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.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Bhopal, May 26: On the initiative of the Madhya Pradesh Human Rights Commission (MPHRC), the Indore-based Devi Ahilyabai University's School of Legal Studies has imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 each on seven students for ragging and brutally beating up a junior student, Atrabhavan Singh.
Official sources said the MPHRC took cognizance of the matter and directed the university administration to take strict action against the accused students.
The university's disciplinary committee had found that the students guilty during investigation in a recent incident of ragging and imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 on them.
The university had also ordered that guilty students, who were put up in hostel, be expelled.
Besides, a warning was issued that strict punishment would be taken if anybody repeated such behaviour.
Directions had been issued to prevent guilty students from taking examinations if the fine was not deposited within prescribed time limit.
Statesman News Service
BANKURA, May 26: Mallabhum Institute of Technology, a private engineering college in Bishnupur which has been embroiled in a ragging controversy of late, suspended four third-year students on charges of flouting discipline.
A first-year student of the college recently alleged that he had been ragged by some senior students. Local police are investigating the case.
No third year student, however, has been punished in relation with the alleged incident of ragging. The suspended third-year students are Rahul Singh of electrical department, Prasenjit Mondal of information technology department, Kamalesh Chatterjee of electronics department and Abhijeet Chakraborty of electrical department. They have been suspended on charges of rioting with fellows students and juniors twice during the college sessions in April and May this year.
A notice was issued last evening stating that all of the suspended students would have to vacate the college hostel. They, however, would be allowed to appear for examinations. Rahul, however, would not be allowed to attend classes for the time being. Dr SK Roy, principal of Mallabhum Institute of Technology, told The Statesman: “The inquiry committee found them guilty of creating chaos in the college. So they have been suspended for a period of six months.” He, however, made it clear that the students were not involved in the alleged ragging of the first-year student, Soumya Roy. Soumya has been brought home by his father, Mr Shyamalendu Roy, and he is now at his New Barrackpore residence.
Soumya had reportedly sent an SOS to his father, stating that some of his seniors had been compelling him to inhale narcotics like marijuana and brown sugar for four consecutive days since 19 May. His father lodged an FIR with Bishnupur PS. The college also has set up a six-member fact-finding committee. Dr Roy said: “The committee will table a report and only after that can we ascertain whether the student had actually been ragged.”
Saturday, May 26, 2007
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
RECORD OF PROCEEDINGS
Petition(s) for Special Leave to Appeal (Civil) No(s).24295/2004
(From the judgement and order dated 24/06/2004 in WP No. 30845/2003 of the
HIGH COURT OF KERALA AT ERNAKULAM)
UNIVERSITY OF KERALA Petitioner(s)
COUNCIL,PRINCIPALS',COLLEGES,KERALA &ORS Respondent(s)
(With appln(s) for intervention and modification and directions and impleadment as
party respondent and with prayer for interim relief and office report)
WITH SLP(C) NO. 14356 of 2005 (With appln.(s) for exemption from filing O.T. and c/delay in filing counter affidavit and office report)
W.P.(CRL.) NO. 173 of 2006 (With appln.(s) for directions and exemption from filing O.T. and urging addl. ground and with office report)
SLP(C) NO. 24296-24299 of 2004 (With prayer for interim relief and office report)
Date: 16/05/2007 These Petitions were called on for hearing today.
HON'BLE Dr. JUSTICE ARIJIT PASAYAT
HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE S.H. KAPADIA
Mr. Gopal Subramaniam, A.S.G. (A.C.)
Mrs. Sushma Suri, Adv.
Mr. Abhishek Tewari, Adv.
For Petitioner(s) Mr. R. Sathish,Adv.
Dr. Sushil Balwada, Adv.
Mr. Satbir Tillania, Adv.
Mr. Anil Karnwal, Adv.
Mr. Prashant Kumar, Adv.
Ms. Pooja Dhar, Adv.
