Friday, June 29, 2007

[IndLaw] 3 medicos held for ragging in AP



Police arrested three medicos for ragging dental college students.

Police sources told UNI today that N Venkatachalapathi, M Suresh and C Ram Prakash were staying at the college hostel at Mogalrajapuram along with dental students Satish Kumar, Vamsi and Pual.

At the hostel, the trio ragged the dental students by asking them to read out foul language written on a piece of paper, among other things.

Following this, one of the victims lodged a complaint with police.

Cases were registered under non-bailable sections against the three MBBS students. They would be produced before a city magistrate court later in the day for remand.

(UNI)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

[Telegraph] No ragging please, we are students

Link to article

The latest Supreme Court directive takes cognisance of the menace called ragging. But the responsibility of its implementation rests with the state, says Shubhobroto Ghosh

Harsh Agarwal was a student who dreamt of becoming a doctor. But his dream turned into a nightmare when he gained admission to the Motilal Nehru Medical College, Allahabad in 2000. “I was subjected to such severe physical, verbal and mental abuse that I had to leave midway,” recalls Harsh. He is not alone in his suffering under the ubiquitous phenomenon of what is popularly known as ragging — a system wherein senior students have the social sanction to harass new students. There are many who share Harsh’s fate.

According to statistics published by the Coalition to Uproot Ragging from Education, an NGO that seeks to ban ragging in India, at least 25 students in Indian educational institutions have succumbed to the brutalities of ragging in the past seven years. In many cases, complaints by victims have fallen on deaf ears.

Yet, some states already have laws against ragging. West Bengal, for instance, has its own state law — the West Bengal Prohibition of Ragging in Educational Institutes Act, 2000 — to combat ragging. So do Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

But now the Supreme Court of India has taken cognisance of this menace. Recognising the enormous emotional and physical trauma ragging may cause in India, the court, in a special leave petition last year (University of Kerala versus Council of Principals in Colleges, Kerala and others), instituted a committee headed by former CBI director R.K. Raghavan to study all aspects of ragging and to suggest remedies. And there seems to be a ray of hope. “In the latest directive, the Supreme Court has taken note of several suggestions including the inclusion of ragging as a cognisable offence under the Indian Penal Code,” notes Rajendra Prasad, a member of the Raghavan committee and principal of Ramjas College in New Delhi .

The Supreme Court directive, issued on May 16 this year, categorically states that for every incident of ragging where the victim or his parents are not satisfied with the educational institution’s arrangements, a first information report (FIR) must be filed without exception by the institutional authorities with the local police. The directive further states that, “Any failure on the part of the institutional authority or negligence or deliberate delay in lodging the FIR shall be construed to be an act of culpable negligence.”

Several lawyers have welcomed the move. Sardar Amjad Ali, a lawyer at Calcutta High Court, says, “When ragging goes beyond the norms of civilised behaviour, the law has to take its course since the rational behaviour of senior students towards juniors is necessary for the upkeep of academic discipline.”

Questions are also being raised on whether any kind of forced activity, no matter how innocuous, should be allowed under the pretext of ragging. Dr Vikas Sharma, a consultant psychiatrist at Vidyasagar Institute of Mental Health and Neural Sciences in Delhi, is of the opinion that individuals vary in sensitivity and the absence of free will to sing a song or do a caricature may humiliate students. “Victims of ragging who face intense psychological trauma can suffer long term anxiety disorders and can even commit suicide,” he points out, adding, “So the law should act as a deterrent towards any kind of activity that can lead to exploitation of the vulnerable.”

Agrees Ahona Chakraborty, head of the counselling division of Legal Aid Services in West Bengal. “Ragging is a sick phenomenon and the latest legal directive should also punish teachers who aid and abet this heinous practice,” she says.

This, however, is not the first legal intervention of the judiciary to prevent the torture of students in colleges and universities. Joymalya Bagchi, an advocate at Calcutta High Court, cites two cases that had given similar directives to combat ragging. The Pratul Kumar Sinha versus the State of West Bengal and others case in 1994 and the Vishwa Jagriti Mission through President versus Central Government through Cabinet Secretary and others case in 2001 had both dealt with the menace of ragging. “In both the instances, the judiciary had given instructions for punishment of raggers and disaffiliation of institutions that failed to provide adequate support and security for students,” he says.

