25 lives were lost recently in Telangana. 25 young lives! It’s the incompetence and shady dealing by the Education Department of the Telangana government responsible for this crisis- a government these students didn’t even choose, a government their parents had trusted to not bring any harm to their children. The saddest part? Most of India doesn’t even know about this tragedy. Let me tell you about how administrative apathy killed 25 children, how innumerable people have been irreversibly traumatized and how we have condemned our children to years of misery.
Telangana is a newly formed state in the southern part of India. Recently, the results on an intermediate exam were announced, but students immediately noticed discrepancies in the results. Many students were marked absent even though they had taken the exam. Some students had been giving poor scores, even though they had performed brilliantly in their exams last year. Something was clearly wrong.
Protests began the very next day. Barricades were set up in front of the governing body’s office and the police constables became intermediaries for many students and their families there. They heard the doubts and problems the students had and tried to pacify them. The constables said they had been through the same phase too and understood what this exam meant. They went out of their line of duty and helped many students calm down.
Sadly, this news didn’t reach many students across the state. Reports of children committing suicide started coming in. It started with one report but soon the number became ten, then fifteen and today it stands at twenty-five. The anger rose. Chief Minister, K.Chandrasekhar Rao, offered a free re-evaluation of the exam-sheets but the damage had already been done.
25 lives had already been lost and there was nothing anyone could do to save them. Their families had to live with the loss of their child because chances are that the state government took it too casually.
You may have noticed that I am not using the term ‘students’ for those who died. It’s because they were children before they were students. Most of them were between the ages of 16-18. They were teenagers who were under so much stress to perform well. They were youngsters who just wanted to clear their exams and move on in life, but their endeavors were blockaded by an irresponsible educational board. They were innocents who wanted to please their parents and secure their future. Now they don’t have one.
The hardest thing to understand about suicide is that it never happens because of just one reason. These young boys and girls didn’t commit suicide only because they failed their exams. Suicide is a complex phenomenon and reducing it to just one factor would be myopic, and in the long run dangerous.
The tragedy in Telangana made news (however little) only because it involved irresponsibility on part of the state administration. Chances are that the major news channels talking about this (Mirror Now and India Today) wouldn’t have even turned their heads if it wasn’t so.
What saddens me is that reports of suicides continue to come forward every time the results of a major exam are announced. What saddens me is that despite this being an annual event, we don’t have a national suicide prevention strategy. What saddens me is that chances are these victims of suicide will be forgotten because suicide is an uncomfortable topic to talk about.
Every hour a ‘student’ (read youngster) commits suicide in India. I only ask you this, how many lives must something claim before it can be talked about openly, before we can call it what it is- A National Crisis?