Saturday, July 22, 2006

[ToI] Rag-a-fuchcha? Think twice

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Ragging seems to have evolved over the years, taking many shapes and forms. We explore..

1980s: Tolerable

Ragging got a bit more intense as compared to what it was in earlier times. In DU colleges it was picking up. Amit Sachthey, a B Com(Hons) student of the 1984 batch at DU, shares, "During our time, ragging was bad in the hostel but friendly in college. We were asked to recite the alphabet backwards in the middle of the college courtyard with our shirts off or measure the corridor with five-paisa coins. In the hostel, the scene was much worse. Here, often the students were made to undergo physical torture in the name of ragging and forced to do stuff like the seniors' homework."

On her part, Jayshree Chowdhury, a teacher of English at the College of Vocational Studies, puts, "In the eighties, there was plenty of ragging but things never reached the level of becoming dirty. Today, the tradition of ragging has almost come to an end mainly because of the authorities who were forced to levy strict rules to reduce it."

About the much dreaded scene of ragging at professional colleges, Vishnu Dusad, MD of a software company, who graduated in 1980 from IIT Delhi, has just one line to say, "The IIT experience is not worth it if you don't attend the ragging sessions there."

1990s: Horrible

Ragging took a turn for the worse. Result? A number of suicides in medical and engineering colleges. A doctor, who is an AIIMS pass-out of the 1996 batch, on condition of anonymity, informs, "The ragging was horrible. It was a month-long torture which we could not refuse. And those who did had to bear the consequences, physically. Being a hosteler, I got to witness it from much close, and all I can say is that the best form of ragging was being asked to clean floors. The rest was terrible."

Dr Vinay Kamal, a professor at MAMC admits, "There were cases where ragging exceeded limits and I had to take action." But in DU, mild ragging was 'in'.

"I was ragged from the moment I boarded the U-special where I was asked to enact a scene from the Mahabharat. It was fun and I ended up becoming friends with my seniors," quips Suhasini Gupta who studied in Hindu College in the early '90s.

Now: Enjoyable?

The new millennium brought with it a strict check. Anti-ragging squads were formed. Tushar Sharma, who joined IIT-D in 2001, avers, "I had great fun on my first day despite the horror tales I had heard. We just had to introduce ourselves, sing and dance." Ragging at medical colleges too seemed to have become softer. Isha Wadhawan, a first year student at AIIMS, says "I had to keep my hair oiled and in plaits and wear plain salwar kameez for a month. But, it was alright. Even staying in the hostel has not been much hassle."

Though ragging still continues in its harsh form at some levels, college authorities like Prof SM Isheiaque, dean of students at IIT-D deny that.

"Our anti-ragging squads consisting of 60 to 70 faculty members ensure that no ragging takes place," he asserts. Nandani Guha, an English (Hons) teacher at DU, says "There has been a remarkable change in DU over the 15 years that I have taught here. Now, nobody wants to take the chance of being caught ragging and getting punished. In the last 5-6 years there has been no severe complaint."

But that doesn't mean ragging is over. Witness the 2006 batch sweeping the floors, singing, dancing and enacting filmi scenes. The difference is now they have the choice to say a clear 'no'.

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