Ms. Ratna Kaul, Adv.
for M/s AP & J Chambers, Advs.
For Respondent(s) Mr. Ranjit Kumar, Sr.Adv.
Mr. E.M.S. Anam,Adv.
Mr. Fazlin Anam, Adv.
Mr. P.V. Dinesh, Adv.
Mrs. Sindhu T.P.,Adv.
Mr. P.V. Vinod, Adv.
Mr. Sandeep B.K., Adv
Mr. KH. Nobin Singh, Adv.
Mr. David Rao, Adv.
Mr. S. Biswajit Meitei, Adv.
Mr. Manoj Swarup, Adv.
Ms. Lalit Kohli, Adv.
for M/s. Manoj Swarup & Co., Advs.
Mr. T.V. George, Adv.
Mr. M.P. Vinod, Adv.
Mr. Ajay K. Jain, Adv.
Mr. Sjith P., Adv.
Mr. K.R. Sasiprabhu, Adv.
Mr. Ajit Kumar Sinha,Adv.
Mr. M.K. Michael, Adv.
Mr. M.K.D. Namboodiri, Adv.
Mr. V.G. Pragasam, Adv.
Mr. Shivaji M. Jadhav, Adv.
Mr. Radha Shyam Jena, Adv.
For Res.1-3 & 5 in WP 173/06: Mr. Soli J. Sorabjee, Sr.Adv.
Ms. Vibha Datta Makhija
Mr. Manish Kumar, Adv.
Mr. Ansar Ahmad Chaudhary, Adv.
UPON hearing counsel the Court made the following O R D E R
We have perused the Report of the Committee constituted pursuant to this Court's order to suggest remedial measures to tackle with the problem of ragging in educational institutions. An elaborate report has been submitted by the Committee headed by Dr.R.K. Raghavan.
According to the Committee, the following factors need to be focused to tackle with the problem:
- (a) Primary responsibility for curbing ragging rests with academic institutions themselves.
- (b) Ragging adversely impacts the standards of higher education.
- (c) Incentives should be available to institutions for curbing the menace and there should be disincentives for failure to do so.
- (d) Enrolment in academic pursuits or a campus life should not immunize any adult citizenfrom penal provisions of the laws of the land.
- (e) Ragging needs to be perceived as failure to inculcate human values from the schooling stage.
- (f) Behavioural patterns among students, particularly potential 'raggers', need to be identified.
- (g) Measures against ragging must deter its recurrence.
- (h) Concerted action is required at the level of the school, higher educational institution, district administration, university, State and Central Governments to make any curb effective.
- (i) Media and the Civil Society should be involved in this exercise.
- The punishment to be meted out has to be exemplary and justifiably harsh to act as a deterrent against recurrence of such incidents.
- Every single incident of ragging where the victim or his parent/guardian or the Head of institution is not satisfied with the institutional arrangement for action, a First Information Report must be filed without exception by the institutional authorities with the local police authorities. Any failure on the part of the institutional authority or negligence or deliberate delay in lodging the FIR with the local police shall be construed to be an act of culpable negligence on the part of the institutional authority. If any victim or his parent/guardian of ragging intends to file FIR directly with the police, that will not absolve the institutional authority from the requirement of filing the FIR.
- Courts should make an effort to ensure that cases involving ragging are taken up on a priority basis to send the correct message that ragging is not only to be discourages but also to be dealt with sternness.
- In addition, we direct that the possibility of introducing in the educational curriculum a subject relating to ragging shall be explored by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) and the respective State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT). This aspect can be included in the teaching of the subjects "Human Rights".
- In the prospectus to be issued for admission by educational institutions, it shall be clearly stipulated that in case the applicant for admission is found to have indulged in ragging in the past or if it is noticed later that he has indulged in ragging, admission may be refused or he shall be expelled from the educational institution.
- The Central Government and the State Governments shall launch a programme giving wide publicity to the menace of ragging and the consequences which follow in case any student is detected to have been involved in ragging.
