STOP Ragging In Educational Institutes

Madhavi Chopra

It has been rightly said that the end may not always justify the means. Behind the façade of ‘welcoming’ new students to college, ragging, in actuality, is a notorious practice wherein the senior students get an excuse to harass their junior counterparts, and more often than not, make them easy targets to satiate their own perverse sadistic pleasures. Apart from sustaining grievous physical injuries, those unfortunate students who succumb to ragging either develop a fear psychosis that haunts them throughout their lives, or worse, quit their college education even before it begins. For any student who slogs day and night to secure admission into a prestigious college, ragging can be his or her worst nightmare come true. It would not be an exaggeration to say that, today, ragging has taken the shape of a serious human rights violation with even the most respected and disciplined educational institutes falling prey to it.

Meaning Of Ragging

In common parlance, ragging means playing practical jokes on somebody or teaching someone a lesson.

According to the Chambers English Dictionary,
Ragging is an outburst of organized horseplay, usually in defiance of  authority, riotous festivity, especially of under-graduates in British Universities, associated with the raising of money for charity.

According to the Reader’s Digest Great Encyclopedia Dictionary,

“Ragging means a noisy disorderly conduct, annual parade of students in fancy dress to collect money for charity, playing rough jokes, or throwing into wild disorder a person’s room etc.”

The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India perhaps has given a more comprehensive meaning of ragging as under:

“Ragging is any disorderly conduct, whether by words spoken or written, or by an act which has the effect of teasing, treating or handling with  rudeness any student, indulging in rowdy or indisciplined activities which cause or are likely to cause annoyance, hardship or psychological  harm or to raise fear or apprehension thereof in a fresher or a junior  student and which has the effect of causing or generating a sense of shame or embarrassment so as to adversely affect the psyche of a fresher or a junior student.”

Origin Of Ragging

Today, ragging may have become deep rooted in the Indian educational set up, but many would be surprised to know that ragging is originally a western concept. Ragging is supposed to have its creation in certain European Universities where seniors played practical jokes at the time of welcoming freshmen to the institutions. Gradually, the practice of ragging became popular throughout the world. However, with time, ragging assumed obnoxious and harmful connotations and was severely condemned. Today, almost all countries of the world have enacted stern laws that ban ragging and it has been completely eradicated in countries such as Canada and Japan. But sadly, India, which inherited ragging as a legacy from the British Raj, has not been able to free itself from the clutches of this inhuman practice. It can be said, without any room for doubt, that the worst form of ragging is committed in India. Infact, according to a research conducted by CURE , India and Sri Lanka are the only two countries in the world where ragging exists.

Forms Of Ragging: From Bad To Worse

It is said that man’s imagination knows no bounds. Very true, but when it comes to ragging, it can be rightly said that man’s perverted imagination too knows no bounds! From what was intended to provide good humour and harmless fun to students, ragging today has assumed torturous, vulgar and inhuman forms that defy all norms of decency and morality. Some of the most popular forms of ragging in colleges are:

1. Dress Code Ragging : The freshmen are asked to dress in a specific dress code for a particular period of time. But this isn’t as easy as it seems. For the dress code prescribed is generally weird, eg., dressing totally in white or black with the hair oiled and combed in a particular style. The dress code ragging may make the freshmen feel awkward and uncomfortable as it often brings them unnecessary attention from everybody.

2. Formal Introduction : This involves asking the freshmen to introduce themselves in ‘Shudh Hindi’. The introduction includes the freshmen’s name, address, school, marks, etc.

3. Verbal Torture : Verbal torture involves indulging in loose talks. The freshmen may be asked to sing the lyrics of any vulgar song or use abusive language while talking to the seniors.

4. Sexual Abuse : This is the severest form of ragging that takes place in colleges. The seniors are mainly interested in ‘juicy’ details such as the anatomical description of one’s body parts, his or her sexual interests, etc. In many cases, the freshmen have been asked to strip before the seniors.

5. Playing The Fool : The freshmen may be asked to enact scenes from a particular movie or mimic a particular film star. In many cases, the seniors may also ask the freshmen to do silly things like climbing a tree, kissing a tree, proposing to someone from the opposite sex, etc.

6. Hostel Ragging : Outstation students who stay in the hostel are most vulnerable to ragging. They may be asked to do all odd acts from cleaning the room of seniors to washing their clothes, from fetching them water or milk to completing their assignments.

7. Drug Abuse : This can be the worst form of ragging wherein the freshmen are forced to try drugs thereby driving them into addiction.

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