Why do CA students not commit SUICIDE like some KOTA coaching ones

  • Students doing C.A. also fail in large numbers but do not commit suicide? How did I cope with failure? Ideas for Kota Coaching centres to prevent student Suicide.

Suicides by students who go to the Kota Coaching Factory have caught national attention. The deaths hit 25 in 2023 up from 15 in 2022, 10 in 2021, 20 in 2018 and 18 in 2015.


As a Chartered Accountant (CA) the question that struck me was, in CA students fail again and again, yet one not heard of them committing suicide?


Take my own case. I qualified in January 1985. Then, we had to clear Intermediate (Inter) exams first. I failed Inter exams twice. The first time, told parents it was normal since many bright kids failed. The second time, parents were worried. They wondered if I was serious. Friends began to avoid me. Those in the building who were doing C.A. said I should give up C.A. and become a clerk in a nationalised bank. Taunts were the norm.


I was all of 21 then. It was the first time faced failure. My doctor parents wondered whose genes I had because they and siblings had outstanding academic scores.


It was not me alone. A close friend gave only one paper Costing (Final CA) six times. It was common to see people in their 30s and 40s at the examination hall. Pass percentages in Final C.A. then was less than 5 percent (today about 10%).


I had to be thick-skinned, reinvent myself and study harder. But suicide was unthinkable.


How do Kota Coaching (Kota) and CA education (CA) work? 

A reading also explains why CA students do not commit suicide.


Students from primarily North, Central India go to Kota for JEE (IIT) and NEET (Medicine) coaching. They pay and join institute, have to find hostel or paying guest accommodation. Age of joining is between 16 and 18. It is a one year course, all work and no play, post which are entrance exams. My mail to ALLEN coaching, Kota is unanswered.


The seats in IIT/Medical are limited due to reservations and supply constraints. So if Kota students fail entrance exams it is seen to be the end of the world.


A Kota based retired Professor says, “The kind of social set up we have is the root cause and parents the most gullible and misinformed. Children appear to be the quickest ladder up the social scale in terms of success and achievement. Blinded by this glare they fail to see them as human beings. Out in the world for the first time there are the usual social issues of romantic involvement, aggression, that may take them up the crime way. Lack of resources, poor diet, no time for physical activity and no counselors add to the stress. And absence of basic abilities is completely ignored by parents!” We get swayed by huge packages without knowing its components, take home is much lower. 


Conversely, CA students start in the second year of graduation or on completing graduation, age 18-20.


A large number of students from smaller towns go to Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata to work with a Chartered Accountancy firm. They stay in a hostel or as paying guests. Students can walk in and get registered for C.A. even though there is no guarantee one would qualify. There is no reservation or restriction on number of seats.  


Working hours at a CA firm are 10 am onwards. Spare time is used to study for weekend and Inter exams. Students do not to pay fees to C.A. firm. Instead they get a stipend. They visit client office for audit, within and outside town, thus get work exposure at a young age. One gains by meeting different type of people.   


Since Mumbai attracts a large number of students from Rajasthan, the Marwari community made a hostel for students (boys and girls) Rajasthan Vidyarthi Graha Andheri, (RVG Educational Foundation). Their hostel also organises professional talks and celebrates festivals together. Thus, there is bonding, homely feeling and less competitive spirit.


CA exams are every six months while JEE/NEET are once a year.


What is common?

In both cases students come mostly from middle class or lower middle class backgrounds. Both get only Sunday as a holiday. In Kota students only study whilst CA students work and study.


However, in public perception the media build up on JEE/NEET is as if they are do or die exams whilst in CA failure is accepted as normal. In fact, it is jokingly said that CA means Come Again.


Some differences!

In Kota the pressure on students to perform well in entrance tests and exams is  high. If the parent has taken a loan to fund coaching the pressure to succeed is higher. CA students do not take loans but the risk of failure is high. There is no guarantee that a student will become a CA on completion of training just as not every Kota student cracks JEE/NEET. In CA success is known only at the end of atleast three years so uncertainty.


Even if a student does not become a C.A. he/she could get a job. In case of failure, Kota students have to decide career options.


Kota makes students competitive while there is more bonding between C.A. students.


Tanuj Solanki wrote in the Indian Express, “A state of anxiety, a cut-throat-y ethic, and a model in which the future always stood on a butchered present — these were the values Kota imparted.” A perusal of websites of some coaching classes indicates they have opened branches in other parts of India. It is imperative that parents need counselling. They need to realize there are professions beyond engineering and medicine where their children can be financially successful so they must restrain from over pressurising kids. 


When a 16-18 year old child is under so much of pressure, devoid of family support and aware of sacrifice by family, criticism, a few loose comments or obsessive negative thoughts is what it takes to end life.  


Some suggestions

1. Coaching class must mandatorily include a one hour class of Yoga every week and 30 minutes of some form of exercise/relaxation daily.  

2. A weekly Meditation class.

3. Talks on Spirituality for e.g. teachings of the Bhagavad Gita in a contemporary format.


4. General talks by experienced corporate professionals with focus on working life post education and what it takes to succeed.

5. Talks on alternate career options for those who do not get through JEE/NEET.

6. Coaching Institutes must establish trusts that run hostels like RVG does in Mumbai – giving back to society.

7. Parents must be aware of career options and not apply excessive pressure on students to succeed.

8. Talks on how to accept failure. One failure is not the end of life.

9. Students need to be made resilient from the very early ages and parents play the most important role. 


10. Success is important but being fanatical about it is not.

11. The day I joined Hindustan Levers as a trainee, the HR Head told me that my CA degree was a passport to enter the premises, success or failure would depend on my attitude, ability to innovate and motivate teams etc.

12. Government should focus on increasing the number of medical colleges and IITs, which seems to be happening.


13. Pune based Psychologist, Happiness Coach and Mother of XII grader Garima Agrawal says, “Start a national scholarship application platform that every student of grade X across India fills. It should capture their family’s annual income, town of schooling and residence. Trusts offering grants, scholarships or endowments should have access to this database. Based on certain criteria, this application should automatically qualify needy students to avail cheap loans or scholarships to pay for education at pricier private colleges. This will remove the pressure to get into a government college and massively enlarge the number of seats they compete for, in actual practice.”     


In life BALANCE is key, be it at 16 or 60.


Also read

1. Does Kota prepare u for life, JEE, NEET? Ex-Kota students answer

2. A dire Kota scenario calls for the out of box solutions

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