Eradication of ragging on India’s campuses is as important as teaching complex mathematics and physics.
By Rajendra Kachroo
Founder – Amanmovement.org
Following a landmark judgment by the Supreme Court in May 2009, the University Grants Commission (UGC), framed regulations to curb ragging in India. These regulations have been adopted by all other regulatory authorities like All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE), Dental Council of India (DCI) and Bar Council of India.
The regulations provide college administration with a legal framework under which it can deal with ragging without asking for support from the police. But if the act of ragging constitutes a crime under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) then it is the responsibility of college administrations to report the matter to the police within 24 hours of receiving the complaint.
Ragging has been defined as an act of violence, physical or psychological, between any two – or more -- students, regardless of whether they are seniors or juniors or in the same class.
This definition is different from our conventional – and narrow -- understanding where ragging was taken to be a phenomenon restricted only between a senior student and a fresher.
The definition of ragging was modified, and broadened, because a large number of students who come from economically weaker sections of the society or who are differently-abled or who are shy or who come from rural backgrounds suffer in the hands of bullies from their own class.
The regulations do not distinguish between soft ragging and hard ragging.
Let’s be clear: Any form it takes, ragging is banned not only in college campuses but also in spaces associated with a campus like private hostels and lodges where students stay.
The thrust of the regulations is not on punishment but on prevention of ragging. UGC operates a nationwide anti ragging help line 1800 180 55 22. Students can call this number for help, any time of the day or night.
Message to students
Ragging is not acceptable in any form in any civilised society. It is a myth that ragging enhances the personality of those who are shy; it is also a myth that ragging creates a lifelong brotherly bond between the perpetrator and the victim.
The fact is that ragging inflicts deep wounds that never heal. Students who tolerate the pain and suffering of ragging are equally at fault as those who inflict pain and suffering on them.
Students should not come under peer pressure and endure ragging. Learn to say no to ragging. Those who are cagey about identifying themselves should report anonymously but report they must.
Message to parents
Over 50 years ago, when I was in college, ragging was harmless fun, meant to break ice between new and old students. When my son, Aman Kachroo, joined college, I did not know that over the years this ‘harmless pet’ had undergone metamorphosis into a ‘deadly beast’ that has taken the life of many innocent students and inflicted deep wounds on many others.
I made the mistake of assuming that college authorities will ensure the safety of my son. I was wrong. I have paid a very heavy price for my negligence. I should have known better and taken better care of my son.
My message to all parents of all college-going students in India is that please do not make the mistake of assuming that your children are safe in colleges, particularly when they are in hostels.
You must remain vigilant all the time. You must not ignore even the slightest signs of distress in your children. You must act fast and decisively.
It is most important to have the contact details including phone numbers of the hostel warden and the anti-ragging committee and squad in your daughter or son’s college. And, parents have to make sure that their wards are aware that they can call for help anonymously.
It is imperative to file their online anti-ragging affidavit. Because an online affidavit is not only an undertaking by your son/daughter that he/she will not rag another student, it also creates a contact data base of students and parents of a given college for awareness purposes. It is an important component of ragging prevention programmes
Message to college authorities
The latest incident at Kolkata’s Jadavpur university – where a harassed fresher is said to have died by suicide – and several similar incidents, many of which are not even reported in the media, remind us that there’s a lot more to be done in curbing the menace on Indian campuses.
The official number of ragging cases, which are reported do not tell the whole truth. A primary problem is that heads of institutions in most colleges in India do not agree that ragging is a problem. They believe that academic excellence and prevalence of ragging are independent of each other and their job is to focus on academic excellence.
The message to India’s college authorities is clear: Adjust your priorities to accommodate the critically important issue of putting an end to ragging on the campus.
Teaching complex subjects of mathematics and physics is important but equally – if not more – important is eliminating ragging in colleges.
That’s because by teaching complex mathematics and physics colleges may be able to improve the students’ IQ or Intelligence Quotient. But by eliminating ragging, the students’ EQ or Emotional Quotient will be enhanced.
The five pillars of emotional intelligence, namely self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy & social skills are all destroyed by ragging.
For example, “emotional self-awareness” is one’s ability to know one self and to understand one’s feeling but ragging does not help in building self-awareness. In fact, it completely destroys self-confidence. Similarly, empathy to form connections with others and to understand and acknowledge other’s emotions is an important component of emotional intelligence: Ragging kills empathy in students.
Social skills and warmth contribute to one’s ability to maintain lifelong relationships -- Ragging does not improve one’s social skills, neither does it help spread warmth. Ragging destroys creativity. It destroys one’s ability to think freely.
There are an estimated 20 million students in 50,000 colleges in their third year of college, and they are a critical resource for the country.
It is about time that college authorities in India appreciate that ragging is the biggest enemy of academic excellence. As long as we nurture ragging, we will never achieve academic excellence in India.
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