Sunday, July 02, 2006

[TOI] Fun...can be dangerous

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The SC of India has in no uncertain terms, banned ragging in institutions. Yet the youth in Gujarat believe it's great fun.

In 2002, Anup Kumar, a first-year engineering student, ran away from the Institute of Engineering and Technology, Lucknow, and committed suicide. He was sexually abused by a group of seniors.

In 2000, Harsh Aggarwal of Motilal Nehru Medical College, Allahabad became a mental wreck after being abused for one month by a group of seniors. He was stripped, beaten and bruised badly. Aggarwal left and did not return.

Very recently, a 17-year-old nursing student of the SME under MG University, Kottayam was raped under the pretence of ragging.

There are many more such stories which dot the newspaper every day during admission season. Yet ragging is still quite popular in colleges and institutes across the state and indeed in large parts of the country.

In defence

"Juniors come with their own ideas so through ragging, seniors make them understand the existing rules and the system,"says Debopriyo Raha, a final year student at Jorhat Engineering College in Assam.

"It's a real fun to know each other through a bit of entertainment,"is how Ravi Vidhani, a student of Gujarat University explains things. Agrees Tarrannum Wisal, a medical student at Aligarh University. "It's a way of developing a rapport through fun."

Is ragging healthy?

"Ragging is healthy if it bridges the communication gap between seniors and juniors,"reasons Rahul Ravimdram, a student at Sapthagiri College of Engineering, Bangalore. Khushboo Modani, a student of Gujarat University says, "In Gujarat, students don't cross the limit so ragging here is fun and healthy."

However, not everyone agrees. Kinjal Bhattacharya, a tech student from Kolkata, says: "It's not at all healthy. Engineering colleges specially have a terrible reputation.

Seniors indulge in major ragging."Adds Vandana Molhotra, a junior at Amity University in Noida: "Any sort of unwanted ragging is in bad taste. No one has the right to harass juniors."


Some students argue that ragging is a healthy form of entertainment but examples of such ‘fun' gone awry are far too many.

"Physical ragging can lead to trauma and every year cases of ragging related suicide are reported,"says Jatin Shetty, a student of St. Joseph College in Bangalore.

"Ragging is a complex psychological phenomenon in which the victim himself becomes the perpetrator and later inflicts the same pain to others who come after him,"says Harsh Agarwal, a victim of severe physical ragging at Motilal Nehru Medical College, Allahabad.

Unaware of a ban

The Apex court has banned ragging but it seems many here are unaware of that. "It should not be banned as long as it's healthy fun,"says a blissfully unaware Navneet Kaur of Gujarat University. "There should be some regulations set by students themselves but not from the authorities,"says Prity Mallik, a law student.

But those who have seen ragging from close quarters feel this convention should be abolished for good. "It should be banned because one never knows how a victim is being psychologically affected. Ragging can leave a lifelong scar,"says Bhattacharya.

Faculty members too support the Apex court verdict. Director of IIT Guwahati, Prof. Gautam Barua says, "There is nothing wrong in light ragging but these little pranks can be dangerous sometimes. So it is always better to ban ragging completely."

Is this tradition?

Surprisingly many students in Gujarat support ragging in the name of tradition. "There is no harm in continuing this tradition if it is mild and doesn't bother anybody much,"says Prity Mali, a student of Gujarat University.

Others say this is rubbish. "It is unfortunate that ragging has got rooted in the Indian education system. Of late it has decreased in most Metros and in the top institutes, but in some states like Gujarat, things don't seem to have progressed,"says Harsh Agarwal.

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