Ragging is an imported “culture”, which should be curbed forthwith. There can’t be a second opinion on this in view of the victims of this ugly practice growing in number day by day, the death of a first-year medical college student in Himachal Pradesh as a result of the horribly disgusting ragging done by a senior being one of the recent incidents. The pity was that in spite of the complaint made by the victim to the principal of the institution, no action was taken and this encouraged the erring student to beat him to death.

Yet another incident was the suicide committed by a college student, a girl, who couldn’t withstand the shame after she danced in the nude as forced by senior girls. It’s a horror that even some girls behaved in this fashion following the footsteps of boys. Girls or boys, there should be no discrimination in punishing such culprits. Yet girls who’ve so far been better behaved and proving to be more hardworking and talented than boys by their performance in examinations should not stoop to their level in the name of equality or whatever.

Cause for concern

Three decades ago, a woman writer wrote an article in an investigative journal expressing concern over the practice of ragging and warned that if stringent measures were not taken by the authorities then and there, the situation was bound to get out of control causing uncontrollable disaster for which she was ridiculed by a reader that she was making a mountain of a molehill needlessly.

Maybe, ragging was started in educational institutions with the good intention of making the juniors shed their shyness and feel comfortable in the company of their seniors. While the idea is laudable, the modus operandi practised by seniors for the purpose has reached a stage deserving critical condemnation and punishment.

One would recall how Neelam Sanjeeva Reddi, a former President of India, broke down at a public meeting referring to the news of a student in Pune having committed suicide after a nasty ragging incident. He lamented that the students of a nation whose father was Mahatma Gandhi could stoop to such an inglorious level.

Harmless interaction

Let me refer to the ragging suggested and allowed by a Principal of a famous educational institution of India, BITS, Pilani, when my nephew studied there. He warned students of dire consequences in the event of crude and cruel behaviour in the name of ragging. Ragging was there, but it was done in a commendable, not condemnable manner.

The freshers were invited by seniors to clean their rooms and, in turn, they cleaned the freshers’ rooms. Those who knew how to sing could sing and those who knew dancing could dance. No compulsion whatsoever. They should introduce themselves to one another. Then the seniors offered them coffee and biscuits and the following day, the newcomers should reciprocate the gesture. One does not know whether the same method continues there now.

Every year there’s only talk about curbing the evil practice and punishing the offenders but nothing seems to be done to prevent it in the days to come. The government and the educational authorities should have the will to do that.

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