‘90% suicides in IITs are of SC/ST students’

On a CNBC discussion last night, while talking of Arjun Singh‘s relentless efforts to push in the 27 per cent reservation quota for OBCs, seemingly unmindful of the consequences, the economist and journalist Prem Shankar Jha stopped the anchor Karan Thapar from interrupting him and made an astounding claim:

“The majority of those who commit suicide in the IITs are those belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.”

Over the phone this morning, Jha confirmed saying that. He said a friend in the IIT had put the figure close to 90 per cent. In other words, nine out of every ten students who have ended their lives in the Indian Institutes of Technology are SCs and STs.

Truth to tell, it is not as if students are killing themselves in the IITs by the drove. Still, a death is a death. Statistically speaking, if even a single student commits suicide and he belongs to the SCs/STs, it will go down as 100 per cent.

Can Jha’s claim be true? Is there any solid research to prove this number? And if it’s true, has anyone tried to find out why it is happening and how further suicides can be prevented?

“There’s so much pressure put on the SC/ST students that they can’t cope. You’re throwing them in the same water and expecting them to compete. In a place where the average IQ is said to be in the range of 140, it places enormous pressure on those who can’t measure up.

“We make bad policy [like extended reservations] but don’t think about the net result of it. For instance, I would be interested to know how many SCs and STs, who have graduated from the IITs, have gone on to higher educational institutions like MIT.”

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21 Responses to “‘90% suicides in IITs are of SC/ST students’”

  1. Andy Says:

    Its sad and frightening if what you say is right. We have to evolve some system that gives SC/ STs and other under priviliged students some place for absorbing what is being told in IITs and help them handle the stress. Its important that such students are trained able to face the issues of Self Esteem and Confidence..

    Truly tragic if this continues and government / IITs dont bother to get involved.

  2. vinay Says:

    I think we should refrain from commenting /speculating till there are some concrete numbers. Else, like it always happens the uppercastes would be blamed esp. brahmins

  3. Raghu Says:

    Lets for a moment assume that this is true. I am also assuming that there are deserving students among SC/ST who need reservation. So is true of non SC/ST groups also.The basic problem today is that by providing reservations ate higher levels you are pushing them to the big stage in one go where the stress and pressures are too high. The government is just providing plaster for Cancer (in Greg Chappel’s words). These people need to be groomed from an young age where they become confident, believe in themselves and go on achieve greater things. Once they have the confidence and the basic foundation to handle these situations such problem of sucides etc will not exist. The government needs to strenthen basic education which will provide an overall good platform for all to compete when they reach institutions like IITs/IIMs. This problem will only increase till such time. Further this situation can be no different for people who are not covered under reservations but the percentage may be less.

  4. N Niranjan Nikam Says:

    I myself was in IIT Kanpur in 1978 trying to pursue my PhD. The hostel I was staying was Hall 4. I was there hardly for a year. But one thing that I used to hear there was there would be at least one suicide every year and it was definitely not mentioned that all of them belonged to SC/ST catgegory. Because it was also talked about was that since Hall 4 was for those doing PhDs many would not leave the place for years continuing with their PhDs. Incidentally it was also true that more people would go bonkers at IITs because of the pressure of studies or also due to the faculty differences which would tell on the students. This was also the reason for suicides here. So to make sweeping statements is not correct I feel.

  5. Alok Says:

    has prem shankar jha studied the phenomenon?

    Does he have names and numbers?

    AFAIK he could have pulled out the nunbers off the top of his head. Or he maybe generalizing a personal experience, i.e., some SC/ST students he knew who committed suicide. I’ll be very skeptical about this.

  6. Ranga Says:

    I know a few IIT retired professors who say that an informal departmental quota ( nhush hush) has been operating in these institutions for along time. At least 2 professotrs I know resigned because of the invidious position they were place in because of this clandestine practice. This quota is not a statutory quota established by the act of Parliament like SC/ST but is more like ‘who should get in through the backdoor’.

  7. decemberstud Says:

    Where the heck did Jha get the numbers from ? His ‘friend’ told him, yeah right. …my dad is a virgin !!!

    How stupid can people be…..

  8. Dheerendragopal Says:

    yaavanayya yidhanna bardhawnu….rastra prashasthi kodbeku

  9. gatekeeper Says:

    Utter nonsense. And unbelievable until we see the numbers. Even if Dalits are committing suicide can this be accurately linked to academic pressure. What about cultural factors such as an English-speaking intimidating crowd? That could belittle Dalits and lower their self-esteem, forcing them to commit suicide.

  10. H.R.Bapu Satyanarayana Says:

    Suicides are happening at alarming rate in 10th and in 2nd PUC , mostly by girls and till now there is no mention of the caste factor. Of course in the case of IITs and IIMs we had heard about those coming through quota not being able to cope and leaving midway but the news that 90% committing suicides belong to SC/ST is shaocking piece of information and if true Arjun Singh clerly stands indicted. The basic problem is empowering them through education whcih crates alevel playing field and till now the govt ahs not pushed thorough this aspect sancioned by constitution but only pursuing one point agenda which has only encouraged divisive tendancy on cast and religious lines.

  11. ccc Says:

    ye galat he

  12. Chidu Says:

    First of all,its sad that people have committed suicide not able to cope with pressures of the system called IIT.Secondly,its shocking to know that nothing has been done by IIT or government to help those who couldnt cope with IIT curricula.Education of any standard shouldnt be detriment ,if it is its not worth.If pupils at IIT study rocket science,it has to be made simpler so that,its not the goal but how you achieve it is more important.As for who committed suicide is immaterial,every death SC/ST or otherwise is SAD

  13. One SC student Says:

    I think it’s right.
    i’m also a sc student in iit and i feel more pressure here that i never feel in my entire life.
    One question i want to ask all of you that if the medium in all iit is english then why the entrance exam in both medium (hindi and english).

