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Colleges and the Pains that Students Suffer

June 4, 2009

The past few days have been almost entirely about the Indian students in various parts of the world. In India and Australia, primarily. It started with the news of the racial discrimination against Indian students in Australia, and has now progressed to highlight the “capitation fee” scam in the private colleges in the country. For about a week now, people the world over have been hearing a lot about Indian students being ill treated in Australia(and some other parts of the world too), to such an extent that there have been several cases of murder, attempt to murder, suicide, etc. owing to these “racist” factors. It amuses me, in a way, because I thought it was something everyone knew about! Indians are not really given royal treatment in most parts of the world. Not even in India!

When people first spoke of the case Sravan Kumar, my reaction was: “not another case which will be forgotten in less than a week!” But I guess I was wrong. The reason being, several other such cases started to surface. Take for example the case of the 21-year-old Indian student who was slashed across his chest with a box-cutter knife, when he failed to give five Aussie men a few cigarettes and some petty cash. Now isn’t that something which people usually get to hear in the American suburbs?

Exactly my point!

Such things happen ALL the time EVERYWHERE! Just that this is one incident, a series of events, rather, which has managed to surface at the right time. Students are applying to universities and are completing their visa procedures at around this time of the year. Many Indian students will leave the country for their master’s in a couple of months from now. So I guess that is one reason why this has been taken seriously. Had the timing been any different, I seriously doubt if the reaction would have been of this magnitude. Many such news stories never surface.

Let us face it, racial discrimination goes on everywhere. The US, the UK, Canada, Australia, most of Europe, you name it! Though the degree varies from place to place, racism can be described as a “ubiquitous” phenomenon. My friend recently did his project in a very highly reputed college in the US. People would give their right hands for a seat in that college. And this friend of mine tells me that it is not just the students, but faculty and other scientists as well who have to face the brunt of racism. Most countries will deny such things before you can bat an eyelid, but sadly, this is the harsh reality.

Moving on, the next big news this week was about students having a tough time in colleges in India, especially in places like Chennai. A more recent development is the “capitation fees” scandal that has been “exposed” in a couple of medical colleges. Though there is a lot being spoken about in the news, all that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Almost all private colleges Each and every private college in India runs with the sole purpose of minting money for the owner(s). Medical colleges usually fetch the biggest sums, but the student intake is not very high. Engineering colleges get the biggest chunk of students, and so the “capitation fee/donation” is lower. Arts and science colleges have a smaller margin, but the infrastructure hardly costs much either, and so it is still a good bargain.

This whole episode started when a first year student from St. Joseph’s Engineering College committed suicide a few days ago when the college authorities “did not allow him to take his model exams(pre-final exams, towards the end of every semester), because he had cheated during the practical examinations.” Nothing wrong there, if you ask me. However, it goes without saying that the student would not have been allowed to appear in the semester exams conducted by Anna University either. The guy ended up committing suicide, and left behind 4 letters in his shirt pocket. Two of the letters are said to have been burnt by the college authorities upon being discovered. The two letters, according to witness accounts, spoke about the college. One other letter was addressed to the boy’s parents, and the last letter spoke about his reasons for having committed suicide. He urged the college to return the capitation fee his parents had paid because it would help his brother get a much needed ear operation, for which his parents had no way of raising funds. Sad, isn’t it?

The college authorities immediately came out strongly saying that any college would have taken strong action against students who resorted to malpractice in the exams. Fair enough. But the morons went on to say that they “had no intention of preventing the student from taking his semester exams because of such an offence, and that this misconception made him take the drastic step.” Why do I call them morons? Because guys from Jeppiaar Engieering College, a sister concern of St Joseph’s Engineering College, joined their brothers in the strike and brought out cases where 7 students were not given permission to take their semester exams! Not one or two, but 7!

I am really glad that many things have now come out in the open as a result of this controversy, but I feel sad that a student had to lose his life for some people to open their eyes. I find it amusing, because even now, the entire picture has not come out in the open. Colleges collect huge sums of money in the name of “donation/capitation fees” from the students in order to “reserve” seats. Confession: my parents had to shell out Four Lakh Rupees themselves in order to “reserve” a seat in Sathyabama. St Joseph’s and Sathyabama share a compound wall. All owned by the same guy, Jeppiaar, and run by his family. They have 6 Engineering colleges in all, apart from colleges of nursing, dental colleges and even an international school! The average going rate for an engineering seat last year was 4-6 Lakh, with some NRIs having to shell out as much as 12 Lakh for certain seats. And then the tuition fee is an additional 0.75 lakhs(at least) each year. And all this, for an Engineering college which openly refuses to follow the AICTE guidelines and is notorious in the student community! It is no surprise that Jeppiaar is rumoured to have an empire of well over 3,000 Crore! That is 30,000,000,000 Rupees!

