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May 12, 2009

Eradicating ragging

The growing incidence of ragging in various educational institutions of the country has been a most disturbing development. While a number of ragging cases resulting in death, suicide, and serious physical and mental injury besides jeopardising promising careers have been reported with increasing frequency, the menace is far widespread than what is reported, with a large number of cases going unnoticed. Ragging invariably involves gross violations of human rights something that has prompted the Supreme Court to intervene and pass strict strictures against the practice, declaring it a criminal offence. Although ragging has ruined many young lives, resistance against this social evil – be it on the part of the State governments or the educational institutions or civil society — has been far from the desired. While strict implementation of the anti-ragging legislations is a must to curb it, we also need a forceful social mandate against ragging. This is because ragging strangely continues to enjoy a passive social acceptance, and is regarded by many as an inseparable part of the initiation into college education.

Even today, only the extreme cases get reported and minor cases are wrapped under the carpet because either the victims are too scared or traumatised, or the college authorities are too preoccupied with saving their institution’s reputation. Ragging, as a multi-dimensional problem, is far more complicated than is generally assumed. The menace needs to be tackled in its multiple dimensions if it is to be eliminated. The law-enforcement aspect apart, it is a psychological aberration on the part of those indulging in the outrage. The problem creates a vicious cycle, with the victims themselves turning into perpetrators of the crime the very next year. There is obviously room for sensitisation and counselling besides dissemination of information through different channels. Anti-ragging lessons should also be incorporated in the high school curricula so that young minds develop a strong sense of revulsion against the crime. Since the college and hostel campuses are the centres of ragging, the problem is unlikely to subside if the college authorities continue to take a lenient view of the worsening situation. The institutional authorities should put in place an effective monitoring mechanism taking into confidence the senior students besides ensuring that the anti-ragging guidelines are enforced strictly with cooperation of the State government and police. Education, awareness and enforcement should form part of an integrated approach to root out the evil from as sacred a sphere as education. ASSAM TRIBUNE

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