Published: 09th November 2020
Did the delay in INSPIRE scholarship cause the LSR student to take her life? Or is the truth being stretched here?
A BSc Mathematics student of Delhi University's Lady Sri Ram College for Women, Aishwarya died by suicide on November 3
Due to the non-disbursal of the INSPIRE scholarship (released by the Department of Science and Technology), a student of Lady Sriram College under Delhi University was forced to commit suicide 4 days ago. The Students' Federation of India demands the immediate disbursal of all national fellowships and to continue the disbursal unfailingly every month, read a statement by the Students' Federation of India.
They were condemning the death of Aishwarya Reddy, a II Year BSc Physics student at the University of Delhi's Lady Sri Ram College for Women. Aishwarya had died by suicide on November 4.
The student's death has caused a lot of hue and cry among the student community across the country, which had been actively raising its voice against online education. The SFI and the NSUI had called for protests condemning this. They've also been demanding justice and a timely disbursal of the INSPIRE scholarship to all the eligible students.
But is this necessarily the only reason why she ended her life?
Speaking with EdexLive, an INSPIRE scholar at the University of Delhi said that the students receive their scholarship only by the end of their third semester. "I have qualified for the scholarship and have updated my bank details with the ministry as soon as their notification came. The funds are expected to reach my bank account only by the end of the year. That is the usual norm," he says. "Eligible students usually receive the scholarship amount of Rs 1,20,000 at that time," he says. Another INSPIRE scholar, who is a III year BSc Physics student also said something similar. "Last year, all of us received Rs 1,20,000 between October and December. This is the norm. However, we are expecting a delay in disbursal this year, since the department is yet to seek our bank details."
At the same time, a statement by the SFI reads, "Unfortunately, the scholarship, which was to provide her with some relief, was not disbursed since March, resulting in extreme financial pressure." The student political organisation also said that the students are forced to run from pillar to post to get their scholarship amount disbursed on time. The researchers across the country have been stating a delay in stipend disbursal since the beginning of the year.
Financial struggles aplenty
Around the time when DU decided to conduct its classes online, owing to COVID and the lockdown, the students' union of the LSR, conducted a survey to identify the digital divide. One of the respondents, Students' Union General Secretary Unnimaya says, was Aishwarya Reddy, II year BSc Mathematics student.
Responding to the questionnaire, Aishwarya is believed to have said that she had no access to a regular internet connection and had to spend extra money on data packs every day. "They are teaching well but I don't have a laptop, and my mobile is not working well so I am unable to attempt any practical paper," she responded, answering the survey.
What pushed her to the edge?
Was it money? Wast it access? Perhaps the answers lie in the suicide note. "No one is responsible for my death. I am the reason for my family's growing expenses, my education. But I cannot continue to live if I am denied an education," reads her suicide note written in Telugu. "I have been thinking about this for many days and I have come to the conclusion that death is the only apt option. People will make untoward speculations about my death but I know no sin. Please ensure my family receives the INSPIRE scholarship for a year at the least. Everyone, please forgive me. I am not a good daughter," she wrote.
Speaking at a press conference, Aishwarya's mother too stated that the family had been under a lot of stress financially and is in dire need of money. The family had allegedly pledged money and mortgaged gold for Aishwarya to continue her education.
If you're suicidal, please seek help:
AASRA: This Mumbai-based NGO is dedicated to people with suicidal tendencies and battling anxiety and depression. Their 24-hour suicide helpline number is +91-22-27546669
Sneha Foundation: This Chennai-based NGO is also dedicated to supporting individuals who are depressed, distressed, or suicidal. Their 24-hour helpline +91-44-24640050
iCall: Tata Institute of Social Sciences' helpline for the psychologically distressed has a team of mental health professionals helping individuals across various languages and regions. The helpline number (+91-22-25521111) is available Monday to Saturday from 8 am to 10 pm.
7 Cups of Tea: This website and app (available on iOS and Android phones) is an online chat platform offering live support to the depressed and anxious.
The Pink Project: This Mumbai-based mental health initiative, founded by two psychologists, is offering free online counselling during the COVID-19 crisis.
People Tree Maarga: Bengaluru-based People Tree is offering free telephonic counselling between 10 am and 11 pm to those stressed or anxious due to COVID-19. The helpline number is 080-46659999
_vibewithvishuddha: This page on Instagram encourages you to talk about your feelings and emotions or just vent. Just say 'hi' and they'll get in touch.