- It shall be the collective responsibility of the authorities and functionaries of the concerned institution and their role shall also be open to scrutiny for the purpose of finding out whether they have taken effective steps for preventing ragging and in case of their failure, action can be taken; for example, denial of any grant-in-aid or assistance from the State Governments.
- Anti-ragging committees and squads shall be forthwith formed by the institutions and it shall be the job of the committee or the squad, as the case may be, to see that the Committee's recommendations, more particularly those noted above, are observed without exception and if it is noticed that there is any deviation, the same shall be forthwith brought to the notice of this Court.
- The Committee constituted pursuant to the order of this Court shall continue to monitor the functioning of the anti-ragging committees and the squads to be formed. They shall also monitor the implementation of the recommendations to which reference has been made above.
Post these matters in September, 2007 for further directions on the recommendations received from the Committee.
I.A.No.5/2007 in S.L.P.(C) No.24295/2004:
Response, if any, by the University shall be filed within four weeks. Rejoinder, if any, within four weeks thereafter.
Mr. Gopal Subramaniam, learned amicus curiae shall also indicate his views.
Writ Petition (Crl.) No.173/2006:
List this petition separately in September, 2007.
(N. Annapurna) (Madhu Saxena)
Court Master Court Master
Friday, May 25, 2007
Statesman News Service
BISHNUPUR, May 24: A first year engineering student with a private engineering college here has allegedly been forced to consume narcotics like marijuana, brown sugar and hashish over the past four days.
The father of the student rushed to Bishnupur from New Barrackpore today to rescue him. He has lodged a complaint with the Bishnupur PS and also sought intervention from the local SDO here.
Mr Shyamalendu Roy, a businessman in New Barrackpore, received a distress call by the classmate of his son last night stating that senior students had confined Soumya Roy and had been compelling him to consume narcotics.
“I was confused and immediately contacted my son on his cellphone. I could understand that he was in an intoxicated state,” he said. “I tried to contact the authorities but unfortunately there was no one present to attend my call either at the office or the hostel.”
Soumya is a first year student of electronics engineering with the privately run Mallabhum Institute of Technology here. Soumya said: “A few of my seniors forced me to consume the narcotics though I tried to resist them. I took the matter to the hostel authorities to no avail.”
“They would enter my room after study hours every evening and take me away to a senior student’s room,” Soumya said. “I would then be forced to consume contraband narcotics. This continued for four consecutive days.”
Mr Roy lodged a complaint with the Bishnupur PS today and also took the matter to the SDO, Bishnupur, Mr Ajay Kumar Ghosh. Mr Ghosh has issued a notice to the engineering college authority asking them to provide an explanation at the earliest. “We shall go by the strictures prescribed by the Supreme Court of India to help preventing ragging in the colleges and other educational institutions,” he said.
The college authority initially expressed surprise to the charges. Mr SK Roy, principal of the college, said: “The student and his guardian has moved to the police and the administration and they didn’t inform us. We have got no specific idea about the charges. The college is expecting fresh students and the student who has allegedly been ragged is here since one year and is about to be promoted to second year now. It is quite unusual that such students are still being ragged by their seniors in the college.”
“I am surprised that the college authority remained quite indifferent despite bringing the matter into their notice,” Mr Roy said.
The IC, Bishnupur, Mr Bamapada Mukherjee, said: “Besides the charges of ragging, we are worried that the students’ charges has hinted trafficking of drugs in Bishnupur. We are investigating the case.”
No one has been arrested.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Monday May 21 2007 04:09 IST
KOCHI: As the new academic year is all set to begin, colleges across the city will have to form a strict anti-ragging policy as the Supreme Court has come down heavily on ragging on campuses.
Acting on this, the UGC will soon issue directives to universities to make the colleges totally student-friendly and form guidelines regarding ragging.