A notable effort to eradicate ragging was made when the Prevention of Ragging in Colleges and Institutions Bill was introduced on May 6, 2005, in the Rajya Sabha. The Bill, however, was never passed and the legalities of ragging remained an outstanding issue till the latest Supreme Court directive. “The judiciary can administer justice but the responsibility to implement the Supreme Court directive rests entirely with the state,” says Bagchi.

But a few lawyers have raised some questions on the Supreme Court directive. Says Anant Asthana, a Delhi-based lawyer who runs Lawyers Action and Intervention Cell, which provides legal assistance to victims of ragging, “A major issue in these cases is the violation of human rights. Although the Supreme Court directive suggests that ragging as a subject be introduced by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) and the respective State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) to create awareness in schools, there is still a lot of ground to be covered to make people aware that ragging is an important human rights issue.”

Asthana also mentions that very few ragging cases are taken up in court as victims fear stigmatisation and colleges fear a loss of reputation. “The law is the best agency to act as a deterrent but it has to be ensured that there is no misuse of an FIR by way of collusion between police and educational institutions to hush up cases,” he points out.

The Supreme Court has also formed a panel to monitor ragging in all educational institutions and submit a report in September this year. Till then, individuals like Harsh Agarwal can only hope that the present directive will palliate the pain of their shattered dreams.

FATAL FUN

Questions are also being raised on whether any kind of forced activity, no matter how innocuous, should be allowed under the pretext of ragging

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

[Telegraph] IIT students to get ‘referee’



Lucknow, June 25: An ombudsman will help solve students’ problems at IIT Kanpur, rocked by a spate of suicides and incidents of ragging over the past three years.

A search is on to find somebody suitable for the job, but the institute’s deputy director, Kripa Shankar, said a retired high court judge would be preferred. “The students may have complaints against anyone or anything. They may have something against me. They can approach the ombudsman.”

The ombudsman — the campus equivalent of a referee — should start work from July. An independent authority, he will help students raise problems with their department heads and even the director, if need be.

At present, a dean of students’ affairs handles the job, but he finds it difficult to cope with the issues of an institute which now has over 3,000 students, IIT sources said.

Also, the dean usually deals with academic matters, while the problems of students are often about relations with a teacher and troubles with peers or seniors.

Authorities hope that having an ombudsman in place will help avert incidents like the one where a student upset at his unsolved problems tried to smash his head on a glass-pane outside the director’s office two years back.

Some steps have been taken on against ragging, a scourge the institute has been trying to get rid of for some time. Students were asked to sign an undertaking declaring they would not indulge in such practices.

On suicides, the authorities were surprised that the incidents occurred because students opt for counselling and those prone to taking the dire step are kept under watch.

[KeralaOnline] Hearing on SME ragging case postponed to July 12



Kottayam: The special court here today postponed the first phase of hearing of the SME ragging case to July 12. The case was that a junior student of the School of Medical Education (SME) coming under the MG University was physically assaulted by seniors. The case has been postponed following the defendants' demand seeking more time for hearing.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

[ToI] New anti-ragging rule on its way in IIT Kanpur



KANPUR: Come July and the students of IIT Kanpur will have to sign a declaration that they would not be involved in any kind of ragging activities or else face severe punishment.

Under the declaration, if any student was found in any type of ragging activity, he/ she would be bound for any punishment - from registration of police case to rustication - as suggested by the authorities, IIT Kanpur assistant registrar K B Satyamurthy said.

Besides the students, their parents or guardians would also have to make declaration saying if their wards were found to be involved in ragging, they would accept the punishment as prescribed by the institute.

The new rule will be applicable to both freshers and senior students of the institute.

Satyamurthy said that IIT Kanpur director Sanjay Govind Dhande was also a member of the Raghvan Committee, constituted by the Supreme Court to recommend measures to check ragging in educational institutions.

The new rule, which will come into effect from the new academic session, is part of the suggestions given by the Raghvan Committee.

Friday, June 22, 2007

[ET] Colleges to give ragging a decent burial

The article appeared in The Economic Times, June 21, 2007
Available on the e-paper

Priyanka Talwar NEW DELHI


WITH THE new academic year round the corner, colleges across the country are gearing up to prevent first-year students from any harassment in the name of ragging. What passes off as the relatively harmless singing and dancing in the universities of Delhi and Mumbai, manifests itself in varying psychological and physical forms in professional colleges across the country.

