Thursday, January 12, 2012

Bright minds and Dark Angels


Being a 5-pointer proves to be too much for these bright students and they fail to deal with the pressure.

Dad – sorry I couldn't be a better son to you… all you asked was my betterment of my career and future and I couldn't give it to you… I have failed you dad and I am so sorry about it. I cannot show my face to you
Mom – Sorry mom, I really did love you more than dad….

I was weak I thought I could become strong but I was weak, I was so so so weak the fault is my own. The fault is my own. Hope something good happens with my death. Firestallion has left the building…

I wish to donate my eyes and internal organs…. At least somebody can be benefitted with my death.
In another 2 min it will be 3:13 both my fav numbers. awesome time to die 

These were Nitin Kumar Reddy's last words in an email he sent to his father. The final-year M.Tech student at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras hanged himself from a ceiling fan in his hostel room after he got a semester extension.

Straight out of Raju Hirani's blockbuster 3 Idiots, Nitin aka Firestallion aka Swamy was on the verge of completing his final-year project, but could not meet the deadline. Unable to face the embarrassment of not graduating with his batch, he “left the building”.

'' I had told him not to worry; I would sort it out,'' says Nitin's father, Lakshmana Moorthy, who was to land in Chennai by the first flight the next morning. “I had left my office to attend a meeting. I got a call telling me that Nitin had sent a disturbing email. By the time my friend read out the email, he was gone.”

The pressure cooker description given by the media certainly does not go with the IIT Madras campus, located within a 620-acre natural forest with a magnificent lake and a wide range of flora and fauna.

However, in the last three years, the campus has witnessed six suicides—the highest number across IITs. This year eight IITians killed themselves across India, and IIT Madras leads this list, too, with two students, both from the mechanical engineering department, killing themselves.

In February, V. Anoop, 25, a final-year M.Tech student at IIT Madras, hanged himself in his hostel room, as he could not complete his course in time.

His father, Vijay Kumar, says Anoop had trouble with his guide, who “wasn't happy that Anoop did not consult him enough”. Anoop had requested a change, and it was granted. “His new guide had assured him that he would complete the project in time…. But we got a letter from the institute asking us to re-register. I got a call that midnight that he was gone,” he recalls.

And more recently, in September, B. Gowri Shankar, a second-year postgraduate student at IIT Madras was found dead in his room. It is suspected to be a case of suicide, though forensic experts are yet to confirm it.

According Nitin's friends, he had finished the major part of his project: simulation. “He had trouble fixing the engine,” they recall. “He asked his guide for help. He was told to approach the lab technicians, but they apparently were unable to help. Nitin tried fixing it himself, which did not happen. Finally on the day when he had to submit the thesis, the engine wasn't ready.”

And that meant Nitin had to repeat a semester. His plum placement plans bid him goodbye, and he bid goodbye to life.

Students who knew Nitin say he had initially faltered with his time-management. “His project guide should have noticed this and helped him fast-track his work,” says a student. “Indeed, many professors fail to pay enough attention to projects, as they are busy with researchers under them.”

While extensions pushed Anoop and Nitin to the extreme, the latest IITian to give up on life—Mehtab Ahmed, a first year student in IIT Kanpur—had been on campus just for a couple of months. The youngest in his family, Ahmed hanged himself from the ceiling fan in his hostel room on September 22.

The reasons being cited were many, including love affair and homesickness. The end result, however, was scrawled across the wall of his room in pencil: “I am tired of IIT-Kanpur.” This was the ninth suicide in IIT Kanpur in five years. 

Concerned about the spike in the number of students killing themselves, the IIT Council headed by Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal has recommended setting up of a task force—consisting of teachers, parents and students—to study the issue.

Eight suicides across India in an annual combined batch of 10,000 might seem, as one professor in IIT Madras put it famously, “statistically unimportant''. But when the country's brightest students decide to end their lives, it does call for, if nothing, introspection.

Life@IIT

What makes these brilliant students crack? Boman Irani as the heartless professor may have been the chief reason for many students to give up in 3 Idiots, but in real life, it is much more complicated.

And it is not that IITs are like Nazi camps. Majority of the graduates say IIT was the best part of their lives. Even current students agree: “It is fun; the pressure is part of it,” says an IIT Madras B.Tech student. “We booze once in a while, we have ‘unofficial' inter-hostel competitions, and we have our own share of masti, besides plenty of sports and recreational facilities.”



Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

1 comment:

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Its really heart touching real story.