In the last seven years, around 25 cases of suicide due to ragging were reported by Coalition to Uproot Ragging from Education (CURE). Their website says that 60 percent of the ragging cases are physical, of which around 20 percent are instances of sexual harassment. Sadly, most of these are seldom reported.
In response, the Supreme Court has declared ragging, including the conspiracy to rag, infliction of physical injury and aiding a party in the act as criminal offence.
If a victim or the guardian of the victim is unsatisfied with the action taken on their complaint, an FIR must be filed. Failing to do the same would indicate ignorance on the part of the institution. A school or college that neglects the direction can be de-recognised by the UGC/AICTE.
The Bench headed by Justice Arijit Pasayat had also instructed the education boards in the country to include ragging and its evils as part of the curriculum to teach students the consequences of such physical and mental abuse in places of education.
“The ban on ragging was implemented in Kerala years ago after the initial directive of the court. With the induction of girl students in the college last year, the anti-ragging cell has been working twice as hard. All that is allowed is monitored interaction between senior students and freshers,” says Robert Stanley, principal of St Albert’s College.
Instances of harassment of first year students have declined over the years in the state with ragging controversies being reported sporadically.
“However,” says KSU state president Hibi Eden, “there is a tendency to book people on ragging charges to settle political and party-based vendettas. This should be done away with, especially now that it is a criminally-chargeable offence.”
In order to stop such occurrences, the case should first be presented before a neutral commission that is free of political lenience, he says.
Professional colleges in Kerala have taken measures to control ragging, especially after the SME School of Medical Education episode.
“Anti-ragging squads have been deployed in all the departments of the university,” says P K Abdul Azis, Vice-Chancellor of Cochin University.
Cases of harassment in colleges in other states have taken appalling dimensions. Even when Kerala has been prompt in implementing action against such troublemakers, the truth remains that another version of the SME case may be lying dormant, and even a law charging those with criminal intentions may not be enough to deter the worst of their kind.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
NEW DELHI, India (UCAN) – Church educators in India have welcomed a Supreme Court ruling on hazing.
The May 16 ruling came after the country's apex court heard recommendations of a government committee that studied hazing in Indian institutions of higher learning. The court wants the Indian Penal Code amended to make hazing punishable under the law.
The court ruling "will benefit many students," especially freshmen who suffer from seniors' "ragging sessions," said Father K.J. Antony, secretary of the education commission of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India. Hazing, commonly called "ragging" in India, sometimes leads to tension and violence, the Salesian priest told UCA News on May 21.
Mani Jacob, who heads the ecumenical All India Association for Christian Higher Education, noted that the practice has caused deaths in several colleges and hostels. "Ragging," he told UCA News, has "become a law-and-order problem" that many Indian institutions have trouble tackling.
Welcoming the ruling "both as an educationist and as a parent," Jacob said that even student political organizations resort to hazing to induct freshmen into their associations.
Jacob wants "a new kind of socialization" to help freshmen interact with seniors. He wants school administrations to organize sports and cultural programs to help students in different classes mingle. Authorities should also publicize the court ruling in their institutions, he added.
Now hazing "could be controlled," he remarked, adding that Christian institutions would "be happy to follow" the Supreme Court directive.
The court wants a "comprehensive definition" for hazing to include abetment to hazing, criminal conspiracy, causing injury, wrongful confinement, use of force and assault. It also favors "exemplary (and) justifiably harsh" punishment.
The court also wants hazing cases tried on a fast-track basis to avoid delays. For this, it called for an amendment to the Criminal Procedure Code.
The Coalition to Uproot Ragging from Education, a volunteer organization, recorded 61 cases in colleges and three more reported in Indian media during 2005-2006. Of the 51 colleges whose students were involved, 19 are architecture colleges, 18 engineering institutions, nine medical schools and five polytechnic colleges.
The court took a cue from the government committee's call for tough measures to address the problem. It wants the onus of proving innocence to be on the accused. The court also wants local police to register official complaints from victims or from parents dissatisfied with institutional action on hazing cases.
