“Watch the rivers flow… see squirrels and colourful butterflies and the chirping of birds… don’t miss anything.”
In an open letter to students of coaching centres across the city, Kota District Collector Ravikumar Surpur has urged them to “go trek a hill… play games (not strange video games)” because “life is beautiful” and that “clearing an exam or two is not everything”.
The letter will be distributed among the students, as the city struggles with unabated student suicides. Kota has been hit by a spate of suicides, with most students citing stress of looming exams or failure to fulfill expectations of their parents, teachers, as the reasons in their suicide notes.
To check the number of suicides, in the last week of December, the district administration had directed coaching institutes to hold a “no-studies, fun-day”, letting students paint, sing, dance and let their hair down for a day. Before that, the administration had instructed the coaching institutes to introduce a mandatory weekly off.
The latest move is the collector’s individual attempt at inspiring students to go on with their preparations for exams without stressing over the outcome.
“You know why we all love cartoons…because they make us laugh and smile…when you are in a tense situation, just start looking at everyone as a cartoon character (and) you will start smiling and laughing,” is one of Surpur’s suggestions to students.
The letter, with cheery faces, smileys and cartoon characters printed on the side, asks students to listen to music, paint and engage in sports. It also says that not all those who cleared “big entrance exams” are really happy and successful people.