Sunday, August 16, 2009

RAGGING - Who's the VICTIM?

Hi,

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In the green campus of NIT Warangal, there lives a student called Mr. X of Hyderabad. He had just come back from home to study his 2nd year in the college. As was the case with all the 2nd years, he was much enthusiastic about ragging the freshers. Why shouldn't he be? After all, his seniors got their share of entertainment by ragging him in his 1st year. So, why should he be denied of the pleasure? So he and some of his goodfellas, picked up a fresher, and ragged him. But, they did a mistake. They crossed a line, they shouldn't have. They ragged a Godavari guy. Yes, that's the unspoken rule here. You don't mess with other division's guy or you will be messed up.

We can discuss volumes about the racism going on nowadays, in engineering colleges, but let's get to the point for now. So, the Godavari seniors, somehow caught wind of the incident. With the cruel intention to screw our hero( Mr.X ), they complained directly to the DGP of warangal. An FIR was filed against X.

When college administration interrogated him about the incident, X told the names of his fellow raggers also, as advised by his lawyer. The college administration feared that the college's reputation would be threatened, when the news hits the front pages. It negotiated with the Warangal police somehow. Finally our Mr.X, got the sharp edge of the sword, 6 months suspension from college along with a huge amount of compensation.

Now, you must be really curious to know, what actually these bunch of guys did in the name of ragging. All they did was, making that fresher, dance and sing.

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The above story is the most rumored version of the true incident, that took place ( Names excluded for obvious reasons ). In the other version, the parents themselves complained directly to the DGP of Warangal. This is a perfect example of what politics goes on behind ragging. While our X was not completely innocent, he was not the sole criminal ( if you can call it a crime) either. An innocent endeavor to interact with his freshers, got his whole career ruined.

What is ragging? The legal definition is given as:
"'Ragging' means the doing of any act which causes, or is likely to cause any physical, phsycological or physiological harm of apprehension or shame or embarrassment to a student, and includes– (a) teasing or abusing of playing Practical joke on, or causing hurt to any student. or (b) asking any student to do any act, or perform any thing, which he/she would not, in the ordinary course, be willing to do or perform."
Why ragging goes on, in colleges? To answer this we have to get down to the origin of this popular ragging culture. Like all other things, ragging, traveled from west to east. It originated in European Colleges, where seniors played practical jokes at the time of welcoming freshers ( In America it is called hazing). Initially it was limited to that scope. But after World War I, the students who fought the war, brought with them, the severe ways of ragging practiced at the army camps. Well, these ways of ragging may be OK for an army man, but not for an ordinary and more sensitive person. It soon became a menace, and hence came the term ragging for ragging.

The students who are ragged in their first year, feel they have an inherent authority to rag their juniors, in their 2nd year. They feel that they are more mature than the freshers, while the truth is that, they are still amateurs. They are still to understand the world's ways, still to sort out their own emotions. They are provided with perfect specimen, in the form of freshers, to show their domination and maturity upon. So, they make the freshers do things, which pleases their sense of maturity. And many a times, they cross the line.

This ragging culture cherished more in India than ever. It became an excuse for students with criminal minds, to satisfy their fervor for committing crime, by assaulting young students. Incidents where extreme ragging ( beating, sexually abusing ....) came into picture. But these were isolated and rare incidents which, unfortunately, filled the mental picture of the term ragging for public. As a result, parents,public and government unified and took an initiative against ragging. But, instead of bringing an equilibrium, this anti-ragging movement, which has started, is reaching the other extreme.

Now ragging in any institution is an official crime. And you will be interested to know what ragging means in government language:
Any conduct whether by words spoken or written or by an act which has an effect of teasing, treating or handling with rudeness any other student, indulging in rowdy or undisciplined activities which causes or is likely to cause an annoyance, hardship or psychological harm or to raise fear or apprehension thereof in a fresher or a junior student or asking the student to do any act or perform something which such student will not in the ordinary course which has the sense of causing or generating a sense of shame or embarrassment so as to adversely affect the physique or psyche of a fresher or a junior student.
The above is an excerpt from UGC REGULATION ON CURBING THE MENACE OF RAGGING IN HIGHER EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS 2009.

Now, by that definition I have a high risk of getting behind the bars, if I mere, talk with my juniors. So how am I or for that matter, any senior is to build interaction with juniors? While previously it were juniors, who walked in the corridors in constant fear of falling prey to the seniors, now it's the other way round, as seniors are avoiding juniors, in fear of getting caught talking to them.

And what makes the matter worse is, if any incident of ragging were to be brought to the attention of the law, the college, without looking into the truth and lies of it, immediately expels the student, well before his trial and the judgment of the court, in the name of maintaining their reputation.
Delhi University's Kirori Mal College on Monday expelled two students and rusticated another for allegedly ragging a junior in the hostel and decided to file a police complaint. The accused, however, have denied the charges and said their side of the story was not heard. Recently JNU Delhi expelled 4 students, who were caught ragging a fresher.

I am not supporting ragging, nor am I against it. What I am saying is,
ragging is just the tool for increasing friendly interaction, between seniors and juniors, which is so important for college and hostel life. Sometimes, it is misused by some bad persons, but what in this world is not? As good old Gandhiji taught us, stone for stone, is not the answer. Creating such senseless laws can either, cutoff the bond between seniors and juniors completely, replacing it with harshness and bitterness , or increase the rebellious nature of students to aggravate ragging and taking it to new zeniths.








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