Every year around the month of January-February, many people of this country have to spend their days in an unknown anxiety. Because it is at this time that the first year classes of most public and private universities start every year. But what emerges as the biggest fear for freshers is not the curriculum, teachers or extracurricular but ragging. Every year we get at least one or two such news items where it is seen that the first year students have been subjected to a lot of harassment in the name of ragging by the seniors of the university.
As a result, some become mentally ill; some even start thinking of committing suicide out of humiliation. And the biggest thing is that the colourful dreams that have been cut in the mind about studying in the university for a long time, they fly away in one breath.
Generally guest room culture and big ragging incidents start in late night or midnight and goes until dawn. When the surroundings are quiet, then this 'Maha Karma' begins. No one around can know what happens to the victims’ heart or skin. Even if someone notices it, they don't have the courage to make a noise. The university authorities assign the responsibility of the teachers to manage the halls.
The team consists of House Tutors and Wardens headed by the Principal. But in the universities that have political practices, their activities are not noted in reality. The management of the hall is not done by the board of directors, but by the rulers. These teachers are aware of the guestroom culture but remain silent; because, at present, such posts are also given to teachers from the party circle. Many of whom are noticed to legitimize the misdeeds. Common students sometimes complain against the authorities, but they are seen to make light of the matter.
As part of routine duties, teachers visit the fresher in the common room of the hall. But the new students don't dare to tell what kind of behaviour has been meted out to them a little while ago. Before the teachers came, these students were warned by the authorities not to make any complaint. After this, who dares to complain against the big 'brothers'?
Every university administration has a zero tolerance policy against ragging. Teachers' associations also speak against this but of no use.
Ragging in our universities is slowly taking an alarming turn. A recent incident at Jessore University of Science and Technology (JUST) will testify to this. Unable to bear the stress of harassment by some senior students in the women's dormitory of the university, four students of the department of accountancy fell ill.
When new batch students come to a university, senior students start making fun of them in the name of ragging. Instead of welcoming new students, some senior students start teaching them the so-called university etiquette.
Sometimes, they make juniors sing and dance in public. It is quite humiliating and annoying for new students. According to senior students, these are quite normal. They don't want to treat these acts as crimes. It is very easy for them. And, they feel that junior students should put up with such unhealthy practices and harassment of their seniors. In fact, they are reluctant to admit their guilt.
University authorities say they are against ragging only in lectures. But they do not monitor the ragging situation in the university but only say that they would see the matter if they get complaint. My question is why they don't want to make the campus safe? Freshers are always afraid. Why?
In the residential halls, the juniors are kept aside to greet the seniors. To tell the truth, seniors try all kinds of ways to force respect from juniors. The greeting of the juniors is a fearful greeting. In the first case the juniors do not know all the seniors. Juniors are mentally tortured for not giving salaam by mistake.
Senior students come to the classes of the respective departments and torture juniors mentally and physically for hours. Each one was tortured for ten to twenty minutes in the name of teaching manners to the junior. They prove that they themselves have not learned anything about manners and etiquette; they have learned to be uncivilized and inhuman forgetting why they have come to institutes of higher learning.
The chairman of that department and other teachers live nearby. Fresh students are oppressed like this, about which they are fully aware. But juniors are not allowed to come even after the specified time. Even if a student's parent comes and waits in the campus, the student is not allowed to meet them.
Every year we hear about temporary expulsion of students in some universities due to ragging. In addition to the university authorities, concerted initiatives by the University Grants Commission and the Ministry of Education are necessary to remove this rot. If any student commits such a crime, he should be brought to book immediately. Mere expulsion from the hall will never stop ragging.
The situation will never change if there is no strict punishment subject to investigation and evidence. Psychological counselling is also important in this case. Some universities have anti-sexual harassment cells. Similarly, anti-ragging cells can be formed in each university in a separate structure. However, to remove this bad culture, the student organizations must be controlled. Failing to do that, whatever efforts are taken to stop ragging is bound to fail.
As several students there have died due to ragging in the recent past, the University Grants Commission of India in 2009 directed every university to take necessary measures to stop ragging. Besides, they have also launched a toll free helpline, where students who have been victims of ragging can call and report their complaints, so that the authorities concerned can take appropriate action against the offenders.
After admission in a university, it is necessary to follow a systematic life without getting swept away by emotions. It is also very important to be respectful to all teachers. But ragging, physically and mentally harassing a student in the name of teaching them etiquette is in no way acceptable. The senior-junior relationship in the university should be one of mutual respect, love and affection. But no one has the right to force respect from someone by intimidating him or laying hands on him. So, the need of the hour is to stop the ragging culture; otherwise, we will never know how many students tormented in the name of ragging will drop out universities.
(The writer is a Research Assistant, Bioinformatics Research Lab, Center for Research Innovation and Development)
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Source: Sun Editorial