Keeping in mind the extent of the severity of ragging, the Raghavan Committee, constituted on the directive of the Supreme Court, has recommended the inclusion of ragging under the Indian Penal Code, now treating it as a criminal offence. Ragging has been defined as the systematic ritual physical and psychological abuse of first-year students in colleges by their seniors, with the purported intent of socially inducting the newcomers into the group. “The ragging taking place in the campuses of big universities, like Delhi University, represents barely 1% of the actual scenario across professional colleges in the country. The ragging in medical and engineering colleges is so severe at times that it would be appropriate to term it as an abuse of human rights,” Harsh Agarwal, founder, Coalition to Uproot Ragging from Education (CURE), said.

The recent Supreme Court ruling asked for a First Information Report (FIR) to be filed by the institutional authorities with the local police in case the victim or the victim’s family is not satisfied with the institutional arrangement for action. In Kerala University, the college principal can become the first accused in a ragging incident. “According to the university rules, if a ragging incident is reported to the college principal, he must take action within seven days of the complaint. If the principal fails to order an enquiry or take action, he becomes the first accused in the enquiry constituted at the university level,” Kerala University’s public relations officer SD Prins said.

At the Orissa University of Agriculture & Technology, students have to sign an undertaking during admission, pledging not to engage in any form of ragging. Any violation, mandates a punishment depending upon the severity of the offence. In the past, the college has fined a student Rs 20,000 and even expelled a student for a year. Going by the adage that prevention is better than cure, some colleges are trying to minimise interaction between first-year students and their seniors. At the National Institute of Technology (NIT), Calicut, freshers are escorted from their hostel to the classes by security personnel, to ensure no fresher is cornered by any senior student. Starting this July, freshers at NIT will have a separate hostel.

Not all colleges favour an exclusionist approach. Some colleges, like the Gujarat Vidyapeeth, Ahmedabad, strongly encourage interaction between freshers and seniors through on-campus community work such as cooking and cleaning, and prayer services held twice a day. “Ragging helps students know each other, and we felt that this could be promoted by a college policy itself,” Gujarat Vidyapeeth’s registrar Rajendra Khimani said.

Is the law to treat ragging as a criminal offence deterrent enough? Vidya Thatte, public relations officer, BJ Medical College, Pune, said that FIRs would help reduce such cases, but not guarantee a stop on ragging. “Whatever we might do to prevent ragging, the possibility of some black sheep in any college can’t be ruled out,” she said.

(With inputs from Saket Ambarkhane & Shreya Biswas)

[Rediff] Ragging: Don't be a victim



Disha Pinge | June 21, 2007 | 15:27 IST

Ask any college student what he or she was most nervous about on the first day of college and the answer will most probably be the same -- ragging. But what is ragging? Who does it and why?

There is no clear definition of ragging (or hazing), but it is generally understood to be the act of college seniors subjecting juniors to teasing or practical jokes. The term includes a relatively harmless prank such as asking a junior to roll a coin around the basketball court to more serious or dangerous acts like sexual abuse and torture.

Ragging initially began as an innocent tradition to get new students acquainted with each other but has gradually become a method by which anti-social elements of the institute assert their dominance on the campus.

Although ragging can happen in any college, it is most prevalent in medical and engineering colleges. The reason being most students live on campus and are thus soft targets.

What to do if you are ragged

Ragging can assume any form -- abusive language directed at the student or his family, making juniors run errands for seniors, sexual abuse, forcing freshers to strip or speak obscenely about professors in front of other students. Basically, any form of abuse against juniors amounts to ragging.

If any of this is happening to you, inform your family about it first. Going against one's college seniors can be stressful for a fresher, so make sure you have all the support you can get from your family and friends.

The second step is to approach the institute's authorities. Inform them of the goings-on and the names of the culprits. Most colleges have an anti-ragging cell -- an association of professors and students who track down and take disciplinary action against students indulging in ragging.

If the college authorities seem unwilling to take action, and the severity of the offence is great, you can even approach the police. Ragging has been recognised as a crime in India and the police are legally obliged to investigate the matter.

