Ritesh K Srivastava
Ragging in educational institutions has always been a debatable subject, especially in our country. At regular intervals, the respective state governments and various bodies responsible for improving the state of education in India, have taken preventive measures and issued guidelines aimed at ending the menace of ragging. However, ragging still continues to afflict our Indian educational system and calls for some radical changes in the system.
It was not too long back that a 19-year-old medical student Aman Kachroo succumbed to death after being badly mauled by his seniors in a medical college located in Himachal Pradesh. Much hue and cry was raised over the legitimacy and the concept of ragging in Indian colleges after the shocking incident was covered by media.
Few months later, the issue is back in the spotlight, and this time a student has been at the receiving end in Delhi’s prestigious Kirori Mal College. Thankfully this time, the college authorities have acted swiftly and expelled those who ragged the complainant. Sending a strong message to those who seek malicious pleasure in ill-treating their juniors, the college administration also lodged a criminal complaint against two senior students in this case.
The Supreme Court also came down heavily on ragging in colleges and educational institutions after Aman Kachroo’s shocking death, and subsequently the Centre and the UGC issued strict anti-ragging laws.
A high-level committee, which probed the death of Kachroo, revealed that alcohol was the main reason leading to serious form of ragging and violence in the campus.
However, the frequent recurrence of ragging-related incidents reflects our inability to deal with the issue effectively. It is clear that the menace of ragging cannot be dealt just by enacting several tough legislations. It is something deep-rooted, and related to a student’s psychology, so a ragging victim will have to come forward for help.
The evil of ragging has been present in our colleges and higher institutions of learning from the very beginning, and we all have felt its presence in varying degrees.
The concept of ragging is fine if it is confined to general introduction so as to break away the barriers of hesitation and bridging the gap between the senior and junior students.
Unfortunately, the traditional practice of familiarising beginners with their seniors has now turned into a potent tool for ill-treating and punishing poor students if they fail to obey their seniors.
Those who surrender before their seniors are set free from the torment, but those who refuse to follow their diktats are forced to urinate on high voltage heaters, take part in naked parades, shave off their moustaches and beards, and stand upside down on their heads etc.
Under the pretext of fun, a poor student is often assaulted, stripped and intimidated by his seniors and this ritualised torture leaves an indelible impression on his mind. The chilling incident continues to haunt him throughout his life, and he unknowingly develops various psychological disorders.
After experiencing the evil of ragging, a student develops a feeling of revenge for his ‘unjustified harassment’ and derives pleasure in ragging his juniors on his turn.
So the trend goes on and students continue to suffer.
The situation sometimes turns so bad that it compels the ragging victim to commit suicide. A section of students feel that light ragging should be allowed in educational institutions, while some are totally opposed to the idea and demand stricter punishment for those involved in it.
It is high time that the state governments must take adequate steps to ensure the effective implementation of the recommendations of RK Raghavan Committee. Educational institutions must now take the onus for preventing ragging themselves, failing which, the Centre should block all budgetary allocations to them.
Besides, anti-ragging squads and committees should be constituted at the district, State and central levels to monitor such incidents.
Educational institutions must take steps to ban consumption of liquor and drugs on college campus. The government must approve harsher penalty for those found guilty of ragging, and they must be immediately expelled from their respective schools and colleges.
The menace of ragging, which brings disgrace to the institutions of higher learning, can be eradicated by self-help, so it is imperative that the victims don’t hesitate, come forward and open up.