The stipulation on the onus, Father Antony says, will make seniors "more careful to avoid ragging juniors." The priest also welcomed the court asking educational institutions to file criminal cases against those responsible for hazing, even if the victims or their relatives refuse to complain.
There is the possibility of juniors taking advantage of the court ruling, Father Antony cautioned, referring to the possibility of false accusations against seniors, who would then have to prove their innocence. But the new law will benefit many, he added.
THE Supreme Court’s directive to educational institutions to eliminate the archaic practice of ragging has once again brought this menace into sharp focus. The court does not want any mercy to be shown to those indulging in this heinous activity. On the other hand, it wants the educational institution concerned to take the responsibility of filing an FIR if the parents or guardians of a victim are not satisfied with the punishment given by the institution or if the sufferer is unable to file an FIR on his own. No doubt, preventing ragging is the collective responsibility of the authorities at all levels.
What the court has observed is based on the R.K. Raghavan Committee’s recommendations. The panel, headed by a former CBI Director, was appointed by the Centre under instructions from the apex court, which has approved of much of what the committee has suggested for banishing this ugly practice. Those among the student community who favour the continuance of ragging describe it as mere “fun”, which is believed to help interaction among the seniors and juniors. They must be bluntly told that any activity that can destroy a student’s career and even threaten his life and liberty cannot be accepted as “fun”. Ragging was reportedly the cause of at least 25 suicide cases during the past seven years. The number of those emotionally traumatised by the ragging can never be quantified.
The apex court has directed the educational institutions to appoint an anti-ragging committee or squad to keep an eye on the goings-on in the hostels so that no junior student is harassed by his seniors on any pretext. This can help only if the members of the panel include people who are not employees of the institution. According to a survey by the Coalition to Uproot Ragging from Education (CURE), the authorities of educational institutions “prefer to deny ragging incident for face-saving at the cost of the freshers’ trauma”. For them the image of their institution is more important than the life or career of a student. This needs to be addressed to make the anti-ragging prescription effective.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
It's easier said than done - the homily couldn't be more true when it comes to new laws.
And when the Supreme Court defined ragging as a crime on Wednesday, it added to the burden of pending litigation.
Legal experts are expecting a rush of FIRs and complaints in the new admission season.
''There is just too much pressure for instance, the changes in the motor vehicles act, have justincreased litigation for us. When domestic violence law came, again, there was a lot of pressure, many many courts needed which aren't there,'' said Naveen Matta, Delhi lawyer
But now, for the first time in India's legal history, an attempt is being made to understand the burden of each new law.
A three-member panel will assess the judicial impact of such legislation and work out just what it will take to implement it.
They will work out the cost and the number of courts and workforce needed to hear the new cases.
''They amended just Section 138 of the Negotiable Act in 2002 that deals with bouncing cheques. That single change led to 40 lakh new cases and nobody could cope. Courts were reduced to money recovering agents,'' said Prof Madhav Menon, Council member.
The council plans to create a system that will absorb the shock of extra work that new laws create, and hopefully, reduce the long list of pending cases in the Indian courts.
At the moment, the only way courts prepare for a new law is to put a copy of it in the court library. Lawyers say that they are not expecting any overnight answers from the council but at least, a beginning has been made.
Press Trust of India
With the Supreme Court asking educational institutions to register FIRs against students indulging in ragging, the University Grants Commission (UGC) is set to issue strict instructions to all universities to implement the court's order.
''We will issue instructions to the universities soon, asking them to strictly implement the direction of the Supreme Court in letter and spirit,'' said UGC Secretary TR Kem.
''As soon as we get a copy of the court's order, we will issue the instructions to the universities within two to three days.''
There are about 275 universities under the UGC.
The IITs, meanwhile, are set to approach the Union Human Resource Development Ministry to seek a uniform policy for them to implement the order.