On the right side of the law

The Raghavan Committee report, submitted to the court in May 2007, proposes the inclusion of ragging as a special section under the Indian penal code. The Supreme Court's interim order on May 16, 2007, has made it obligatory for academic institutions to file FIRs with the police in case of a complaint of ragging.

This ensures that ragging is recignised as a criminal offence and must be dealt with by the police. An official complaint cannot be decided on by any disciplinary committees of the academic institution, but will follow due criminal proceedings.

How to deal with being ragged

Sometimes, intervention may come too late. In a number of cases, students have succumbed to the humiliation of ragging, and fall victim to bouts of depression and lack of interest in academic pursuits. Extreme abuse has even caused some students to attempt suicide.

It is recommended that students grappling with the humiliation of ragging seek help from a trained counsellor. Parents and teachers must take it upon themselves to safeguard the mental health of students by keeping all the channels of communication open. Every effort must be made to help a victim deal with the incident and move on.

So, don't let the fear of being ragged prevent you from pursuing a happy and fruitful college career. Remember, it is as much a crime to tolerate oppression as it is to subject someone to it. Timely action can help change your freshman year from a nightmare into a dream come true.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

[Hindu] Ragging is never fun



The Supreme Court orders on ragging should not only curb the practice but also generate awareness.

AKHILA SIVADAS

Photo: R.V. Moorthy

HEALTHY EQUATIONS: Motivate students to discover other ways of welcoming new entrants.

COME June and all of us get into the annual ritual of celebrating exam results, checking out new courses, rating universities, getting involved as a family and community in the “rites of passage” from school to college and debating endles sly the many ethical and material concerns that this process throws up. This year would have been no different but for the slew of directives that the apex court has issued to check ragging on campuses across the country.

On May 16, the Supreme Court declared that ragging and any form of abetment to ragging, causing injury or subjecting anyone to forceful confinement, physical and sexual assault, would now be treated as a criminal offence. And as in the case of Section 498 A, dealing with cruelty towards women, since the burden of proof would be on the accused rather than the victims of ragging, the court has empowered victims and their families to get the FIR registered.
Issue and its ramifications

The question that needs to be asked is whether all the stakeholders — students, parents and guardians, faculty and administrators — understand the full implications of the law and are ready to confront the issue with all its ramifications.

Dr. Kavita Sharma, Principal of a leading college in Delhi University, stated that while they have been consistently addressing the ragging issue over the last few years and even evolved a graded response to the problem — from fining students to taking extreme steps of easing them out of the hostel to even rusticating some — the challenge today is to go beyond managing and arbitrating on the issue and get on with the business of legally enforcing the ban on ragging. With the Supreme Court determined to crack down on it, she was clear that “it is not the form of ragging” but how the fresher perceives the ordeal that would determine the issue.

“We have been telling students that there is no distinction between harmless or normal ragging where you get the juniors to sing and dance versus ragging that takes on more a virulent form. At the end of the day, even mild forms of ragging could prove to be hard on some young people and could lead to a demand for legal redress,” she added.

Therefore, the major challenge before the academic community, she emphasised, is not only to make sure that the “law acts as a deterrent and prevents all excesses but also motivates the students to search for alternatives, discover other ways of welcoming the new entrants, bring freshers into the college mainstream and establish a more healthy equation with them.”

In fact, for a majority of students who are day scholars, much of the ragging was “harmless interaction where juniors get introduced to the seniors and the latter in turn discovered the talents of the juniors,” said Samil Ahmed from Jamia Millia University, New Delhi.

Photo: K.R. Deepak


Law as deterrent: Create an awareness about the penalties.

In some instances, students agree that the seniors even “pulled their leg” and sent them scurrying to a classroom in the opposite direction. But even while defending the practice of “healthy ragging”, Nida (a first-year student from Jamia Millia) felt that there is a thin line of distinction between such healthy ragging and the not-so-healthy forms. For students the first few days are “days of terror” and the court order will come as a relief to many. “At least this year the freshers will feel relaxed and know what to do if faced with an unbearable situation,” she added.

Clearly, the crux of the problem lies in the selective engagement with the issue. One such convenient spin is that the court is not in any way questioning the convention or tradition of ragging. What it is seeking to do is to prevent the excesses and distortions that have over the years crept into the body politic of the campus and is particularly vicious in the professional colleges and more so in the many new-found campuses, where money and muscle power have combined to create an altogether new culture of acquiring knowledge.

