A second-year student studying mathematics honours at Lady Sri Ram College, Delhi died by suicide on November 3, 2020. She was the state topper in class 12th examinations and was awarded the ‘Inspire’ scholarship by the Department of Science and Technology because of her outstanding result in the 12th examination. The Rangareddy resident had mortgaged her house to pursue higher studies. The scholarship was therefore a relief to her and the family. However, the scholarship was delayed since March resulting in financial pressure. Her suicide note in Telugu states that no one was responsible for her death and that she felt burdened as her family had been spending a lot of money on her studies, leading suicide as her only resort.
In a survey conducted by the LSR Student’s Union, Rani (name changed) had clearly mentioned how she was facing troubles with the connection and could only attend few hours of the classes as she lacked equipment. She further mentioned that she could not give best to her studies as the study material was not available to her and the timings of her class clashed with her household work. In her suicide note she wrote ‘I cannot live because I cannot study’, signalling how burdened she was. According to her friend as reported by news click, Rani was asked to vacate the hostel room in middle of the pandemic resulting in added pressure.
SFI LSR are calling it an ‘Institutional murder’ holding the government institutes responsible for the suicide. They have called out the government, the college and the university for the lack of empathy towards the deceased student and also towards those students who are facing financial problems due to loss of income. LSR students say that her death is a reminder of how even the most prestigious institutions of India are unable to protect the most vulnerable students of all, driving them to take such drastic steps.
LSR claims that their policies have been very transparent regarding hostel accommodation being for one year and that the ‘name of the deceased’ had never approached the department/college or faculty for help. LSR alumni association ELSA says that the college has a certified counsellor to help students at all times.
Students have been demanding disbursal of fellowships, as they pointed out that University Grants Commission (UGC) has frozen the disbursal of Junior Research Fellowships (JRF) and Senior Research Fellowships (SRF). The tenure of JRF scheme is of two years and for the candidates who qualify the National Eligibility Testing (NET) and the UGC-Council of Scientific and Industrial Research joint test. Research scholars across the country have complained about the delay in payment of scholarships in August. Rajnish Jain, UGC Secretary has said that the disbursal was delayed citing some technical issues.
The University Grants Commission however has now said that it will disburse the pending scholarships to Junior Research Fellows and Senior research fellows within a week. A JRF scholar gets Rs 31,000 per month while an SRF scholar gets Rs 28,000.
This information might be triggering, if you or someone you know needs help call 1800-599-0019 to reach KIRAN, it is a 24/7 national helpline set by the Ministry of Social Justice or Sumaitri (Delhi) 011-23389090.