One of the most dangerous developments in the modern day educational institutions has been the tendency of senior students ragging the juniors, especially the first timers to the institutions. Ragging has been denounced in many forms. Many academicians, administrators, and above all the judiciary has been continuously denouncing it and have recently come out with legislations for preventing ragging in schools and colleges.
"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." (Source: Chambers Dictionary - Definition of Ragging)
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Another comprehensive definition of ragging has been given in the Readers Digest where it is mentioned "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." (Source: Reader's Digest - Great Encyclopedia Dictionary)
One of the most comprehensive definitions of ragging has been recently advanced by the Supreme Court of India that says - "Ragging is any disorderly conduct, whether by words spoken or written, orby an act which has the effect of teasing, treating or handling with rudeness any student, indulging in rowdy or undisciplined 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." (Source: Supreme Court of India - 1- Ragging of Freshers in Thiruvananthapuram Government Engineering College vs. State of Kerala, and 2.- Vishwa Jagriti Mission through President vs. Central Government through Cabinet Secretary)
As Mohammed Harris aptly puts it; "there are no strict measures to discourage the ragging. The smart and beautiful young girls are the main target for ragging."
(Source: Mohammed Harris - Ragging at the college campus -2007)
Whatever the reason be; like welcoming the new students or eradicating the feeling of nervousness making them acquainted with the environment of the institution; the action cannot be justified despite divergent arguments advanced by its supporters. Every alternative day some news is published in print and electronic media regarding death or suicide committed by students who were victims of ragging. Besides the mental agony the victim suffers, in many cases there are also physical injuries that could result in grievous injuries to the victim.
In addition the effect is not only on an individual but on the family, the institution itself, educational system, and the entire society.
It is therefore extremely essential for the educational institutions as well as the administrators of education in the country that suitable regulations are put in place to prevent this social crime. Teachers and staff in the colleges and schools are in no position to control this. They are subject to influence by the senior students as well as their high end contacts.
"So the society cannot control ragging easily unless something serious is done against this crime. When ragging is done by powerful teams, even the police people do not dare to take action against them. So, during the college days itself, a responsible student should strictly oppose ragging. Ragging can even take lives, some students commit suicide out of the fear or shame of being ragged. Life is precious and we need to be more responsible towards others". (Source: Mohammed Harris - Ragging at the college campus -2007)
While self control on the part of senior students can play a major part in the resolution of the issue, it is also necessary that there should be strong regulations controlling the same.
In some of the advanced countries like Japan and Canada, ragging has been completely eliminated from schools and colleges. Not so in India, China, and even in United States. In many countries support is provided for the students in the form of help line and it is already in place in most of them. It can speed up apprehending the culprit and rendering justice to the victims and all affected badly by the ragging. In addition, it can bring up transparency in the process of investigation into the cases of ragging.
However the policies to be adopted in educational institutions for prevention of ragging should be such that it can change the mindset of the students. It is often the same student who oppose ragging when they are junior enter into ragging when they become seniors. "This is a psychological problem of just feeling superior. Only consistent counseling constant vigil may prevent ragging." (Source: Dr P Vyasamoorthy - Information consultant and specialist - Ragging of freshmen in academic institutions - 2009)
Another important thing regarding putting in place some policy preventing ragging is that though theoretically it is banished in most places, they exist in some form or other in practice. Even a civilized country like Great Britain has many institutions where ragging is a regular feature. Sometimes the culprits are careful enough not to touch the local or native students but they provide horrible treatment for others and even girls are not spared. (Adam Smith - Ragging in Colleges - A Stark Reality - 2009)
Best policy to be adopted therefore would be clearly making ragging a punishable and cognizable offence. In addition a process can be put in place where the onus of proving that no ragging was committed would lie on the accused and not on the victim. If there is strong political and academic will and the academies can come a bit out of their process of commercialization of education, this could become a reality. It can bring back the calm and graceful environment that should be in an academy that is a temple of learning.
Suggested policy may sound a bit stringent for teenagers especially but if the society desires to eradicate the social evil they have to nip it in the bud without waiting it to grow into a massive tree when it would become very difficult to do away with it.
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