Undoubtedly, there has been some clinching as well as disturbing evidence on how vicious the whole problem has become. Those who have been through the most harrowing experiences have not only spoken up but also decided to take on the menace headlong and not rest till the heinous practice is appropriately dealt with and weeded out altogether.

Yet, anti-ragging advocates like Shivam Vij, editor of the website stopragging, have consistently maintained that there is nothing like “mild ragging” and that criminalisation is inherent in the whole process and that what we are witnessing today is nothing short of gross human rights violation. People like him have no patience with those who take a “politically correct” position on ragging and “despite all the horror stories… lecture on how good ragging can be,” or about how one needs to distinguish between the many ice-breakers that seniors use to draw the freshers out of their shell and make them “bold and get exposed to the world” and the exceptional instances when they “cross the limit and inflict the worst kind of brutalities”.

Many such independent groups have collaborated with the Raghavan Committee, set up by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, to find ways to curb the practice of ragging in schools and colleges.
Anguish and trauma

It does not take too much to understand where this anguish and the “enough-is-enough” position stem from. Sharing her experience, one parent observed that three years ago, when she found her son traumatised by the ragging, she decided to shift him to another college and get him to move on with his life, she realised that she was fortunate in being able to “act decisively and nip the issue in its bud.” At that point of time, when she considered the possibility of seeking redress, she was discouraged by the fear of reprisal.

So while welcoming the court directives on the grounds that it will definitely discourage ragging, she wonders whether, if the option to register an FIR had been available to her three years ago, she would have exercised it or not. One gets the feeling that not everyone feels confident of seeking police intervention. With most campuses anxious to maintain their autonomy and prevent undue intrusion by the police, this may discourage victims of ragging and their families to seek legal redress.

Most stakeholders agree that a strong legal response was inevitable and the recent developments warranted it. Even while many constructive methods were devised to check the practice, there is a feeling that these measures only succeeded in driving the practice underground, or more precisely behind closed doors. Many victims have reported how a fa├žade of self-regulation has been maintained to keep administrators happy and reassure them that the situation was under control. In fact, one fall-out has been hardening of such malpractices and the court, by empowering the victim, is trying to nail this persistent offender and perpetrator.

So the unanimous opinion is that the pendulum has swung in favour of the much-needed legal deterrents and the university authorities are wasting no time in swinging into action. The University Grants Commission has issued instructions to all universities to implement the court orders in the strictest possible manner. The Secretary of the UGC, T.R. Kenn, has been quoted in the media as calling on all universities “to implement the directives of the Supreme Court in letter and spirit.”
Gearing up

Meanwhile, the authorities across colleges, universities and professional institutions such as IITs, are gearing up to implement the court’s orders. According to Rajendra Singh, Registrar, IIT, Delhi, they “are taking every possible step to implement the court’s directives in toto.” This involves setting up a common mechanism across the IITs to enforce the law and monitor the situation, provide students with mobile numbers of all faculty members associated with the anti-ragging panel and strengthen students’ access to services such as helplines.

Speaking about the measures taken by the colleges affiliated to Delhi University, Dr. Kavita Sharma said that “apart from incorporating the court’s orders in the prospectus and ensuring that they are prominently displayed in different parts of the colleges, we are also orienting the students on the issue and their responsibilities and obligations and strengthening the self-regulation processes that the college has developed over the years.”

Clearly the challenge is twofold: First to deal with the many horrific incidents of the past; to collectively introspect, reflect and face the issue squarely and address the bitterness and sense of estrangement that it has generated among people who have experienced it at close quarters. Second, to ensure that under the fear of the law the authorities do not respond in a knee-jerk fashion and quite unintentionally contribute to the miscarriage of justice.

Some unsuspecting young people should not get caught in the crossfire, used to either to settle scores or get victimised by peremptory legal processes. Enough checks have to be created to ensure that we make a new beginning and use the law to not only curb the practice but to generate public awareness on the issue and have an informed engagement with it.

[IE] Cops get cracking on ragging, 65 held


Neeraj Chauhan

New Delhi, June 15: As the admission process is on in full swing at Delhi University, it’s not just the students who are sweating it out. Delhi Police, following the Supreme Court’s order on ragging and making girls feel safe, this time has launched its anti-ragging campaign in advance.

