A promising young student with a stellar academic record in a premier institute committing suicide inevitably becomes grist to the rumour mill. In an elite institution like the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), there exists an institution within the institution, a sort of wheel within a wheel. This immediate support system for any Malayali student, in an institution outside the state naturally comprises fellow Malayalis. When an institution fails its wards, it is also a failure of this support system. Without venturing into speculative territory I would like to recount my experience as a student at New Delhi’s quasi-elite Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).
Politics is the only glue and solace that holds the Malayali intellectual community together. Cultural cohesiveness unfortunately is mostly absent. And IITs are notoriously apolitical campuses. The absence of a conducive political milieu is immensely detrimental even to those Malayali students who are apolitical.
During my stay in JNU as a masters and later research student, I faced umpteen instances of ostracization and humiliation from my own co-religionists hailing from my home state of Kerala. It was only due to the love and affection shown me by professors from Bengal and other parts of North India, that I survived unscathed. (All the three professors who showed me the door ironically were from the South). Suicide was always an option. I had to consult multiple counsellors who never could grasp the depth of my issue as comprehensively as someone from Kerala could have.