Trends on Tuesday
And the boy tied a belt around his neck, latched the other end on a fan and kicked the chair beneath him.... She ran up to the terrace of her building, looked back one last time and jumped.
No, these are not endings of a set of Gus Van Sant movies. These are alarming trends facing the urban youth of today in a super competitive India. A few years ago, when we were in school, suicides soon after results were unheard of. But now, we have suicide helplines, huge long winded articles in major newspapers, and even shows on TV that try to counsel kids against taking that drastic step.
When did such a dire situation come about and why? Peer pressure to perform is perhaps one of the biggest reasons. Yeah, almost all of us know that peer pressure is the cause of practically all problems facing the youth. But why do some succumb to peer pressure and some others don't? The answer may not be too obvious, but somewhere the stress that people lay on academics and their importance in lives is perhaps key. For instance, in some houses, people tell the kids to work hard. But a few slip ups here and there are perhaps forgotten. In some other households, the pressure to perform is very high. Somehow, the impressionable minds are given the view that if they do not score those 99% marks, their lives are finished. Well, fear is a good tactic to get human beings to work. But somewhere, in kids, the fear has to be offset as well. Which unfortunately isn't happening.
If we delve deeper, the issue can also be with the education infrastructure. Too few opportunities for too many people. Few seats in the IITs. Few really good colleges. add to it the seats eroded due to reservation and kids have precious few opportunities. And academic lineage does matter while getting into universities abroad or even into premier schools in India. The kids really at risk are not the average or below average ones, for they manage to do something or nothing at all. The kids at risk are the ones a notch below the best. The ones who fall in the 'just missed' category, who set their goals on the best and fall into despair when they miss. So the issue is complex and the resolution perhaps lies in proper counselling and hand holding services, not just for kids but for their families as well. Somewhere someone needs to tell the super moms and super dads that it is ok to fail once in a while. For with every fall comes the effort to rise again and that effort builds a true human being.
But till then, the spate of suicides and botched suicide attempts soon after school exam results is a scary trend. It really is insane, for a 16 year old who is considered too immature to vote or buy alcohol or even drive, decides that a few low marks in an exam have the capacity to break his/ her life! It is a very gory foreboding of future trends that need to be checked before it is too late. India has a young working population to look up to in the future. The last thing we need is our competitive nature getting the better of us.