Till Friday, the last day for filling admission forms in Delhi University, police detained more than 65 outsiders “who had nothing to do with admissions”. Also, pamphlets were distributed among girls detailing some do’s and don’ts while on campus to avoid harassment.

In the past three weeks, around 15,000 students visited North Campus everyday, accompanied by friends or family members. Apart from seven inspectors from different police stations, North District police have deployed around 150 policemen and two platoons of women officers of CRPF. “We held several meetings with the DU Vice-Chancellor, Proctor, college authorities, student organisations and volunteers who sensitised girls along with our men. Any suspected activity or misbehaviour was checked by our officers and no teasing cases were reported,” said Devesh Srivastav, DCP, North district.

“Sixty-five outsiders were taken custody. Some of them were accompanying students while others came here for fun,” said a senior police officer. The police distributed around 8,000 pamphlets among students and placed signboards mentioning some guidelines for the offenders and students. Policemen were also deployed around hostels.

The pamphlets distributed with the help of student organisations mentioned slogans like “ragging is an evil in educational institutes, it’s against humanity and it hurts the sentiments of new-comers”. Banners warning the offenders were also put up. The police mentioned its helpline numbers, 1091 and 100, in bold letters everywhere.

“I was surprised to see so many policemen in university area, but I felt safe as well,” said Sandhya Sharma, an aspirant. The police say that their campaign would continue in coming days when the students rush for interviews.

The Supreme Court recently ordered educational institutions to constitute special anti-ragging committees and squads at the institutional level to check the menace.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

[NewIndPress] SFI workers smash down computers



Wednesday June 13 2007 13:12 IST

KOZHIKODE: A group of SFI activists on Tuesday attacked the office of Veda Vyasa Trust and its industrial training institute at Chalappuram in the city.

According to police the provocation for the attack is suspected to be the suspension of four students from the engineering college run by the trust at Vazhayoor in Malappuram district.

Students were suspended in January, but SFI took up the cudgels for them.

The student outfit has been demanding that the college management should revoke the suspension of the ragging accused.

However, the management did not budge. Assailants have smashed down 25 computers, window panes, furniture at the training institute, Calicut Institute of Engineering and Technology.

They stormed into the institute, after breaking police ribbon.

Five policemen, students and teachers of the institute sustained minor injuries in heavy stone pelting by SFI activists.

Kasaba police have registered a case.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

[Tehelka] Toothless verdict



The Supreme Court’s new order stops short of endorsing measures that would have a real impact

Shivam Vij
New Delhi

The court is silent on the Raghavan Committee’s recommendation that the onus to prove ragging did not take place should be on the accused The Supreme Court’s interim order on ragging has again put the issue of implementation of anti-ragging measures in a limbo, casting doubts over the potential impact on ragging of the recommendations of what is the second Supreme Court-appointed committee on ragging in seven years.

In 2001, the apex court had acted upon the recommendations of the Unnikrishnan Committee and had recommended that educational institutions that cannot curb ragging may be penalised in terms of funding or affiliation by the affiliating bodies such as the UGC or the aicte. These bodies, however, did not take such measures, not even against at least 15 institutions where students died because of ragging since 2001. Taking note of the deaths, the Supreme Court set up another committee in late 2006 under the chairmanship of former CBI chief RK Raghavan. In view of the inaction of the UGC and the aicte, the Raghavan Committee had submitted 50 recommendations that sought to do away with ambiguities so as to fix clear responsibilities at the school, college, university, affiliating body, district administration, state and central government levels. However, it is unclear whether the Supreme Court’s May 16 order endorses this.

The 2001 order had said that ragging should be dealt with within the institution and the police should be invited into the institution only by the principal. However, the Raghavan Committee noted that principals try to brush complaints of ragging under the carpet. The committee’s recommendation that the institution must file an FIR where the victim or parent is not satisfied, has been endorsed by the court’s new order but it may not have much impact as ragging victims mostly prefer anonymity while complaining. If the head of the institution chooses to ignore an anonymous complaint, there is no way to fix accountability.

Even when FIRs are filed, the committee has observed that there has not been a single conviction in a ragging case. This is primarily because there is often no evidence to prove ragging and eyewitnesses are rarely ready to speak in court. The committee had recommended that the onus of proving that ragging did not take place should be on the accused. The SC order is silent on this, as also on the idea that there be a separate cadre of hostel wardens.