''We will move the ministry seeking a uniform mechanism for all IITs to implement the ruling,'' IIT-Delhi Registrar Rajendra Singh said.
He said the IIT here sets up an anti-ragging committee every year and a similar panel will be formed this year too.
Has the SC gone overboard in calling ragging a crime and asking for ‘exemplary and justifiably harsh’ action against those found guilty of indulging in it? The answer is an emphatic no. Ask the parents of Amit Gangwar, a first year student at BR Ambedkar National Institute of Technology, Jalandhar, who unable to bear the torment any more, threw himself in front of a train in 2005 or of Parmeshwar, a student at Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi, who ended his life for the same reason in 2003.
Ask Sujit Saraf, who studied at the prestigious IIT Delhi from 1987 to 1992 and has had the courage to write about his experiences during the first few days there in Tehelka. No punishment can ever be severe enough as far as they are concerned.
It’s not only those who have lost their children so wantonly who will applaud the apex court. So will thousands of parents who send their children to colleges, including some of the most sought-after professional colleges in the country, and are then compelled to wait out an agonizing two months, fearing the worst.
To them the SC’s interim directions directing educational institutions to register criminal cases against those indulging in ragging activities are a long overdue and much needed step to end the menace of ragging on our campuses.
Inevitably the apex court’s directions have set off a fierce debate. Those who regard raging as harmless fun, as high jinks, a rite of passage to membership of a group argue that the ruling is excessively harsh. Apart from mandatory filing of an FIR, the court has shifted the onus of proof to the accused rather than the victim. It has also warned of more stringent measures in September when it gives its final directions, presumably based on the experience of working with these interim directions.
Diehard supporters of ragging are not the only ones unhappy with the SC’s directions. Heads of some educational institutions have criticised it on the grounds that not all instances of ragging are violent or abusive and hence lodging an FIR might be going too far. Agreed, not all cases of ragging are perverted or dangerous but it is not so difficult to distinguish between those that are plain fun and those that are not.
US-based website, StopHazing.Org, a websites against ragging (known as hazing) in the US, where it is a problem especially in the Greek-letter fraternity and sorority groups on campuses, has a very simple test to determine where to draw the line between plain fun and hazing.
It lists a few questions: Will active/current members of the group refuse to participate with the new members and do exactly what they’re being asked to do? Does the activity risk emotional or physical abuse?
Is there risk of injury or a question of safety? Do you have any reservation describing the activity to your parents, to a professor or University official? Would you object to the activity being photographed for the school newspaper or filmed by the local TV news crew? If the answer to any of these is yes, the answer is unambiguous. It is hazing.
We could adopt a similar test here as well. To be sure there will be stray cases of mis-carriage of justice just as with any other law. But since earlier efforts at milder punishment and leaving it to college authorities have not delivered, it is time to try more stringent measures. It’s much the same realisation that has led as many as 44 states in the US to pass laws against hazing, with penalties ranging from fines to imprisonment.
Will stiff punishment end ragging? No. Just as anti-dowry laws have not ended dowry deaths, law alone can never provide a complete answer. Especially since few victims ever speak out against their tormentors for fear of subsequent ostracism. But it will deter potential offenders. And if it is backed by determined efforts to educate and train students and teachers, it could save many young precious lives.
In the US, MASH, Mothers Against School Hazing, has been a powerful force in educating youngsters and spreading awareness about the tragic consequences that could result when what starts as fun and games becomes a matter of life and death. It’s time we formed a similar body in India.
Saturday, May 19, 2007
It has a large higher education sector — the third largest in the world in student numbers, after China and the United States. Barring a few exceptions, many of our colleges and universities have grown into massive, under-funded and ungovernable institutions. On one hand at many of them, politics has intruded into campus life, influencing academic appointments and decisions across levels. The cause for concern is that campus violence in the country is assuming dangerous proportions. At times it makes one ponder if our colleges and universities are turning out to be the best refuge of criminal elements?
