Wednesday, February 14, 2007

[DNA] Centre takes students’ view to combat ragging

Bullies beware. The Centre has taken serious note of ragging incidents across country.

Following the November 2006 Supreme Court directive, the Union HRD ministry has formed a six-member committee to create a report based on suggestions gathered from students and faculty across the country on how to combat incidents of ragging.

Headed by RK Raghavan, former CBI director, the committee visited the SNDT University on Tuesday on a fact-finding mission. The committee feels the need to introduce a national legislation to curb the menace.

“Instead of different laws for different states, the country should have a common anti-ragging law as ragging is an issue of national importance,” Raghavan said. The committee has already visited states such as Assam, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal. It will be visiting institutions in New Delhi, Jaipur, Cochin and Chennai in the near future. The committee report will be submitted to the apex court in April.

The committee gathered suggestions from students and principals of various colleges and professional institutions across the state, including IIT-Bombay, HR College, University of Pune and Nanded. Suggestions ranged from building independent hostels for freshmen, giving hostel wardens the authority to punish guilty students and allowing colleges to organise interactions between freshmen and seniors. “During the start of the academic year, seniors should prepare a newsletter for freshmen, informing them about the college’s rules and regulations,” said Madhav Welling, NM College principal. “This process paves way for formal introduction between freshmen and seniors, thereby discouraging ragging.”

While some students seemed apprehensive about expressing their opinions before the committee, others came forward, saying that students should be educated on the existing anti-ragging law by including it in the curriculum and the institution should set up an anti-ragging squad at each institution and penalise students breaking the law.

“Ragging is an harmful activity and should be discouraged,” said Raj Kusbe, a student of HR College. “Students involved in ragging are usually repeat offenders. The anti-ragging squad should act as a vigilant body, discouraging them.”

However, Raghavan added ragging had social fall-out. “It’s only students from influential families who are involved in ragging,” he said. “They try to lord it over those who come from lower-income groups. Also most hostels nowadays are outside the campus, and there is very little supervision. As a result, authorities fail to curb ragging.”

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