The order assigns to anti-ragging squads within educational institutions the task of ensuring that all ragging-related regulations are implemented, but considering that these squads work within the purview of the head of the institution there is again the issue of external accountability. The order says that the committee “shall continue to monitor the functioning of the anti-ragging committees and the squads to be formed”. Members of the committee are, however, as yet clueless about their role hereafter. The committee had asked that the UGC be told to form a board that would monitor implementation.

The Supreme Court will again take up the case in September and is expected to decide on other recommendations such as the National Assessment and Accreditation Council taking into account the status of ragging while giving educational institutions a rating. Another recommendation of the committee is to begin classes for freshers seven days before that of seniors and the setting up of mentoring cells where seniors would be counsellors to freshers. It also asks for the Indian Penal Code to be amended to include ragging and define it as a criminal offence.

The order endorses the committee’s request for ragging cases to be tried in a fast track court but only as an exhortation, without commenting on the committee’s recommendation that the Criminal Procedure Code be amended to formalise this.

» Writer’s e-mail: shivam@tehelka.com
Jun 09 , 2007

Saturday, June 02, 2007

[Telegraph] Ragging forces student to quit


OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

Agartala, June 1: Torture on a first year student has tarred the reputation of Agartala Medical College. A team of the Medical Council of India is scheduled to visit the college soon.

The landmark judgment by the Supreme Court banning ragging in schools and colleges was of little use for Arijit Sen, a first year student of the college, who had to discontinue his studies. His father Biswabandhu Sen, a senior Congress leader, took away his son’s belongings from the college hostel yesterday.

Sen, a resident of Dharmangar subdivisional town of North Tripura, said his son had been targeted by some second year students who often used to pressure him to bring money. “Even after he informed the principal, no action was taken,” Sen said.

After they came to know about the complaint in March this year, senior students Santanu Das, Benoy Debnath, Rajesh Nath and Niladri Debbarma dragged Arijit to a desolate place and asked him to kneel down. They then used safety pins to pierce his fingers. He was also kicked and beaten up. When Arijit lay unconscious, the four, identified by Arijit’s father, left the spot.

Ever since Arijit checked into room 118 in the new hostel building, he was bullied. “On the very first night, he was beaten up and the seniors demanded that he shell out money. On May 11, he was taken to the roof of a building under construction and again roughed up,” Sen said, adding that they then held him hanging down from a parapet and told that police would believe it to be a case of suicide if they dropped him.

Sen wrote a letter to the principal on May 15 saying his son would not be able to continue studies and took Arijit back home yesterday. He had also brought the matter to the notice of health minister Tapan Chakraborty.

Denying allegations of torture, principal Dilip Chandra Das said: “The boy has a psychological problem and we asked him to stay back.”

“His guardians have not given anything in writing,” Das said. He, however, said that he was taking action against the accused.

[IE] Colleges begin crackdown on ragging


Pallavi Singh

New Delhi, June 1: In line with the Supreme Court’s interim guidelines issued to educational institutions on the basis of the RK Raghavan committee on ragging, most colleges have begun setting up anti-ragging committees.

In a meeting with college principals and the police last week, varsity authorities asked all 79 colleges under the university to take necessary steps to avoid any “unsolicited attempts” by seniors when sessions begin.

While the anti-ragging panels, consisting of teachers, students and hostel wardens, will conduct surprise checks at hostels, canteens and bus stops, colleges like Hansraj and Hindu are planning to install surveillance cameras on campus. A few colleges like Kirori Mal and Ramjas already have cameras on campus. “We will send a proposal to the UGC next week seeking funds,” said Kavita Sharma, Principal, Hindu College.

IP College for Women plans to take a step further. A small squad of teachers and students from the college’s proctorial committee plan to conduct surprise checks in paying guest accommodations.

“The committee will make a list of students living in PGs and visit their landlords. We will also ask them to report any ragging that may take place,” said Manasvini Yogi, publicity incharge at the college.

Meanwhile, Delhi Police have put up posters discouraging ragging at campuses. The number of cops in plain clothes deployed outside colleges has also gone up. “There are 5 policemen deployed outside every college but they have been asked not to enter unless necessary,” said Prof SK Arora, Principal, Hansraj College. Colleges like Kirori Mal have also hired private security guards. Proctor Gurmeet Singh said the varsity ordinances on ragging and indiscipline will be strictly enforced.

