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Ragging: A Criminal Act?

July 22, 2014

Ragging: A Criminal Act?

Ragging was supposed to be harmless fun where students could mix and become friends with their seniors at educational institutes. In India it has taken an ugly face. Every year incidents are reported where students are beaten and killed by their seniors, many young people commit suicide than face the humiliation of ragging. And, for every case that is reported in the media, there are thousands of cases of making students do unspeakable things in the name of ragging. We question whether ragging should be treated like any other crime or whether it serves a useful purpose.

Mr A :- The issue of ragging comes into limelight every academic year when some students either commit suicide or are murdered in some college of higher learning in India. Mostly government institutes are named in ragging excesses cases. Our society has been unable to deal with the problem; apart from condemning the incidents every year, the government has not done anything. The present debate is whether ragging is another form of crime, but I feel that everyone should not be painted with the same brush. It is good fun to interact with new students and to make friends. If some people go overboard and commit crimes, they should be dealt with according to the law. But to ban ragging or to say that students who indulge in it are criminals, is going too far.

 Mr B :- You may be right but facts do not match up to your statement that ragging is mere fun. Young students have died. They have been stripped and made to do sexually degrading acts. I fail to see how these humiliating acts will result in any kind of friendship. On the contrary, young students may start disliking their studies. There have been cases where students have run away from their institutes or tried to kill themselves rather than spend days of being beaten or exploited. Unfortunately, only the murders and suicides get the attention of the media. If the daily humiliation was reported, we would realize the extent of this disease that has crept into education institutes. The problem seems to be severe in prestigious institutes like medical and engineering colleges, but even in other cities and small towns every group of senior students seems to take delight in the sadism they are able to inflict on helpless fresh students. Instead of making learning fun, these students, who are nothing short of goondas, ruin careers and lives. It is for this reason that we should be able to say that enough is enough, and that ragging is nothing but criminalisation.

 Mr C :-  You have a point there. Ragging is not recognized as a crime, even though it has serious consequences. So students who indulge in it know that they can roam around scot-free despite committing the most heinous of crimes. Juniors suffer in silence because they are beaten up if they complain. In the highly improbable event of being caught, they are suspended for some time, or in the worst case, they might be expelled. So they go somewhere else and finish their education. These criminals go about their lives without any fear of punishment. Is it a surprise that our society is becoming more and more violent? When people fight on the streets, or when they beat up their families, or when policemen beat up suspects mercilessly, it is just because they were not punished for doing similar things in college. Our society is paying the price of letting people with sadist tendencies to go scot-free. I would say it is high time we put a stop to this. Ragging should be equated with crime.

 Mr D :-  Friends, you seem to forget that not all ragging is bad. In most cases we just have fun. People open out and become confident. They are not scared of anything anymore. I would say that ragging should not be banned, since it helps in many ways. As seniors we see a lot of fresh students and there is no way of getting to know them. In many colleges where there is no ragging, students go about their studies and pass their three or four years without getting to know their seniors or their juniors. Through ragging we can make a lot of friends; at least we know who is doing what.

 Mr E :-  I am afraid that these are myths that are propagated to continue an evil practice of ragging. No one makes friends by being subjected to sexual torture, or by being beaten up. Also, do not expect anything from the Supreme Court or the government, apart from strong statements. Ultimately the responsibility lies on the institute, and unfortunately, heads of institutes are busy protecting their own turf than bother about hostels. They have no idea what is going on in their own institutes. Even after a murder, the institute first tries to cover up, then denies responsibility. We have seen this happen wherever cases have been reported. As for the Supreme Court, how will it ensure that its directives are being heard in the states? Please remember that only extreme cases reach the Court’s notice. Can it ensure speedy justice for murders and sexual crimes before the senior students are released on bail and the case forgotten? I think these crimes require exemplary punishment but it is doubtful that the courts will ever do that. So young people will continue to
suffer the indignities of going to college.

 Mr A :-The problem exists, no doubt, and some demented students have given a bad name to ragging. Beating up students or making them do degrading acts are certainly reprehensible, but let us not ban ragging altogether. More control is needed at the college level. Unfortunately, the teachers and the institute heads have failed to fulfil their duties. If only they are made accountable, such things might cease. So the idea is to control such incidents and I would say ragging should not be banned completely. Let the students indulge in their harmless fun. What is wrong with that?

 Mr B :- Ragging is not harmless fun anymore. Let’s not deluge ourselves with this kind of logic. It is the most harmful, the most devious form of criminality. When we gloss over these things, we are actually encouraging the criminalisation and brutalisation of society. This has to stop. Even a small ragging incident should be made punishable, in order to send a message to students that this is not OK. If you look at the report of the incident at Rajindra Prasad Medical College, you will see that these colleges are torture chambers. There is high degree of sadism involved. Yet, neither the colleges nor the government has done anything. The Supreme Court must take it upon itself to make ragging a non-bailable offence. We need to go further: students caught doing ragging of juniors should be debarred from further studies and sent to do social service.

 Mr C :- You have a point there. I think that in the long term interests of society, we have to award very strict punishment. Ragging arises because senior students are frustrated and they vent their frustrations on junior students. When they finish their education, they perpetuate the same system that causes frustration among young people. The brutal policeman, the bribe-seeking teacher, the corrupt bureaucrat, the husband who beats his wife, the father who demands sexual favours from his daughter—these are all manifestations of ragging behaviour. This vicious circle has to be broken somewhere and it should be broken at the college level. Let us send out a clear message that bullying the weak is not acceptable in our society.

 Mr D :-  Friends, we are all agreed that ragging is a menace that has to be stopped. Some students felt that not all ragging is bad, but since it has taken a very ugly face, especially in government institutes, it is high time that we did something about it. When I read accounts of ragging on the Internet, I feel sad at the uncontrolled sadism that takes place in hostels. Students have written that they preferred to sleep outside on the drain-pipes rather than go back to their hostels; some students have written that ragging left them hating their studies. There are some instances of people dropping out of college rather than face the humiliation of ragging. We cannot just say that these are just fun things. The Supreme Court has done well in its strict directions about ragging. It should be backed by severe government action as well.


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