Parul Sharma

`Incidents swept under carpet to avoid embarrassment'

NEW DELHI: Many colleges across the country attempt to sweep incidents of ragging under the carpet to save themselves from embarrassment and prevent the institution's reputation from getting tarnished.

It is a myth that colleges are serious about preventing ragging and the fact is that their efforts fall "way short" of basic expectations in dealing with such incidents, says a report, "Ragging in India", compiled by voluntary organisation "Coalition to Uproot Ragging from Education" (CURE).

"In many violent cases, colleges have actually denied the incident, or worse, indicated that the fresher had initiated the altercation. The college authority prefers to deny ragging incident for face-saving at the cost of the freshers' trauma. Many colleges now try their best to keep the incident under wraps to save themselves from embarrassment," says the report.

The report is based on CURE's six years of experience in handling countrywide cases of ragging, though they began documenting their work last November.

The document also points out that ragging is not "harmless fun" as perceived by people and is more widespread in colleges where students stay in hostels, more so in professional institutions like engineering and medical colleges.

"In hostels a fresher is totally at the mercy of seniors with no support from family and friends. The problem magnifies at engineering and medical colleges, where students believe that they are the cream of society and it is their right to do socially unacceptable practices in the name of ragging," the report claims.

One of the chapters of the report titled "Social Perceptions: Debunking Prevalent Myths" asserts that it is a deception that severe ragging is not prevalent any more.

"Severe ragging is widely prevalent in most of the colleges which have hostels, be it smaller cities or the metropolitan ones... Nothing speaks louder than 25 cases of suicide due to ragging in the last seven years. After the Supreme Court judgment, colleges have just geared up to keep ragging incidents under the cover. The problem is not solved yet, it is just hidden," it says.

Reacting to the report, Delhi University's Sri Venkateswara College Principal A. Shankra Reddy said seniors of an institution must be involved in curbing ragging and other teasing incidents on the campus.

He admitted that though the University was taking "stringent" measures to prevent ragging, it continued in colleges that have hostel accommodation.

"The principals and the administration have been taking steps for the past two years in this direction. The security personnel have been increased, there is more police assistance and more and more student volunteers have been organised to contain ragging," said Dr. Reddy.

He maintained that in his College ragging was "absolutely zero" because each department separately held a meeting of seniors and juniors to encourage a healthy interaction between them.

"It is a myth that ragging helps in breaking the ice between seniors and freshers. Ragging is an archaic method of interaction with several harmful effects... It does not generate a feeling of unity and oneness as thought by many. It divides the students on the lines of caste, region and class. It sets up a mob mentality among the students," it says.