Ramya Kannan

CHENNAI: Among the people for whom Friday’s Supreme Court judgment on ragging made tremendous sense is R.K. Raghavan, a man who, nearly two years ago, recommended that urgent action was required to solve problem of ragging in the country.

Welcoming the Supreme Court judgment, Mr. Raghavan, former CBI director, who is the chairman, Monitoring Committee for the Prevention of Ragging, said, “there are finally signs that the recommendations to prevent ragging in colleges will be taken seriously.”

“Regulatory bodies thought it was not their job so far. The impact, however, will be felt only during the next academic year, which will begin in next couple of months. What kind of discipline they will be able to enforce remains to be seen,” he explained.

“All of us know that ragging, in some form, has been in existence for decades. If it did not attract attention until a few years ago, it was because people thought it was fun. But now public opinion and the verdicts of the court indicate that it has gone beyond control. It is no longer fun; it results in tremendous mental trauma and death,” Mr. Raghavan told The Hindu.

The Raghavan Committee report submitted in 2007 made a case for preventing ragging which was being perceived as a “social menace.” It recommended certain measures, including stricter punishment for the offenders, and a written undertaking from students entering the hostel, countersigned by their parents that they would not indulge in ragging.

Mr. Raghavan also assigned a two-member team to go into the circumstances of Amann Kachroo’s death in Dr. Rajendra Prasad Government Medical College, Himachal Pradesh. The team established that ragging had led to death and students and the security man had been under the influence of alcohol during the ragging incident.

Lack of will

“There is lack of will on the part of educational institutions, State governments and the regulatory bodies to take ragging seriously,” Mr. Raghavan said. “If such an incident (Kachroo’s death) happens it is not because there is a lack of laws or guidance to check such practices. There are many laws and recommendations.” He says expressed the view that the problem was that penalties available within the law did not provide sufficient deterrence against committing such an act.

“Ultimately, private medical and engineering colleges are run by bigwigs with political links. They cannot care any less. Managements, who are in their employ, want to suppress such incidents, rather than prevent further occurrences. That is why these incidents do not create a stir,” he added.

Some government-run medical colleges and engineering colleges were also very bad in terms of enforcing the anti-ragging rules, he said. “The principal is powerless in such cases. Students found to be involved in ragging are not expelled fearing revolt from other students.”

He also suggested that making colleges “alcohol-free” zones would go a long way in curbing ragging. This would succeed, however, only if the principals and wardens were vigilant and strict and they had the support of good watch and ward staff.

Among the Raghavan Committee’s recommendations is a clause to introduce a chapter on ragging right at the school level, in order to teach children what an “inhuman and barbaric” practice it had evolved into.