“We have already written to all principals asking them to abide by SC and existing university guidelines on ragging. We’ll send another letter in the next few days as an advisory to reiterate what we have said before, which is to activate proctorial boards, volunteers from NCC and NSS and highlight university ordinances on ragging, among others,” Singh said.

Friday, June 01, 2007

[ToI] Is ragging mere social interaction?


1 Jun, 2007
ANJALI MUTHANNA & PALLAVI BORKAR


Colleges are re-opening and this means that it's going to be a pretty nerve-wracking experience for freshers. It’s that time of year again. Colleges are re-opening and this means that it's going to be a pretty nerve-wracking experience for freshers. It's not just that they're going to be in a new institution and that many will be in a new city altogether ; it's the initiation that they will have to undergo in the form of ragging. And with the Supreme Court saying that ragging is now considered a punishable offence, will that change things for freshers and their college experience?

IT'S JUST SOCIAL INTERACTION

Many students are of the opinion that ragging, at least in Bangalore, is just harmless fun. When mass communication student Baniaikynmaw Shanpru came to Bangalore to do her MA at Commits, she was apprehensive about the ragging she had to face. "I didn't know what it would be like," she says, "but there was nothing extreme. We had to wear white clothes and we were made to dance. I'd call it an interactive session between the seniors and the juniors." Arlene Kharnongrum, a postgraduate student, who did her undergrad in Jyothi Nivas College says she went through fun ragging there. "I've only done the harmless stuff like singing. That's fine and you get to know your seniors," she says. Joash Benjamin, who will join Christ College in a couple of weeks, says that he's not worried about ragging. "It might happen, but I know my seniors already, so it won't be anything I can't handle," he says.

BUT WHAT IF IT'S EXTREME?

Others say that ragging is acceptable to a certain extent, but there are times when it can get out of control and that's when limits have to be set. "Ragging can be permitted, but there must be rules on where to draw the line," says management student student Abhishek Gopal. "Seniors should be called before the juniors come and told that this is as far as it can go. If you cross that, you're liable for punishment." he says. Jemima Mohan, who has just passed out from JNC and is going to join Christ College, says that she's worried about the ragging she'll face at her new college because she's seen what her seniors used to do at her previous one. "Juniors would ask for directions to get to a classroom and the seniors would give them the wrong directions. They'd go to a class and there'd be seniors when you opened the door and they'd laugh. That's embarrassing. That's why I feel ragging shouldn't be allowed because it doesn't help you open up to your seniors," she says.

IS THE SC RULING JUSTIFIED?

Anand Rao, who's a student at a medical college in Bangalore, says he's heard of instances of ragging getting out of hand. "If you're firm about what you will do and what you won't , it's alright. But if the person being ragged is insecure, then it can get out of control. If your seniors ask you to strip completely and you do, comments will be passed and the person being ragged will go home or go back to the hostel weeping," he says. Anand adds that ragging could be supervised, but adds it's not always practical. "So in a sense, it's better to ban it or to pass a law making it a punishable offence, but that might push it underground."

Abhishek, however, says the onus should be on the management. "This is not something that needs the SC's intervention. It is, at the most basic level, a way for juniors to get to know their seniors and the management should set certain rules to ensure it doesn't get out of hand," he says.

Even John Joseph Kennedy, a lecturer at Christ College, says it's up to the teachers to be alert at the beginning of the year. "The SC should not be brought into this. But teachers have to be alert and must be able to distinguish between casual ragging and more serious forms and then step in accordingly," he says.

EXPERTSPEAK

Anuradha Prabhudesai, counselling psychologist "The government's move to make ragging a punishable offence was necessary. Ragging is a major fear among most students and is more prevalent in medical schools and engineering colleges, especially in the districts. Such cases are often extreme so such a law should have been passed long ago. Students today are already under so much stress with respect to marks, admissions, curriculum - ragging adds on to the overall pressure.

Ragging can cause serious and severe mental damage to a child. It makes it difficult for students to muster up the courage and gain back their self-esteem to continue in college. Ragging is more about humiliation, a strong sense of rejection and fear that students face. People make excuses saying it's another way of making friends but one doesn't need to humiliate the other to be friends."