The Supreme Court’s directive to initiate a series of measures to prevent ragging has been welcomed by all. However, experts are sceptical about its practicality, reports Neeraja Murthy
When Sarada Rao, a housewife switched on the television on Friday to watch the evening news, the ragging monster was all set to be whipped. Her anxiety levels crashed and her spirit soared as she shared the news with her banker husband. “My son is a wannabe engineer and we were really worried as to how he will be treated by his seniors. Thanks to the Supreme Court, now it is not just colleges, even the state governments have to be accountable,” she says with happiness looming large on the face. The apex court’s landmark order has hit the nail. In its order, the court has directed all the state governments to set up committees to look into ragging incidents and prevent them. It has also directed a series of measures like appointing psychiatrists in the colleges for counselling of the students, who resort to ragging and in the case of alcoholism, colleges will have to take measures for de-addiction.
The friendly introduction, a customary salute and other ‘simple’ singing, dancing, jumping acts were once considered acts of ragging. Now, it has metamorphosed into a social evil giving sleepless nights to scores of teenagers and the heat is also felt by their parents. In some cases like that of Amann Kachroo, a first year M.B.B.S student even lives are lost.
Rabbi Puthiran was in his office when the news broke and the principal of St. Mary’s College in Yousufguda gives a thumbs-up to the decision. “It is a great news for young boys and girls, who feel traumatised while joining a college especially the engineering and medical colleges. However, the college managements should handle the matter sensitively. If a student is counselled by a psychiatrist, there is scope for backlash as others might make fun of him/her as being mentally unstable,” he says. The guidelines find vocal supporters in Diksha Marur and her junior Priyanka Sridhar, undergraduate students. “The counselling classes can be held once in a month and they are sure to bring in a change. As far as the measures for de-addiction is concerned, the college authorities have every right to be strict. But if the teachers push the students too much, especially the rebellious ones, the situation might become from bad to worse,” she says.
The order however has opened a fresh round of debate among the talking heads, especially those from the medical fraternity. “The decision is very impractical,” says G. Prasad Rao, a noted psychiatrist from the city. “In India, there are around 3000 psychiatrists and when it comes to Andhra Pradesh, the number is just in hundreds. We do not have so many qualified doctors to be attached to the colleges. The managements can bring in awareness by holding seminars, workshops and keeping a regular check on hostels. Drop in boxes can become compulsory where in freshers can drop in the name of seniors who rag and their names can be kept confidential,” he says. Sharing his views is Venkamma of R.B.V.R.R Women’s College in Narayanaguda,
“Having psychiatrists in college will prove to be an expensive affair and it is a utopian way of thinking. When government teachers are only not regularly paid, who will pay the psychiatrists?” she asks.
Echoing her concern is Hiral Goradia, a psychologist with KIMS hospital. “Psychiatrists can prescribe medication but cannot devote so much time with students,” says Hiral and adds, “Psychologists are better equipped for counselling sessions and can hold workshops regularly on not just ragging but also include issues like drug abuse and teenage pregnancies.”