Stricter Regulations Enforced in Kota’s Student Hub Following Surge in Suicides

Kota, a renowned education hub in northern India, is implementing more stringent rules after witnessing a concerning rise in student suicides. The pressure-cooker environment and intense competition are taking a toll on students seeking admission to elite colleges. Many students, driven by the desire to excel, travel to Kota for coaching to prepare for India’s highly competitive medical and engineering entrance exams.

Vijay (name changed), a 21-year-old aspiring medical student, has faced multiple failures in these entrance exams. He had high hopes for Kota’s prestigious coaching centers. Kota, known as the “Land of Dreams,” is teeming with billboards displaying the names and achievements of successful students. However, this success-driven atmosphere comes with immense pressure, high expectations, and soaring fees of over 100,000 Indian rupees per year.

For Vijay, who hails from a modest background, the fear of disappointing his parents was overwhelming. The burden of academic expectations led to anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts. Despite the challenges, he found inspiration in Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone, who openly discussed her mental health struggles. Seeking help, Vijay is now receiving psychiatric treatment.

The Kota experience is fraught with high parental expectations, peer pressure, cutthroat competition, and relentless 14-hour study days. Tragically, more than 100 students have taken their lives in Kota over the past decade, with at least 25 suicides this year, a record high according to police data.

To address this crisis, the Rajasthan state government has imposed stricter regulations on coaching institutes. New guidelines discourage admissions for students below class nine and prohibit the public display of test results. Mental health workshops and student support helplines are gaining prominence to assist students facing distress.

A dedicated team is monitoring signs of depression among students, fostering early intervention. The Covid-19 pandemic and multiple lockdowns have further strained students’ emotional well-being.

While the education system strives for improvement, a culture change is also imperative. Encouraging students to pursue their passions beyond traditional fields and emphasizing the value of their lives is essential.

The commercialization of coaching centers and overcrowded classrooms have also contributed to students’ isolation and distress. Addressing these issues, along with promoting better teacher-student interactions and accommodations, will be crucial in ensuring a healthier learning environment in Kota.

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