Ragging is to be made a cognisable offence in Uttar Pradesh, where several cases have been reported recently from colleges and private engineering institutes. In a few cases, students of private institutes have committed suicide on account on ragging by seniors.

Official sources said an ordinance making ragging a cognisable offence would be issued soon. The decision was approved at a Cabinet meeting presided over by Chief Minister Mayawati here on Tuesday, sources said. It has been named “Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Ragging in Educational Institutions Ordinance, 2009.”

Official sources said orders to curb ragging had been issued by the Supreme Court, and in its light, government orders of the Higher Education and Technical Education departments were issued. The need to enforce a strong legislation was felt ever since incidents of ragging were reported, an official said.

The Cabinet gave its approval to the ordinance since the U.P. Legislature is not in session.

Austerity drive

In a measure aimed at cutting wasteful and unproductive expenditure, Ms. Mayawati enforced a strict austerity drive and directed her Cabinet colleagues to ensure its implementation in letter and spirit.

The austerity measures had been announced to tide over the additional financial burden of about Rs.4,000 crore on the State exchequer on account of the welfare measures for Dalits and downtrodden sections of the population and the implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations.

Consequently, State banquets would henceforth not be hosted in five star hotels and no new guest houses would be opened by government departments, State undertakings and development authorities.

The number of official cars would be cut down by five per cent and additional vehicles would not be procured. Officials would not be nominated for training courses and seminars unless required.

Officials had also been asked not to take their personal staff on official tours. Government spending on the printing of diaries and calendars for New Year has been banned.

An official spokesman said wasteful expenditure by the previous governments had ruined the economic health of the State, adding that despite limited resources, the present regime had launched several welfare schemes for downtrodden sections.