HYD student suicide : why the financial system does not help the marginalised and the poor in India

HYD student suicide : why the financial system does not help the marginalised and the poor in India

Michael (The Jaihind Express Web Desk)

Last week, Aiswarya, a 19-year-old student of Delhi's Lady Shri Ram college (LSR) died by suicide at her home in Telangana, leaving a note that once again highlights the tragedy of thousands of families and students left financially desperate by the virus shutdown. The student's family was desperate to make both ends meet while she asked for a used laptop in October. She had returned to her home in February when the college shut down. She was a second-year student of Maths Honours in LSR college, Delhi, and was the top-scorer in class 12 Board exams with 98.5 percent marks. 

Last Tuesday, when the family was gathered in their living room, the teen went to the only other room and killed herself. "Because of me my family has many expenses, I am a burden to them. My education is a burden. If I can't study, I can't live...Please try and ensure that the INSPIRE scholarship is at least given for a year," said her note in Telugu.

Her mother said the family never realised when she slipped away quietly. "She was going through mental stress due to our financial condition. She had to go to Delhi for her studies, all her friends had started going already, we were trying to take a loan but we could not arrange money. She went into depression," she said. The student was to receive her scholarship of ₹ 1.2 lakh in March but it was delayed, her family said. The INSPIRE scholarship is granted by the Ministry of Science and Technology. 

The suicide is a prime example of why the financial system in the country has already failed to address the needs of people most importantly the marginalised and the poor. Today, the system is designed in such a way that the wealthy and the powerful can avail loans of any amount at lower interest rates using credit scores and hefty bank statements while the poor can go on suffering to make both ends meet. Poor people who already have availed some loans in the past can no longer get access to credit in the country. This is the case with most of the students, as they take education loans to get into college and still become unable to repay them back loosening their credit scores and unable to get any more credit to complete their studies.  It's high time the government should take such financial matters into serious considerations to address the needs of the needy and the marginalised. Students are struggling as they are already in debt for lakhs of rupees while doing their bachelor's. 

In the year 2000, students across the country borrowed Rs 300 crore, but by 2017-18 this climbed to Rs. 71,724 crore. By comparison, in 2018, individual borrowings of up to Rs. 4 lakh made up 85% of the total NPAs. (The average debt disbursed in India is Rs. 9.6 lakh.) The picture is likely quite similar for 2020, except that due to the Covid-19 crisis, some figures for this year are not yet available. The year 2017 saw a decline of 3.3%, 2018 of 4.7%, and 2019 of 5.6% in disbursements of student loans. Due to the growing NPAs of banks, education loans in India have surely declined again—but the figure was already quite high in 2018.

Many small businesses still haven't able to get a grip after the pandemic and the nationwide lockdowns, while the rich and the wealthy have easy access to immense credit to further increase their wealth. Such government policies have had a large impact on why the margin between the rich and poor widens in the country. A Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy study found in May that the unemployment rate had risen to 27.11%, up from 8.74% in March. If necessary reforms are not taken at the right time by the government, nationwide turmoil is on the rise!

With input from trusted sources.