second rate cinemas show excess of blood, gore and sex scenes to woo illiterate audience.
There are large number of techno schools in Andhra and Telangana coaching students to clear medical and engineering entrances. Most of these entities do not let children understand the basic concepts and force them to mug up lessons. When children get admitted in Techno Schools, every minute of their day right from 5 am to 10 pm is monitored to force them to read, produce and reproduce study material. Students are forced to sit through long hours against their will in a robotised environment. When children mug up science and math question answers they fail in highly competitive exams where questions are creatively designed to know children’s understanding of the subject.
Recently, the Hyderabad High Court has reportedly admitted a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on the increase of student suicides due to top techno colleges in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Barring a few engineering colleges in Andhra and Telangana the majority have converted education into a lucrative business. Many of the colleges neither have good faculty nor do they have labs to teach students. These colleges thrive on the donation from the gullible parents and reimbursement of tuition fee by the state government. When children donot get jobs after passing out from these colleges, they enter into depression and some of them take extreme steps.
The newspaper reports on students’ suicide in Andhra and Telangana due to failure in the competitive exams are pouring in. Many reputed coaching institutions lure brilliant students with incentives to take admission in their institutes for image building. They give admission to all the categories of students. Majority of the student perish due to lack of background, faculty support, loss of interest in the subject, pressure from parents and faculties.
Majority of parents want their children to become doctors and engineers. Accordingly state boards in many states have devised their study curriculum for schools which focus on maths and science subjects. Subjects like literature, education, history, sociology, geography and sports take back seat. Job loss, lack of inclusive opportunities, cartel and corruption are the main reasons why parents force their children to opt for engineering and medical. When children do not get a seat in reputed colleges they think this is the end of the world.
Experts feel there is shortage of doctors to treat chronic depression. In fact, the collapse of the joint family system, urban centric education, aggressive consumerism, lack of inclusive growth, lack of inclusive opportunities, negative job environment, lack of quality education which does not create employable youth.
Recently Telangana government has made 2% reservation for sportsmen in government jobs which is a laudable step. Private sector, banks and central government department should also recruit sportsmen on regular basis which will encourage children to take to sports as one of the career options. Proper environment should be created for job diversity in multiple sectors and self-employment across the country. Besides introduction of uniform CBSE syllabus in all schools, development sports, art, culture and creation of inclusive opportunity will reduce suicide rate and channel youth energy for nation building.