Each time the newspaper unfurls another student’s tragic end, the pressing question lingers: when and how will this come to an end?

Welcome to the latest episode of the Supreme Court’s yet another fascinating dance of questionable rulings. In this piece, we analyse the court’s recent refusal to entertain a petition that sought regulation of private coaching institutes and a law to prescribe their minimum standards.

A fresh Monday’s dawn kindles newfound hope in the heart of petitioner Annirudha Nayal Malpani. Yet, in a distant realm, another heart faces a quiet departure of hope, navigating through the shadows of despair. In a plea that sought regulation of the mushrooming coaching institutes and presented data on student suicides, a bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and SVN Bhatti expressed helplessness and said that the court cannot pass any directions in such a scenario.

The court simply denied coaching institutes as a factor in suicides and backed ‘intense competition’ and ‘pressure of parents’ on their wards preparing for competitive exams as the main reasons for the rising number of suicides across the country. The court clearly mentioned that “coaching institutions in Kota cannot be blamed.” While we can’t deny the fact that societal and parental expectations do contribute a major chunk to the child’s pressure, refusing to hear any fault on coaching institutions still raises a question of doubt.

The widely acclaimed coaching hub, Kota, reported almost twenty-six deaths in 2023. An analysis by the Hindustan Times shows that more than half of the students who decided to end their lives were younger than eighteen years old. To delve into the factors contributing to these tragic outcomes, we need to acknowledge and articulate the underlying elements.

In a report by The Quint, a student studying at one of the premier coaching institutions mentioned that batches with higher aptitudes were given better treatment, like fully equipped libraries, twenty-four-hour teachers on call, etc. The potential toppers were even given fully furnished apartments with a maid and scooters. She added,

When you see others doing well, it instills a sense of competition. But when you see them being rewarded with money and other facilities, it leaves you feeling insecure.

To also contemplate this matter from a psychological lens, the toxic practice of segregating students on the basis of their ranks and grades breeds an air of superiority among high achievers, cultivating an unhealthy sense of competition among peers. Not only this, but these money-centric establishments allegedly lure the potential toppers with money so that they bring fame to ‘their’ coaching institute. As students dabble with homesickness, societal pressures, and financial burdens, the toxic atmosphere intensifies the struggle.

Notably, this isn’t the first time concerns have been raised about regulating coaching institutes and their alleged financial practices. In 2017, when this matter was previously brought before the apex court, the judicial stance was that it fell within the purview of state governments to address and regulate. History seemed to echo itself as the Supreme Court once again redirected the plea to the government, leaving us pondering a singular question: Does this constant redirection yield any effective results? While the Rajasthan government did issue guidelines in November 2022, complying with the orders of the HC and providing assurance of a law enactment, nothing seems to have changed as the state still yielded the highest number of suicides since 2015. In a parallel narrative, the issues confronting the Delhi government’s negligence find resonance in the streets of Mukherjee Nagar, still crying for the ‘framing’ of guidelines proposed in 2020.

The escalating tide of suicide cases demands a no-nonsense consideration for nationwide, centrally mandated guidelines. The grim reality is worsened by the flagrant negligence and incompetence shown by the various state governments. It screams for an urgent and concrete response because ‘pressure of parents’ no longer serves as the only scapegoat, while ‘spring-loaded fans’ and ‘anti-suicide nets’ are not the resolutions anymore.

Read also: The Supreme Court’s Handbook on Combating Gender Stereotypes

Featured Image Credits: India Today

Dhairya Chhabra
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Mardaani 2 which releases on 13th December has created controversy weeks before its release. The controversy revolves around Kota, the city in which Mardaani 2 is based.

Every year during late summers newspapers, billboards and the Internet get flooded with advertisements of coaching classes glorifying their results in Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) and National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) exams. Every alternate advertisement is from the coaching capital of India, Kota. I am sure many of us would have deliberately or forcibly pondered about the idea of studying in Kota once in life. More than half a lakh students flock to Kota every year to realise their dreams of getting into an IIT or a premier medical college. Lately, it’s in news and unfortunately, not for good reasons.

No, it’s not about the suicide rates which the city is infamous for but, the Rani Mukherjee starrer, Mardaani 2 which is set there. Trailer of the film that released on 14th November has generated substantial amount of controversy even before its theatrical release. The storyline has moved to Kota from Delhi in the second part of this franchise, where Shivani Shivaji Rao, a super cop from Mumbai, is assigned with a new case to catch a 21-year old notorious criminal involved in rape and murder cases of girls in Kota.

The backdrop of movie did not shy away from illustrating Kota in its rawest form, which has invited the wrath of residents and students who come here to study alike. So much so that the Speaker of Lok Sabha and Member of Parliament Om Birla had to intervene in the matter.

Why are Citizens of Kota angry?

The protesters say that the film shows Kota in a bad light. The protesters reserve that Kota, that is a hub for engineering and medical coaching centres, has not witnessed the kind of events shown in film. They demand Kota’s name to be removed from the entire reel of the film.

A geographical land always holds cultural significance for its inhabitants. The fury of Kota residents justifies that. But before succumbing to emotive ethos, let’s look at crime rates of this city.

According to the ‘Crime in India’ data released in 2016, Kota occupied 3rd place all over Rajasthan for rape crimes. With 437 cases registered in one single year, the rape rates were 20% while assault rates were as high as 24.5%.

In 2016, the Kota Police confirmed the existence of a student gang called “Bihari Tigers Force” after their involvement in the murder of a 19-year old medical aspirant. The notorious gang formed around 2008 has been active in moderate to heinous crimes like chain snatching, extortion, harassment etc.

When ‘Delhi Crime’ released on Netflix this year, no such controversy was seen around. Based on the 2012 Nirbhaya Rape Case, the show stigmatised the national capital on crime against women that is evidently prevalent here. But for Delhi it’s not a new blot. Every now and media has scolded Delhi for the same. It might be that we have internalised Delhi’s ill habit. Maybe seeing a filmmaker reflect the issues of Kota has made their citizen uncomfortable, but that’s necessary for anyone who wishes to rectify the problems prevalent in their surroundings.

Featured Image Credits: Zee News


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