Thursday, August 09, 2007

Ragging in our colleges

Ragging in Indian colleges is a given. It may be better than before, but there is no reason as to why a student, entering a college for higher education, has to obey the wishes of a person just because the person is a senior. There is no legal reason, and given the number of cases of ragging which turn ugly, there is no moral reason to have ragging exist. It is talked about as being a good way to bring about a closer interaction between seniors and juniors, but that is possible through more mentoring (assigning a senior to a junior as a mentor), or through more cultural and other such programmes where cross-year teams are encouraged. It is a bogus argument that forcing a student to suddenly start singing, or to go and propose to a girl, or to do other such things are okay.
An activity being okay is from the perspective of the person being forced to do it, and from my experiences in college, most freshers are happy at doing this because they are relieved that it was not something more. There is no basic desire to do such forced events. In fact, many students have a dread about the first days of college because they fear as to what ragging will bring to them. I remember from college of more than a decade past that college authorities had anti-ragging squads, but these would not reach the classrooms or inside the hostels, which is where most of the ragging had shifted to.
So, the Supreme Court implemented a set of measures in the current year which made ragging an offense, instructed colleges to take it more seriously, and file police cases. Colleges did not take too kindly to this intrusion, protesting that ragging was not so bad in their campuses, or that police cases would harm the careers of students who are affected, and so on. So, let us take a couple of cases from this year:

The ragging complaint rocked the Government Dental College and Hospital on Monday when the father of a student told the college authorities that his son had been subjected to physical abuse.
A committee member said, "We are going to question all the senior students in the college, who have been accused of brutal ragging sessions which include physical abuse. We will also look into the letter submitted by the student’s father to college authorities."

When a committee is setup, you mostly know that there's not going to be any action. And here's another one:

The parents of a first- year MBBS student on Wednesday alleged their son was driven to suicide after being "severely ragged" in Government Medical College and Hospital, Chandigarh.
They said Manjot returned home after being severely ragged by senior students at GCMH and committed suicide. Manjot joined classes on July 21, phoned home saying he was "upset" in Chandigarh and that he would come back as soon as possible. "The very next morning he returned," Milap said. When the parents returned after shopping on Sunday, they found him on the bed "motionless", he said, claiming the boy had ingested some "poisonous substance". "Later, friends of Manjot told us he underwent severe ragging in college and then went into a depression," he said.

It should be very clear that ragging is not an entitlement, and is a criminal activity. As long as it has social sanction, there will be people who will feel that they are entitled to torture their juniors and get away with it. They do not have any authority to do it, and should face the required action.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 11:57 AM