In-Depth & Data

Deluded happiness under increasing stress of engineering students in India

Indian Institute of Technology Madras. (Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

By Sonalika Goswami

Boston University News Service

Happiness can be subjective. People pursue happiness according to what it means for them. With World Happiness Day recently celebrated on March 20, problematic issues cloaked with delusions of happiness persist across the globe and specifically India.

“We don’t know the meaning of happiness”, said Lohit Paul, a 25-year-old second year M.Tech student from National Institute of Technology Durgapur in West Bengal.

In India, a third year student at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras committed suicide, marking the school’s third incident in a month and the 11th case since 2018. A data sent to the ministry of home affairs by all states that year showed that at least one student in India commits suicide every 55 minutes. 

A 25-year-old first year M.Tech student from IIT Bombay, Ayush Bajaj said that people are deluded by the kind of impression they will form for themselves in the society after graduating and landing in some fancy job. They seek the society’s appreciation for their work. 

“It motivated me to do this,” Bajaj said.

Bajaj’s brothers are engineers too and has inspired him growing up. Mostly people apply under the influence of their parents but Bajaj’s parents never forced him to pursue this line.

“Parents like mine are rare,” he said. “Most parents put a burden of expectation on their children thinking if they get into IIT they will have a high profile job.”

The state level college Bajaj graduated from had minimal curriculum but when he joined IIT the syllabus and competition dumbfounded him. 

“Everyday we have assignments,” he said. “We have to do some work, some research work on a daily basis. Like in a period of six to eight months, we have to do five to ten assignments for each subject.”He also said that three to four exams are assigned to them per subject per semester. According to him, the pressure “is not worth it if you are not passionate about it.” 

The excellent job packages the students get placed with globally, graduating from these colleges allure them to take admission and justifies the hard work the students go through. A total of 1,026,799 applicants had appeared for the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) in 2022. This is a required examination to get admitted into any engineering courses in India. 

Trijita Chakraborty, former career counselor at Amity University, Kolkata, said the key points that the students look for are mostly monetary satisfaction. 

“Once you get into a job you understand that there are other factors as well… but as a student the first thing that comes to your mind is the money,” Chakraborty said. “At a young age you don’t think beyond that.”

The students mostly come to her seeking guidance for courses which lead to fruitful job opportunities. 

“But there is no 100% assurance because, ultimately, you have to perform on those interviews,” she said. 

Chakraborty said the large courses containing heavy information in engineering that the students have to complete in a semester are difficult and can cause suicides.

“They have to complete a certain amount of their syllabus within a certain period of time which itself creates a lot of pressure,” she said.

Bajaj said that minimal help is provided by the professors in these institutions. Various workshops and events are held in IIT Bombay which can help the students but “the students try to hide these things.”

“If they have some phobia about things, they will avoid telling anyone about it,” said Bajaj, whose classmates, too, are finding it difficult to cope with the courses. 

An alum of University of Engineering and management, Sayak Bhattacharjee said, “What I remember is that nothing is happy about doing engineering.”

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