India has witnessed an increase in the cases of ragging in Educational Institutions by a whopping 75%, the highest since 2013. How rightly put when we say that the end may not always justify the means. Behind the bamboozlement of ‘welcoming’ new students to college, ragging, in actuality, is a notorious practice wherein the senior students get an excuse to harass their junior counterparts, and more often than not, make them easy targets to satiate their own perverse sadistic pleasures.
What is Ragging After All?
Ragging, as we all might know, refers to playing practical jokes on somebody or teaching someone a lesson. According to the Reader’s Digest Great Encyclopedia Dictionary,
“Ragging means a noisy disorderly conduct, the annual parade of students in fancy dress to collect money for charity, playing rough jokes, or throwing into wild disorder a person’s room, etc.”
Or as Supreme Court likes to define it “ Ragging is any disorderly conduct whether by words spoken or written or by an act which has the effect of teasing, treating or handling with rudeness to any student, indulging in rowdy or undisciplined activities which cause or likely to cause annoyance, hardship or psychological harm or to raise fear or apprehension thereof in a fresher or a junior student and which has the effect of causing or generating a sense of shame or embarrassment so as to adversely affect the psyche of a fresher or a junior student.”
Are There Any Laws To Procure Us From Ragging?
At the moment, there are only four state legislations in India that prohibit ragging. These are:
1. The Prohibition of Ragging Act, 1996. (Applicable in the State of Tamil Nadu).
2. The Kerala Prohibition of Ragging Act, 1998.
3. The Maharashtra Prohibition of Ragging Act, 1999.
4. The Prohibition of Ragging in Educational Institutes Act, 2000 (Applicable in the State of West Bengal).
Despite incidents of Ragging being reported from almost all states in India, only four states, namely, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Maharashtra, and West Bengal, have enacted legislation to deal with it. As for other states and union territories in India, Ragging is banned but only through circulars and administrative orders.
Adverse Effects Of Ragging
- The victims of ragging suffer maximum in forms of depression, isolation, demoralization, and many other forms of detrimental effects on the personality.
- In extreme cases, the victim can even commit suicide due to the mental pressures that develop over a while.
- If ragging is not terminated at any point, the entire learning atmosphere is vitiated.
- There will be a constant fear and tension in the mind of every second student that she/he might be the next victim of ragging.
- The free and liberal atmosphere in learning tends to vanish in such colleges or institutes.
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Punishments To The Students For Ragging In Educational Institutions
- The punishment to be meted out has to be exemplary and justified harsh to act as a deterrent against the recurrence of such incident.
- Every single incident of ragging a First Information Report (FIR) must be filed without exception by the Institutional authority with the local police authorities.
- Anti-ragging Committee of the Institution shall take an appropriate decision, concerning punishment.
- Depending upon the nature and gravity of the offence as established the possible punishments for those found guilty of ragging at the institution level shall be anyone or any combination of the following:
- Cancellation of admission.
- Suspension from attending classes.
- Withholding/withdrawing Scholarship/Fellowship and other benefits.
- Debarring from appearing in any test/ examination or another evaluation process.
- Withholding results.
- Suspension/expulsion from the hostel
- Debarring from representing the institution in any regional, national, or international meet, tournament, or youth festival, etc.
- Restriction from the Institution for a period ranging from 1 to 4 semesters.
- Expulsion from the Institution and consequent debarring from admission to any other institution.
- Collective punishment: when the persons committing or abetting the crime of ragging are not identified the institution shall resort to collective punishment as a deterrent to ensure community pressure on potential raggers.
What Could Be Done To Avoid/ Prevent Ragging?
- Anti-ragging movements to be initiated by all colleges and educational institutes
- Undertakings to be taken both from the freshmen and their parents/ guardians
- Undertaking to be taken from seniors students and their parents/guardians too
- Notices to be issued indicating where to approach for redressal in case of ragging
- Management, principles, and the teaching staff to have a personal interaction with the freshmen
- Proctorial committees to be set up
- Ragging- prone zones to be identified and carefully guarded
- Society to be sensitized on the issue of ragging
- Failure to prevent ragging to be constructed as an act of negligence
- Hostels/accommodations to be carefully guarded
- Migration certificates to mention whether the student ever indulged in ragging
- Withdrawal of financial assistance to institutes where ragging incidents are reported
- Students to first approach their colleges to report ragging in educational institutions
- Police not to follow a retributive approach while dealing with ragging culprits
Apart from sustaining grievous physical injuries, those unfortunate students who succumb to ragging either develop a fear psychosis that haunts them throughout their lives or worse, quit their college education even before it begins. For any student who slogs day and night to secure admission into a prestigious college, ragging can be his or her worst nightmare come true. It would not be an exaggeration to say that, today, ragging has taken the shape of a serious human rights violation with even the most respected and disciplined educational institutes falling prey to it.