Thursday, August 09, 2007

[ToI] Out with bullies

Even as recent reports of ragging in colleges and universities across Gujarat make news, students and faculty tell AT there’s no need to worry yet.

In recent years, ragging has come to mean a dirty word, especially with the Supreme Court coming down heavily against it, defining it in no uncertain terms in terms of verbal, physical and sexual ragging.

Surprisingly this year there have been instances of ragging reported in Gujarat, a state hitherto unaffected by the menace. Sample this: students in Balachadi Sainik School in Jamnagar district complained of ragging, a case of ragging also took the Ahmedabad Dental College and Hospital by storm. And as if that wasn’t enough, there were accusations of the same at the Faculty of Science, MS University (MSU), Vadodara.

C F Desai, head, department of Physics, Faculty of Science, MSU denies the allegations of ragging in the department. “The interaction between first and final year MSC students were normal. Every year such interactions take place in the presence of teachers where freshers are encouraged to ask questions about life in the campus to the final year students. Seniors on their part help freshers with study notes and the like, giving them a feel of what the years at the faculty have in store for them.”

Running down these incidents as stray cases, most academicians emphasise that Gujarat has so far been safe from ragging. Dean of Faculty of Technology and Engineering, MSU, professor B S Parekh says, “It is a myth that students in engineering colleges face severe ragging. We have not come across any such complaints. To ensure such tendencies are nipped in the bud, we have rules against ragging put up on notice boards. Teachers talk to students on a regular basis, asking them about their grievances, if any.”

Sarju Ganatra, senate member, Medical College, Gujarat University, points out, “Ragging is frowned at and dealt with very strictly. Last year, for instance, a senior student happened to rag a junior, though there was nothing severe about it. But he was rusticated from the hostel for three months and only allowed in after his parents met the principal and he rendered a written apology.”

Vinaysinh Tomar, Ahmedabad city president, National Students Union of India (NSUI) believes that, “With colleges taking strict action against offenders, ragging has taken a back seat. It does however, rear its head in hostels, but if students complain, prompt action is taken. Last year, six students from an arts college were rusticated for ragging.”

Some however, don’t seem to mind the occasional teasing. Achal Ananth, an engineering student of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National University of Technology, Surat, says, “I was asked by my seniors to wear certain types of outfits. I didn’t mind that one bit. Neither did it bother me that they teased me and asked me not to laugh when they did so.”

The law, however, frowns when such liberties are taken, because a fine line separates ragging from harmless teasing!

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