Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Lately, a lot of articles, a few even in leading dailies, have been published depicting ragging in a very negative light, and somehow I personally cannot relate to it. While I do agree that in many Indian colleges, ragging has taken an extreme monstrous shape, which instills fear of the unknown senior, I do believe that it has its own benefits.
First of all, at the outset, let me state that I do not wish to condone anybody who behaves with juniors in a manner unbecoming a gentleman or a lady. I have personally seen students who had been so frightfully affected by the treatment meted out to them as soon as they joined a prestigious institute that they retracted into a shell, their hopes and dreams shattered, and many of them left the college they had so expectantly gone to. Besides, many times, ragging takes a nasty turn when people try to get sadistic pleasure by physically harming others; accidents are not unheard of and such malevolent behavior is something that should not be pardoned.
However, coming back, all interaction is not unhealthy. These interaction sessions or orientation programs are a great learning experience, and really help break the ice with people you are going to spend the next few years with. It is not for no reason that people make lifelong friendships in residential hostels, which are notorious for ragging. In my own college, as soon as we reached the senior hostels, we were made to learn the basic introductions (name, native place and stream) of all our batchmates. While many spurned the idea, it later dawned that if you know somebody’s name, it is always so easy to start a conversation. It really helped us have a close knit community over our stay for the next few years.
Apart from that, our seniors organized various cultural and sports events in order to find new talent to participate in inter-hostel competitions. Before joining our colleges, we have hidden desires and latent talents, but the rigmarole of competitive examinations leaves little time to explore these other facets. This is an excellent time for exploring the unknown within us, since there are no expectations and no big-achievers to discourage us. This was the humble initiation of many among us who were later to become stars in the same competitions.
I have seen many of my friends transformed – a hesitant immature adolescent to a confident adult, who knows that he can carry himself in many situations in life and who has a lot less apprehensions than he had earlier. The period can really be used to break free from the protective shell that most of us are enveloped in while we live at homes under the protection of our parents. From holding back to letting go may seem a small change, but is exactly what a caterpillar goes through as it becomes a fluttering butterfly.
At the same time, as seniors, the same students later learn essentials like how to manage subordinates, how to earn respect, how to be sensitive to the needs of others, how to manage mass events and how to gauge people and how to deal with people of all kinds.
Interaction provides a lot of valuable and practical guidance on anything under the sun – from how to choose courses, to what is important for our future and how to land a coveted job, from how to fight stage fright to how to impress that girl. Valuable experience and invaluable friends – essential for the leap we take after we graduate.
It remains important that the authorities at these institutions channelize the interaction to make it both fun and educative. They should strictly enforce rules, but organize various events. Parents of kids who are going to join a college should also encourage them to participate in various events interact healthily with the others. A lot of energy is dissipated in unhealthy ragging, which can be made very fruitful if the interaction is done the right way. Colleges are, after all, a microcosm of life, and the interaction period is one of the best times to learn life skills.