My cousin studies in one of the medical colleges which were a part of the “expose.” Luckily for her, high level influence got her a seat without any capitation fee. How much did her classmates have to pay for their seats last year? The lowest was about 45 Lakh, and the highest was up to 75-80 Lakh! And this, just for an MBBS seat! Apparently, an MD in Radiology costs 2 Crore in the same college! Only hard-cash, by the way. THAT is how expensive Sri Ramachandra Medical College is! And there are several hundreds of such students who join each year! Not just that, all this cash is just the under-the-table transaction to book the seat. The actual “tuition fee” needs to be paid each year and that comes up to about 3.25 lakhs a year. Thankfully, at least that bit is declared openly and parents get a receipt, which can be declared which filing income tax returns.

Some students have parents who can handle that kind of money while others have to study using bank loans. But is all this worth it? ABSOLUTELY NOT! The faculty is usually pathetic. Infrastructure is as bad as bad can get. The faculty openly admit that no real practical knowledge can be gained in college because of the lack of infrastructure. Many students come to such colleges due to parental pressure or due to the government’s system which ensures that most deserving candidates don’t get seats in government colleges. It is not that government colleges are any better in terms of faculty or infrastructure, but at least there, there is no “capitation fee.”

And parents are still hell-bent on getting their wards admitted to some such engineering/medical college as they will be “ensuring a bright future” for their kids. Total BS! And now, as if the insane rules and regulations “exposed” last year were not enough, we have this capitation fee scam coming out in the open as well. Something else next year, I am sure. But still, we will find parents forming never-ending queues outside these colleges, even if their kids want to do some very different course like Psychology, Visual Communication or Literature. They know of all the evils and still don’t want to bring about a change. They don’t want to try and bring the evil practices in the open. They don’t want to get themselves in trouble. Why? Because they are “ensuring a bright future” for their kids! Bright, my arse! Effing cretins!

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. subash permalink
    June 4, 2009 3:21 AM

    Nice 1 adi……srry was a lill preoccupied wid wrk cud’nt post comments to ur previous blogs….
    First of all its sad to knw abt students being tortured in the name of racism in almost all parts of the world…..its scary at tyms nd me nd my frnds walk on the de street’s of chicago late at nite after our research wrk….we won’t knw wen we wud be mugged or fall prey to racism….thts the reason we don’t carry mch in the wallet apart frm 2-3 dollar bills…..
    Wen we talk abt the colleges in india(mostly private) are their even enuf qualified prof’s to teach the students……??? capitation nd fees alone mount up to 10 lakhs…..for engg is it even worth it?? nd wat did we gain out of the 4 yrs which we spent in these colleges nothing at all….

  2. bertram wilberforce permalink
    June 4, 2009 12:07 PM

    well , adi racism like you said exists everywhere, even in our country. the whole capitation fees thing is true as well . But racism exists in our country – evem more so . I personally think that the media have blown the issue out of proportion (as usual). For startes , most of those students who got onto trouble were attacked at odd hours by opputunistic hoods.Now anyone can get attacked at that time . Sure now it’s become a big thing and all and the media is out for blood . In our country , a lot of kids get hurt seriously because of ragging. This happened inour college as well.Nobody makes a big deal out of it.yes , that guy in australia got hurt , but before we start pointing fingers elsewhere , i think we need to introspect. (In a way the reason y all of us have to go abroad is becauser of a lousy education system, i dont see the government coming out with real education reform- sorry i am not including quotas.)Racism is present everywhere in our country. it is part of our psyche( Every boy want to have a fair wife), we discriminate on the basis of caste openly- our government does it for god’s sake! But the media chooses to overlook this .
    As far as the capitation fees expose( if you will) is concernes , i personally think the issue the issue will die soon. Capitation fees is an open secret.Oh by the way a minister connected to one of the medical colleges exposed in the scandal , has denied any wrongdoing on his part . Apparently our holy minister had quit from his post as director or something before the election and according to him , only one or two individuals in the college administeration were involved in taking capitation fees.

