NEW DELHI : Every now and then, one of India’s most prestigious engineering colleges cuts off power to its hostels for an hour in the evening.
The practice, at IIT Kharagpur, is not to save electricity or cut costs. It is instead part of efforts to get students to mingle — contact that officials hope will help cut stress after three of its students killed themselves between January and April 2017.
IIT Kharagpur is part of the country’s marquee Indian Institutes of Technology colleges that lakhs vie for each year. Only a few thousands make it, entering a college of intense competition with some of the best minds to grab top jobs at the end of the course.
“Students are meeting increasingly less. This naturally creates a lot of problems as they end up being alone. This step will help them connect when they take a ten minutes coffee or tea break,” said Manish Bhattacharya, dean of students affairs of IIT Kharagpur, while explaining another effort to draw students out by installing vending machines for free tea and coffee. The machines, for which a Japanese company has been roped in, will be in place from the academic year beginning this summer.
The blackout hours are helping, students say. “It was like an outreach programme where the administration wanted to speak to us… tell us what had happened and how it was important to be connected with fellow students. Many came out of compulsion but realised that it helped. Students interacted with each other, even discussing the suicides that had been troubling for many of us,” said Anisha Sharma, a student.
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Source: Hindustan Times