New Delhi, Dec. 24: Watch it, all you students who rag your juniors. Next time you are caught in the act, you might be sent to a counsellor for therapy.
For, ragging might soon come to be redefined as harassment and not a “prank” played by a bully, if the human resource development ministry has its way.
The committee set up by the ministry to stop ragging on campus has a tough agenda on hand: how to stop a practice that is not only becoming more and more vicious but also more widespread.
To get to the bottom of the matter, the committee has decided to do more than skim the surface of the problem: study the psychological and social profile of the student who bullies and humiliates his juniors.
The inputs will help formulate recommendations that may be framed into a law or a set of guidelines mandatory for each institution.
Work is already under way. Psychologists, sociologists and legal experts are going to make presentations before the committee at a meeting on January 2.
“We want to understand what are the factors motivating this nasty ragging,” said Rajendra Prasad, principal of Ramjas College. He conceded such incidents were on the rise and there were hardly any deterrents.
“The students who do this most are bright students in professional institutions who score over 90 per cent marks in their exams. We want to understand their social background,” Prasad said.
One school of thought has questioned why ragging should not be described as a form of sexual harassment as, very often, the bullying gets to be sexually offensive. “Why should the punishment not be as severe?” a committee member asked.
At present, there are no legal deterrents against ragging. The decision on how to deal with an offender is left to individual institutions. An offender could be debarred from attending college for a while, let off with a warning or even expelled.
The committee on ragging could change all this. It may come up with a blueprint for action that may act as a deterrent to ragging. There will be stringent punishment in case the committee decides to redefine ragging as a serious offence.
Jitendra Nagpal, a psychologist in Vimhans who is expected to make a presentation at the January meeting, said: “These students test the limits that are not demarcated by law.”
In the last two years, Nagpal has counselled students who have been traumatised by ragging.
Prasad said ragging very often left students with an impaired personality. Several students chose to suffer in silence, did not report the case and lived with the humiliation, he said.
The committee is also seeking the opinion of student leaders. “When we say student leaders, we mean mature students who have held some kind of responsible office,” Prasad said.
Ragini Nayyar, former Delhi University Students’ Union president, is expected to interact with the committee.