    As far the suicide is concerned , a particular regional news channel went overbored. Do you know that all the students are on strike right now and demand doing away with with the rules and regulations MAD. Agreed a guy died but it wasnt as if he was mudered .that the first years are involved could mean something.Parents are to blame . I ‘ll admit that but these students are old enough to be sensible and thinkfor themselves -so no sympathy there – i feel for the guy who lost his life , but it seems the rest are just cashing in.

  3. Nandhini permalink
    June 4, 2009 12:31 PM

    Good post, this one!

    I know exactly what goes on in the Jeppiar group of institutions cos I have quite a few friends in those colleges. And I have a friend in Panimalar who cries hoarse about it every single time. He tells me that his real freedom is the day when he graduates out of the shack. πŸ˜› Lol. Rules are not just rules in Jeppiar colleges. They’re death traps.

    Is it really worth shelling out so much of capitation and college fees(yearly tuition fees = capitation/4 πŸ˜€ ) for a course like engineering? Absolutely not. Look at the situation today. There are more engineers on the streets that stray dogs. πŸ˜› And government goes on & on, approving and licensing more colleges to get into the Engineering-business. When the news about the capitation expose broke out, all that I asked my mom was, “Aren’t everyone doing this? Why is this Times Now acting as though it doesn’t exist anywhere except here?”. Seriously, this is nothing but the news channel’s craving for some “exclusive/earth shattering” scoop. :-@ More of a bullshit beat, ask me!

    And now, the Government “promises” to look into the whole issue and take actions. Yeah, right! We believe this one. Infact, almost every politician sitting in the Parliament owns an Engineering/Medical college in some corner of the country and is minting money by seat-reservation. So give the issue another few weeks, the dust will settle and RIP.

    And regarding the racial discrimination – it happens everywhere. Aussie is supposed to be the country where racism against the Indians goes beyond the limit. It’s not the country for Indians, honestly. In fact, my aunt lives there with her family. They’d settled in Melbourne around 18 years back. She tells my mom that in every week, there is an atleast one Australian who yells at her over the counters in the Melbourne railway station(she works there), blaming her if trains get cancelled or some cause to which she is not connected in any way. This doesn’t happen over the other counters where Aussies are in-charge, of course. Indians don’t exactly have a red-carpet treatment anywhere. Oz just happens to tops the list in hostility.

    Oops. Long comment. I’m sure you don’t mind! πŸ™‚ πŸ˜€
    P.s.: Exams are over. Yahoo!!! πŸ˜€
    And good luck with your interview(s)! πŸ™‚

  4. June 4, 2009 1:08 PM

    Delete my last comment. Pasted wrongly.
    *Two discomforts. One- The incident, Two- The article.

    – He was accused of malpractice. In reality he supposedly didn’t know the practical question.
    – He killed himself which is a criminal offence which everyone comfortably forgets.
    – He can’t be deprived of writing end exams just because he failed in one test in the Practical, and that in model. Duh.
    – According to close sources, he is a studious fellow: Typical Nerd.
    – Please consider reading cheap articles like ‘Ten tips to impove your blog’ type Legiya advertisement posts. Search engine optimisation, Site maintenance (after a month also) is poor.
    – Further details- Mail/ Call/ Chat as you please.

  5. July 25, 2010 1:26 AM

    Loved it..good one..if we had been a developd n rich country, i think we wouldnt hv faced so much of racism..i feel sorry for my country..

  6. Rajesh permalink
    September 10, 2010 10:46 PM

    Its torcher not only happened in top university it also happens in south side village college in tirunelveli dt. My friends studyin that college getting irritated my principal for silly reason if coming late to college on morning after 9.10 wants to round the college for 2times if not severe punishment announced by principal wat a rubbish thing done in engineering college this college is near tenkasi . Its an primary school not a college. Staff wont give proper guide lines for students they simply reduce the mark in class test and scold like anything even the boy or girl get good marks in monthly test. Developing the college to good must have proper co operate with students and staff to develop the organisations to achieve success but torcher the students make student to irritate this college then how management wil runs this college to success many friends are so angry wit principal activities. Students expectation about principal is to give guide lines and teach students to handle in proper way teach respect but here principal activities is like a kid of rounding even final year students with juniors wat a life it was it is last suffer in finishing for 5 months . I am typing this now with the cry and pain in heart. Give proper comment for me to encourage n to face this hell college my friends

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