This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Varsha Priyadarshini. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

The Toxic Culture Of Sri Chaitanya and Narayana’s Coaching Is Pushing Students To Suicide

More from Varsha Priyadarshini

Sri Chaitanya and Narayana. These are infamous names in the South. They are every middle-class household’s gateway to achieving the ‘good life’. They stand for providing a ‘healthy and competitive environment’ with ‘top-notch facilities and experienced teachers’ which helps the students of the institute have an edge over others in the cut-throat competition that surrounds the engineering/medical entrance exams. A good rank in these tests, a seat in a top medical/ engineering college and your child has ‘made’ it in life. This is what they sell, through well-crafted ads and promotions. But how far does this translate into reality is what remains under scanner till date.

Anirudh, an PCM (physics, chemistry and mathematics) student from Narayana, Jubilee Hills Branch of Hyderabad says, “I made a choice to pursue engineering after my 10th boards. Narayana was the best option available for crossing the entrance hurdle. I knew it was tough out there but I clearly was not ready for what hit me in those two years. We had classes from 8 am to 6 pm with a lunch break in between. My weekends were spent cramming for the exams. It was worse for the creamy students (the topper batch) as they had to work from morning 8 am till 8 in the evening. The lecturers were not as good as they project them to be. It is just a scam. Under the farce of ‘good education’ it was almost like they ruined two years of my life. There was no social development at all. I can’t even imagine what it was like for the hostellers.”

He goes on to relate his own understanding of the Sri-Chaitanya and Narayana network and how he feels about the increasing number of suicides in the last few months.

“I feel like I had an option to get out of it after those two years. Most people don’t, and hence, there is always this fear of losing out in this rat-race a lot of students feel vulnerable and hopeless. Many come from lower-middle-class backgrounds with student loans or otherwise. The institute charges exorbitant fees and students from such backgrounds feel the pressure even more. The coaching they provide is not competent enough to help all students to excel. It creates an even additional pressure because sometimes you have to just self-learn. It is just an unhealthy environment where very few people survive and get out of the place unscathed. Rest of us are just led into a delusion that we will get good coaching and succeed. It puts you in a situation where every day you feel like getting out of this mess that you have put yourselves into and a constant dread prevails that if you don’t perform you won’t ever succeed in life. It is a matter of life and death. It always felt like one. ”

The functioning of these institutes is some sort of an open secret. Parents are aware of the rigorous time schedules and harsh living conditions in the hostels. Even then, they still opt for these institutes because of the almost unmerciful way that competitive entrance exams function in this country. The competition is such that one needs intense dedication, smart preparations and hard work to make it through. Hence, the belief that it is necessary for the child to go through this rigorous ‘training’ and ‘quality education’ to ensure a position in the exams. They somehow feel that the pressure to perform will get the better out of their wards. Hence, some amount of perseverance through these harsh conditions is a prerequisite.

But to what ends are we willing to subject 15-16-year-olds to such a controlled and severe environment on the basis of a fractured mindset can never be justified; especially in the wake of the alarming number of suicides which have been reported out of different branches of these institutes across the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. We must think about how inhuman and mounting the academic stress become that students just out of school are willing to take such a drastic step.

And yet it is not a recent phenomenon. Over the years the institutes have been reported to have a number of its students committing suicide. The government has time and again set up committees to look into the environment of these coaching institutes and asked them to follow the guidelines set by the state governments. They’ve also warned these institutes by threatening to revoke its recognition if they do not follow the government’s guidelines. All of this has been ignored by the institute’s administration. They don’t even care to respond to such orders. How does it manage to evade questioning despite having such suicide cases inside their institutions is a matter of concern.

Over the past few weeks, the movement against the institutes’ functioning and the student suicides has gained momentum through the protests and awareness campaigns by the Telangana Vidyarthi Vedika (TVV) who have been insistent in their call for the cancellation of permission to run these institutes in the state. They had sought an inquiry into the suicide cases from the district collector who had promised swift action. From March 15 to March 22, they had conducted awareness camps all across Telangana to dissuade parents from putting their wards in the Sri-Chaitanya and Narayana institutions. They ran these campaigns to familiarise the general public with the drastic effects this sort of ‘coaching’ has on a child’s health.

Naveen, a TVV member, says, “We got a good response from the parents who understood the problem. But their major concern was if not Narayana or Chaitanya, then where? They lack faith in the government-run intermediate colleges which doesn’t provide quality education for class 11th-12th, forget about having extra training for cracking the entrance tests. It is because of this lack of an alternative to this nexus that they are able to thrive.”

Naveen also mentions how the Sri Chaitanya and Narayana management had allegedly contacted them during the awareness campaigns offering them money to pull off the campaign. It had infuriated the members; following which on March 27, they had gone to meet and interrogate the Telangana Intermediate Board on the actions they had taken to further the inquiry on the suicide cases in these institutes. However, around 150 members were arrested and were not given a chance to meet with the board.

They have also signed online petitions seeking a ban on the institutes on the grounds that these are merely profit-earning ventures who sell dreams by making false promises. They blame the institute for the student suicides which is an immediate effect of the undue and unfair expectations it puts on them. Over a lakh have signed up for the cause and it’s still counting.

Moreover, a division bench of the Hyderabad High Court had issued notices to the governments of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and to the Sri-Chaitanya and Narayana colleges to respond to a PIL filed by Dasari Emmanuel, a co-convener of Lok Satta Agitation Society of Prakasam district regarding the student suicides in these private colleges. Dasari had alleged that the Sri-Chaitanya and Narayana nexus sits on a very convenient position despite facing severe backlash from varying sections of the society owing to its close relations with a minister in power. He had sought an issue of a judicial inquiry into the suicide cases and register a criminal case against the colleges.

Hence, there has been constant pressure on the institutes from varying fronts. But it still continues to exist and thrive through its connections, its hold on society because of the lack of an alternative. This state of our education system says a lot about our society. There are numerous such institutes analogous to Sri- Chaitanya and Narayana which run across the country under different banners. They have been running for over a few decades now. They produce good results in the entrance tests with the topper being someone amongst these institutes. But how did we, as a society, understand and treat the other half? How have we reached this point where student suicides have almost become everyday news?

Ultimately, there is a dearth of good government educational institutions which would meet the demands of the growing student population. This leads parents to look for alternatives in the private sector. This has slowly become a norm now where every other household has someone or the other studying in a ‘premier institute’ and is working day in and day out to get that merit seat. We have failed as a society to understand the needs of a child who is right out of school and looking to seek their calling. By pushing students to ‘study’ in such a counter-productive environment we are taking away what should be a learning phase for the overall development of one’s personality. I was part of this bandwagon once. It was three years of jail term with PCMB books and no development whatsoever. But like Naveen said, there was no alternative.

It’s high time that we extend our support to such movements which look to reform our education system.

_

Image source: Jai Pandya/Flickr, Kranthi Tekula/Facebook
You must be to comment.
  1. Daniyal Mahmood

    True indeed

  2. suchismith roy

    Thanks a ton for posting this. I really wished for someone to post this. I can very well relate to it.I have written something similar

    Kindly do give it a read.

    https://www.quora.com/What-is-something-that-needs-to-be-said/answer/Suchismith-Roy?__filter__&__nsrc__=2&__snid3__=2504843691

More from Varsha Priyadarshini

Similar Posts

By Imran Hasib

By Meemansa Narula

By Harshita Solanki

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below