The accurate meaning of the word ‘ragging’ is to ‘tease’, but even the dictionary says it is an archaic meaning.
The main objective of ragging is to ‘break the ice’ between the senior students and the new entrants. By means of an interaction, they get close and know each other. But in practice, it is noting but a kind of torture.
Ragging is any disorderly conduct whether spoken or written or by an act which causes annoyance, hardship or psychological harm or raises fear or shame in a student. It is generally committed by ‘senior’ students, upon the first year students.
Ragging generally takes place in colleges and hostels. They are many tales of torture and humiliation that are associated with ragging. The new students feel that they are in for a series of practical jokes at the hands of the senior students. Once they fall into the clutches of the latter, they don’t find a way to escape. There are a few senior students in every hostel who don’t take enough interest in studies. They indulge in ragging, bullying etc. They create an image of themselves as rowdies. No one dares to interfere with their ways.
Ragging originated in the west. But today, it has reached the Indian society too. For an estimated sis million young students enrolled in approximately India’s 335 universities and 17,000 colleges are contaminated by ragging. At the start of every academic session, the media brings the news of suicides by new entrants, who no longer can bear the disgrace, ignominy and dishonor inflicted on them by their seniors. Ragging has caused intense fear and shattered the trust and ability of the new students to make sound judgment about the people (seniors) around them.
Some people feel that it is a socio-cultural problem. The truth is that in some cases, ragging has occasionally, ended in fighting, serious injuries, and even deaths, leading to the ruin of some brilliant careers.
Senior students tease the new students about their looks and manners. The tall and the short, the fat and the lean, all become easy targets. Students wearing glasses, have their glasses snatched away and are made to read without them. Few of the, are made too bow before the senior students and forced to greet them with folded hands. Sometimes the eatables brought by the new students are eaten by the seniors in the formers’ presence.
Ragging is a short of mock interview of the new entrants. The senior students take the position of the interviewers, while the new students become the interviewees. Sometimes, there are probing and indecent questions about the minutes details that hardly matter.
A new student who resists becomes a target for harassment. He might be falsely accused of stealing a thing or things from a senior. He would be put on a mock-trail. During the trail, he might be forced to admit his guilt, he is pressurised by physical threats and humiliation. After the trail, the accused asked to polish the shoes of his senior students. He could be asked to clean the clothes even. If the new entrants complains to the warden or any other authority, he becomes a target of regular harassment.
As students come from different backgrounds, ragging can have different effects on different individuals. Sometimes, senior students indulge in smoking, alcoholism and drug abuse that compels the new students also to initiate in bad habits.
Ragging has some positive effect too on the new students. It influences the new students to behave in a socially acceptable way. It makes one change one’ eccentric behavior. It creates self- awareness. Those who endure it get emboldened. They become courageous. They get used to facing hardships in life. They learn to face unpleasant situation boldly. Many a time, it is seen that the juniors and the seniors become very good friends after the ragging period.
In the beginning, ‘ragging’ was an amusing practice. it has degenerated into an evil. It has become a synonym for ‘torture’. It should be banned. The supreme court of India has defined it as. “Any disorderly conduct whether by words spoken, or written or by act which adversely affect the physique or psyche of fresher or a junior student is an act of ragging.” But if through ragging the decency and morals are violated, one’s body gets injured, if any wrongful restraint and criminals intimidation is involved in it, then ragging becomes a legal offence. For such cases, there are certain punishments in UGC’s anti-ragging guidelines which includes a fine upto RS 25,000, cancellation of admission, with holding scholarship, debarring from appearing for exams, suspension or expulsion from hostel ad rustication from a period of one to four semesters.
Even the institutions where ragging is prevalent could be punished by withdrawing of affiliation or other privileges and debarring from awarding any degree and withholding grants. Most authorities have tackled the problem with an iron hand. More effective steps need to be taken to deal with the evil. Institutes should arrange counseling session for fresher so that they can speak their mind. Anti ragging cells should also be established. A fresher party should be organized by the institutes itself within town weeks of the academic session so that junior and senior can easily interact with one another.