HindustanTimes.com’s new initiative — Vox populi — has kicked off with a bang. The response to our first questionnaire has been enthusiastic and we have received several important insights.
As many as 352 people from India and abroad participated in the online survey. And they were unequivocal, with a great deal to say.
Most of them said ragging is a menace and should be banned. However, there were a few who supported the activity, albeit on a low key.
As many as 255 people were of the opinion that ragging should be banned throughout India. On the other hand, 55 people said ragging was just college prank and need not be forbidden. The remaining 10 were uncertain as they were not able to decide whether it is a menace or a healthy way to begin interaction.
A total of 203 surfers said those who rag should be expelled from college. 69 people, meanwhile, chose the option of expelling the raggers from classes. As many as 57 people felt that a fine should be imposed on the offenders.
Interestingly, a whopping 226 surfers termed ragging a criminal offence. 70 people chose to term it a college caper while 45 others said the penalty need not be very harsh for it.
To our last question about how students should handle ragging, 115 people said students should learn to manage stress, while 186 respondents said they should approach the law. 37 people felt that consulting one’s parents would be a better idea.
Now for the best part: The written responses to the issue.
We were pleasantly surprised to note several respondents confiding in us and describing the way in which they were ragged. A lot many of them said they had to stop studying and seek full-time counselling. All because they were insulted and belittled during ragging.
Here is what Surendra Pal Singh, a surfer from Newmarket had to say:
“I experienced ragging in 1964. After that I was affected so much by it that I could not study anymore. So I began to take revenge. I became a low grader from a high grader. And I joined a gang of fellow students who had the same experience and we became gundas…”
Rajiv from Delhi narrated a similar experience:
“I was viciously bullied & ragged in a reputed school in South Delhi and was unable to get a good score in my exams. So I lost my concentration and wasted away…”
Then there was a participant, Mehak, who had this horrific detail to recount:
“It is common for freshers in my college to be denuded and paraded in the college hostels and even in the city around the campus. They are made to use profane language while being beaten around with slippers, and slapped by the seniors…”
Dr Kushal Banerjee from Kolkata , who heads the India chapter of the Coalition to Uproot Ragging from Education (CURE), sent us a very valuable comment. This is what he had to say:
“I would like to offer my sincere thanks to you for raising this issue. Ragging took a toll on 13 lives in the last 5 years. Many others were disabled, and some were even raped.
In most incidences, raggers strip the victims naked and often in front of the opposite sex. Sometimes, seniors even force male juniors to strip naked and masturbate while they take photographs. All this may be fun for perverts who get nothing but sexual pleasure. But it is the worst nightmare for innocent juniors. If ragging is to be allowed, then rape and gang-rape must also be legalised.”
Phani from Seattle underlined the effect that ragging has on a student. He said:
“Ragging has severely affected my personality. My life will never be the same again. I strongly believe that it should be banned.”
Then there was a highly illuminating response from Deepak, a surfer from Ludhiana:
“As part of ragging, I have seen students being injured and sometimes even killed. Their bodies are then disposed off without a trace. Those who resist are in danger of getting severe bodily injuries, and females are sexually molested if they dare to speak up. These things do not come out into the open and are kept under wraps. Most of those who rag violently are highly connected and nobody has the courage to speak against them. So everyone keeps quiet...”
To say we were horrified is an understatement. But then, we had worse things to encounter.
Our international participants said ragging was a phenomenon seen only in India.
This is what Krish from San Fransisco said:
“I have had the privilege to go to universities in both India and the USA. But I have witnessed nothing like ragging in the western world. “
Our sense of culpability was heightened when people said how ragging was strictly forbidden in their country and the how harsh the penalties were, for an offender.
For instance, Ram from Toronto said: “In Canada you dare not tease a person. You cannot indulge in hooliganism; immediately you are charged for public nuisance. So students in colleges are well-behaved. And ragging and eve teasing are considered criminal offences.”
From here, we passed on to a few responses that supported ragging, but on a modest scale. Dr Suri from Detroit, perhaps, summed it up best when he said:
“Ragging is a healthy custom to get to know newcomers and at the same time make them feel at home. But ragging has its own limitations and should be strictly observed. The present day ragging is making new entrants very scary. Some even go to the extent of committing suicide. I sincerely feel that getting to each other should be with love and respect. In fact, self restraint is the key for all types of fun.”
Shivani from Australia echoed this sentiment. “Ragging, if done in a decent way, will help us to make good friends and also strengthen us to face future difficulties. It will also help students to handle stressful interviews in future.”
These people seemed to feel that ragging, if confined to healthy limits, could cultivate a healthy respect between the seniors and the juniors of a college.
In all, it was an emotional roller coaster, unravelling the many responses to the issue of ragging. Delighted at the number of responses, yet saddened by the sad state of affairs.
We thank you all for participating in our survey and hope your enthusiasm continues. Vox populi will be back with another burning issue, and we look forward to your responses. Till then, happy surfing!
Monday, June 26, 2006
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