Hyderabad: Clearing the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) and getting admission in premier Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) is the dream of many youths in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. But it comes with a hefty price tag for some of them. A scan of records by TOI revealed that between 2014 and October 2022, at least 15 students from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana committed suicide at various IITs, including Kharagpur, Hyderabad and Guwahati. The death by suicide of G Mahesh Sai Raj, a BTech student, on the IIT-Guwahati campus on October 10, after being terminated for allegedly poor academic performance, is only the latest of them. While nine were pursuing BTech, the rest were either M Tech or PhD scholars. These numbers become more disturbing when you consider that in December 2021, Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan told Parliament that since 2014, 34 IIT students have died by suicide. Students, alumni, faculty members and academics, whom TOI spoke to, attribute this unfortunate trend to three issues commonly faced by some students from Telugu-speaking states – their failure to accommodate (or So either because of the language barrier or the fact that most of these students come from an overprotective college environment), a north-south bias (in the case of some IITs) and ridicule by peers for being the product of some coaching centers in Hyderabad. We do. TOI reached out to several former and current teachers of IITs across the country, but most did not respond and refused to speak on the issue. The students, both past and present, were more forward on various issues, but preferred to talk off the record. “People from outside both the states feel that all the students of these coaching centers crack JEE by rote and they do not have the life skills and aptitude to be in IITs. This stems from the fact that in coaching institutes, students have to Often taken in hand and exams are given. Extensive practice sessions. When they join IITs, the self-study model throws them off initially,” said a Telugu student pursuing a master’s degree from IIT-Indore . He continued: “Even professors, sometimes, make sarcastic remarks about how some students are from these elite coaching institutes. It’s almost like a black mark and embarrasses them,” he added. Told. However, academics believe that coaching is now a major part of IIT preparation and there are a minority who come without coaching. Students from the education background of the local language, be it Telugu or Hindi or Tamil, will find it difficult to cope in IITs. From my experience, students do not have technical but linguistic barrier because the mode of communication in IITs is English because the concepts and technicalities are all in English. When such students were in coaching, this issue was noticed as the instructors taught in a mix of local and English. This issue sometimes gets coupled with the sudden switch from coaching to IIT education model, which is a universal issue for all students,” explained Professor Anurag Mehra, Associate Faculty, Center for Policy Studies, IIT Bombay. Most Telugu Students find it difficult to network with the Hindi-speaking crowd. Often, their soft skills are also poor as coaching centers focus more on academics and less on overall development. In a situation where they communicate their issues with others Can’t or can’t have healthy relationships, it affects their mental health,” said another IIT-ian from Kharagpur. He said that life on an IIT campus can be lonely as students are left to fend for themselves. Day 1. When students begin to slack off and seek solitude in friends, there is often little or no support in their way. does not come “The pressure is so high that an IIT has a word for an all-rounder/achievement – “machau” which means an achievement, and everyone is under the stress of being one. Since every student is fighting his own battle, when One slips and turns away, then the others see nothing wrong,” shared the second year student of the institute. IIT campuses are often far from the main city, limiting their scope for social activity, which is another story. While the performance and pressure from ‘tough’ professors is not limited to Telugu students, he says, it coupled with other issues add to the tension. “While studying for M Tech, I was going through depression. While I was working hard to stay focused, academic pressure for my thesis made it very difficult. The professor used to ping me at 5 in the morning, used to call me to reach my cabin by 7 pm. If I missed the message, I would be reprimanded and told how I was not performing,” said an IIT Bombay student.