Ragging suddenly became a fashionable campus activity and students began to play practical jokes on newcomers/juniors or freshers. The dictionary defines ragging as 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.

Ragging today has been strongly deep rooted in Indian educational setup. The origin of this ragging can be traced from the European universities where seniors played practical jokes while welcoming the newly admitted students to the institution. Gradually the practice spread throughout the world. However with time, it assumed obnoxious and harmful connotations. As a result, the root meaning of the word got modified and thus it began to be severely condemned by all. Today, almost all universities have taken stern action to eradicate this menace though it continues to show its ugly face and harmful effects.

Sadly, India has inherited this practice as a legacy from the British.  The Indian has still not been able to free himself from the clutches of this inhuman practice. A research finding shows that the worst form of ragging is practiced in India.

Ragging practices take various forms — dress code ragging, formal introduction, verbal torture, sexual abuse, playing the fool (enact scenes from the movies or do silly things), drug abuse and much more.

The consequences of ragging are shocking but true. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. This truly stands apt in case of ragging. What begins with a friendly introduction in the name of ragging assumes disgusting and perverted overtones within no time.

The students are very excited about the new life as they enter the college/university. They have many hopes and expectations which get disturbed after the first experience of ragging. It causes grave psychological stress and trauma to the victim (student). It thereby results in student dropout and as a result hampers their academic career. In extreme cases it even results in cases of suicide and culpable homicide.

Nagendra A V, a student aged 25 years was found dead in Chandigarh’s prestigious institution of medical education and research on 19th April 2010. He joined the post graduate institution 2 months ago. Police reported that he jumped down from the hostel building whereas his father believed that he had been pushed down by someone from the building. A day ago he had mentioned to his father that he found it difficult to continue there due to ragging.

Sinmoy Debroy aged 21 was found hanging from the ceiling fan, dead in his hostel room in Chennai on 4th April 2010. It was a private hostel shared by students of various colleges. Incidents like these and many more have become a regular feature of most of the educational institutions today. Though ragging has ruined the lives of many, resistance against it has only grown up in recent years. Several Indian states have introduced legislation to ban ragging. The Supreme Court of India has taken a strong stand to curb ragging and it has been declared a criminal offence. India’s first and only registered Anti-ragging NGO, Society Against Violence in Education (SAVE) has supported that ragging is also widely and dangerously prevalent in engineering and other institutions, mainly in the hostels.

The Ministry of Human Resource Development following a directive by the Supreme Court appointed a 7 member panel headed by Ex- CBI Director Dr. R.K.Raghavan to recommend anti-ragging measures. The Raghavan committee report submitted to the court in May 2007 includes a proposal to include ragging as a special section under Indian Penal Code. An interim order by the Supreme Court of India makes it obligatory for academic institutions to file official FIR (First Information Report) with the police in any instance of a complaint of ragging. This was to ensure that all cases would be formally investigated under criminal justice system and not by academic institution controlled bodies. 

In 2006, the court directed the HRD ministry to form a panel to suggest guidelines to control ragging. The panel headed by Dr. Raghavan (Ex –Director, CBI) met the victims, guardians and others across the country. It placed its recommendations to the Supreme Court which has given its order on the issue.

In 2007, the Supreme Court directed that all the higher educational institutions should include information about all the ragging incidents in their brochures/ prospectus of admission. In 2009, the UGC (University Grants Commission) passed a regulation to curb the menace in higher educational institutions. They laid certain guidelines to be followed by the institutions before and during the admission, registration and also after admission. The FIR should be filed within 24 hours of receipt of such information or complaint with the police and local authorities.

The anti-ragging movement: With the situation getting worse every year, an anti-ragging movement has begun in India. Several voluntary organizations emerged who conduct drives for public awareness and arrange for the victim’s support. To name a few, CURE (Coalition to Uproot Ragging from India) and SAVE (Society Against Violence in Education). Ragging is a problem of the students and by the students and therefore the solution to this problem should begin with the initiative from the students. The student community needs to be awakened and made aware of the problems in the institutions and they should also be trained to fight the menace before it harms more victims and degrades the educational institutions, and last of all discourages students from enrolling for higher studies.

Remember, a stitch in time saves nine! 

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