Orientation of seniors and juniors alone will change the students’ mindset, writes

R. Rajaram

The arrest of three senior students of Government Physiotherapy College in the city this week on ragging charge has brought back the spotlight on the recurring problem in educational institutions.

The senior students’ act of ragging three junior students in the college hostel was found to be true by an enquiry committee, comprising the College Principal (in-charge), Vice Principal and a senior-most faculty.

Panel set up

The panel was constituted by the Dean of K.A.P. Viswanatham Government Medical College, Tiruchi upon receipt of a written complaint from a parent of one of the affected students.

The senior students were placed under suspension by the Dean, who preferred a complaint with the Cantonment Police, leading to their arrest subsequently. The matter had also been reported to top officials of the Health Department in Chennai.

Unfortunately, the ragging incident had taken place at a time when Anti Ragging Committees had been constituted in higher educational institutions to prevent such offences and despite the awareness programmes being held across institutions.

What is it?

The Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Ragging Act, 1997 defines ragging as any act which is likely to cause physical or psychological harm or raise apprehension or fear or shame or embarrassment to a student in any educational institution.

It includes teasing, abusing, playing jokes on or causing hurt to a student or asking the student to do any act or perform something which the student, in ordinary course, would not be willing to do.

“Whoever directly or indirectly commits, participates, abets or propagates ragging within any educational institution or outside shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years and shall also be liable to a fine of up to Rs.10,000.”

While Anti Ragging Committees, which include the jurisdictional police officer in the rank of a Deputy Superintendent of Police/Assistant Commissioner and the Revenue Divisional Officer/Tahsildhar, had been constituted in several educational institutions also comprising, continuing incidents remain a definite cause for worry.

At a meeting held with the principals of various engineering colleges on Friday, authorities of the Anna University-Tiruchi impressed on the heads of institutions on the need for initiating steps to check ragging in their campuses.

Anti-ragging programmes

For its part, the District Legal Services Authority (DLSA) had been carrying out ‘anti-ragging’ awareness programmes in colleges/university to sensitise students to the issue and caution them that they would have to pay a heavy price if caught in the act.

The DLSA had so far conducted such programmes in six institutions including the Bharathidasan University and Government Law College in the city.

Academicians said that only a few students indulged in ragging and the majority were quite aware of the consequences.

A change in mindset among students could be attained if both the seniors and juniors were provided a proper orientation, opined an academician.

Anti-Ragging Days should be observed in every institution through which the message could be driven home to the students, said a senior professor of a medical college.