  14. Pradeep Says:


    English-speaking intimidating group affects not just dalits…. but all students from rural background whose English is shaky to unsatisfactory. Also, JEE is conducted in Hindi (as someone pointed above) which further complicates the matter. Most students who clear JEE in Hindi struggle with courses (quite naturally). I don’t know why JEE is conducted in Hindi (why not in other languages is a very valid question) but it sure is not helping matters.

    Finally. as an insider in one of the IITs I can say that most suicides happen not just due to academic stress but due to other pressures (from parents, peers, and girl friend issues).

  15. st student Says:

    i am studying in iit bombay now,the depression i am going through is barely differentiable from bieng suicidal.no matter how much effort i put i always end up bieng at the bottom..i have lost all respect and people begin to poke fun at my grades..its not the question of trying hard..its beyond my capacity..i have never felt so depressing before..its the case of all the sc st students..by studying full time and avoiding all extra currics the best anyone of us could come to is an average grade…its only a matter of time before our thinking goes like why are we working so hard..just leave it let us be at the bottom what difference does it make..it is so depressing to see people study only one night before and get high grades and all our efforts lay wasted.

    the govt doesnt realise that the reservation system is a failure..its no good..we end up bieng the dirt of iit,low confidence and depressed..given a chance i would pack up and leave to join some regional college rather than studying in iit..

  16. Gaby Says:

    ST Student: While the success of the reservation system will be debated till the cows come home, the real tragedy is the total lack of empathy and human care in those who laugh at your grades. They are no better than high school bullies and you should learn to laugh back at their loutish behaviour.

  17. Abhi Says:

    ST Student –

    Do not give up. I am speaking from my own experience of studying in Kannada medium and then going through probably same struggles. It does not matter if you don’t get good grades. What matters in real life is focus, hardwork and persistence (which you have) more than intelligence. Trust me, I have seen many “intelligent” guys who used to get great grades and not doing great when they get to professional life. Getting good grades is all about having a elephants memory in Indian education system (IIT and Non IIT, all the same).

    Just remember that you need to prove them wrong.

  18. pawan Says:

    All above comments makes me confused about the situation at iit for sc/st candidates.I am too getting into iit this year, what will happen seems to be a great academic presure but i dont believe it now.I will tell the exact situation in a few weak and that is going to be final

  19. shashi Says:

    First thing is we should have reservation but not everywhere.I mean not in IIM’s AND IIT’s (centers of excellence).Secondly after implementing reservation does government checks who is using reservation.The reservation is used by rich people of the sc/st who after getting some money changed their surnames to become general and they live in cities have best resources and still get benefits of reservation.Do they deserve it .They will use scholarships for their studies although their parents can afford fees.
    Secondly for example we have 7.5% reservation for scheduled tribe of India but it’s used by MEENA community of rajasthan which constitutes of only .75 % of total indian population.Why should one community get 7.5% of resources of INDIA.But no one cares.

  20. Dr.E.Murali Says:

    Arjun Singh’s efforts to bring 27% OBC quota is a wrong statement. The Mandal Commission in the report of OBC reservation specifically stated how to make reservation for OBC in student admission and how to give them extra coaching in higher educational institutions so that when they graduate their standard will be in par with the open category students. But, it was Mr.V.P.Singh then Prime Minister who first failed to implement the reservation for OBC students in all Central educational institutions. In fact, Mr.Singh did not implement OBC reservation in jobs not to help the OBC but under the political compulsion against Mr.Devi Lal who was mobilizing OBC groups against Mr.SIngh to capture PM post. Then Mr.Narasimha Rao clandestinely accepted the creamy layer economic concept against Article 15 (4) of the Constitution that states only socially and educationally backward class, SC or ST. Then it was me who filed a PIL in Supreme Court demanding OBC reservation in 2003 when BJP led NDA was in power. Later under the direction of SC it was filed in Madras High Court. Then Congress led UPA came to power in 2004 the 27% OBC reservation for student was listed in point 5 of the Common Minimum Programme. But there was no will to implement. Then the Madras High Court asked the Union Govt. of their policy on OBC reservation. After that things moved fast instead of getting the Executive Order to implement Mr.Arjun Singh took more time to bring Constitutional amendment and added Article 15 (5). It was a ploy the 15 (5) repeated the 15 (4) but clandestinely gave exemption to all the private and minority educational institutions from the purview of SC, ST and OBC reservation. In addition it also added creamy layer. The reason behind was Mr.Arjun Singh owns many private educational institutions in MP, UP and other states. So it was Arjun Singh who screwed up the real OBC reservation beneficial to more than 72 Cores of 120 Crores of Indian population.


  21. Anand Says:

    You guys must watch http://thedeathofmeritinindia.wordpress.com/2011/07/06/the-death-of-merit-manish-kumar-iit-roorkee/

    The incredulous tone of the Churmuri blog is annoying. Jha may be one of the few non-dalit voices saying this and many Indian seem afraid to face the facts. Suppose a few black students committed suicide in MIT Cambridge or in Harvard Univ, it would be a scandal. In India, dalit groups have to wage a battle to even get their stories across. Even dying, being forced to take ones life, does not seem to count. Do also see: http://thedeathofmeritinindia.wordpress.com/2011/04/24/%E2%80%98the-death-of-merit%E2%80%99-a-documentary/

    and the other link below


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