On the 2nd of November, distressing news came out of Telangana about the suicide of Aishwarya Reddy, a mathematics honours student from New Delhi's Lady Shri Ram College For Women. In her suicide note, she wrote about being a burden on her family because of her education and blamed no-one for her death.
This financial assistance, however, was delayed since the month of March. Furthermore, Aishwarya was asked to vacate her hostel room as the LSR residence is only available for first-year students. This particular policy has received a lot of criticism in the past.
The college authorities, including the principal, decided to blame the victim by stating that she had never approached the administration for help. Furthermore, the Alumni Association spoke about the presence of a certified counsellor to help students.
The reality, however, is rather grim.
Poverty augmented by the lockdown, the curse of the digital divide, an unaccommodating college administration, and an apathetic government pushed a student to take her own life. Aishwarya's death was termed an 'institutional murder' for these reasons.
The truth is that our education system does not cater to the marginalised — it purely exists for the privileged. Our education system does not recognise economic inequalities — it thrives because of them.
There's an Aishwarya Reddy today and there was a Rohith Vemula yesterday.
There was also a Payal Tadvi, not too long ago.
While the reason behind the heart-breaking suicides of both Rohith and Payal are vastly different from that of Aishwarya's — both have a background of caste discrimination, another rampant issue in India — these are all instances of the system failing young students. Lady Shri Ram College failed an innocent young woman — one of the many women who aspire to call its red corridors, sprawling lawns, and classrooms home. Where does one go when a 'prestigious' institution such as this delivers absolute injustice to its students?
As per statistics, a student dies by suicide every hour in India. More than 10,000 such lives were lost in 2018 alone. The once-thriving lives of Aishwarya, Rohith, Payal, and several others have been reduced to these figures.
If you have suicidal thoughts or know someone in distress, please reach out. You can speak to someone by calling AASRA’s 24x7 helpline at +91 98204 66726. Alternatively, you can call these numbers of other local helplines, emergency services, and mental health organisations.
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