Some recent incidents of violence on our campuses portrayed below are not only disturbing but clearly depict symptoms of a deeper malaise.
This 27 April, students protesting the killing of a final year petroleum engineering student went on a rampage at the Aligarh Muslim University. Paramilitary forces had to be deployed on the campus to bring about normalcy.
An undergraduate engineering student in Hyderabad was injured on 22 April this year, when one of his seniors allegedly fired on him inside the college premises. According to eyewitnesses, as students were collecting hall tickets for the examinations, the senior suddenly brandished his revolver and fired six to seven rounds. This shows how the gun culture has permeated into student life.
A minor altercation between some students of Arts and Social Science faculties during a cultural programme on the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) campus last December, culminated in ransacking of public property and destruction of motor vehicles.
Violence on the Bengal Engineering and Science University campus in Kolkata last August claimed the life of a third-year student. What began as a minor misunderstanding amongst two rival students' union led to the deceased falling off the second floor of the hostel.
Denial of readmission to some students at the Jamia Milia Islamia whom the varsity officials had identified as 'known trouble makers' and rusticated by the previous Vice-Chancellor ended with several students unleashing violence destroying property and vehicles last June.
Last February, Cochin University of Science and Technology, Kochi witnessed violent clashes. A combination of factors including differences among employee and student organisations besides brutality unleashed by groups from outside the campus had shattered the peaceful atmosphere.
The menace of ragging is another important issue that seems to end in violence on the campuses. It is believed that as early as 7th century A.D, in Greece, new entrants to the sport community were subjected to all kinds of humiliations and teasing to inculcate a team spirit in them. With several modifications, such teasing became nasty with the first ragging related death reported in 1873 when a freshman from Cornell University fell into a gorge as a consequence of ragging.
Even though the forms of ragging may vary, generally it tends to create an environment of persistent fear. It is not uncommon for a fresher to be forced into performing petty work for seniors, like doing their academic assignments, cleaning their rooms, fetching them food or attend to some daily necessities. Ragging, instead of serving as an interactive session between the seniors' and the juniors', at times, reaches monstrous proportions.
According to a recent report "Ragging in India", compiled by Coalition to Uproot Ragging from Education (CURE), ragging is not 'harmless fun' as perceived by many people. That close to 25 cases of suicide have been reported due to ragging in the last seven years depicts the gravity of the situation. Severe ragging is widespread in colleges where students stay in hostels, more so in professional institutions like engineering and medical colleges where on account of ragging; a fresher is totally at the mercy of seniors with no support from family and friends.
A Supreme Court judgment in 2001 banning ragging defined it as any disorderly conduct whether by words spoken or written or by an act which the effect of teasing, treating or handling with rudeness any other student. This includes indulging in rowdy or in-disciplined activities which causes or is likely to cause annoyance, hardship or psychological harm or to raise fear or apprehension thereof in a fresher or a junior student or asking the students to do any act or perform something which such student will not do in the ordinary course and which has the effect of causing or generating a sense of shame or embarrassment so as to adversely affect the physique or psyche of a fresher or a junior student.
Following the ban, it is possible that many educational institutions across the country may play down incidents of ragging to save themselves from embarrassment besides prevent the institution's reputation from getting tarnished.
Another CURE study has revealed that between January 2005 and December 2006, as many as 64 cases of ragging were reported by leading newspapers and news channels. 61 reported cases were from colleges and three from schools. Of the 51 colleges identified where ragging took place, 18 were engineering institutions, 9 medical colleges, 5 polytechnics and 19 from architecture colleges. Notably, the kind of ragging that students were subjected to was ascertained only in 41 cases. If 11 deaths took place due to ragging, another 10 attempted suicide and 23 were injured.
A recent survey by Lucknow University's Social Work department concluded that over 80 per cent students were ragged in hostels and 70 per cent found the varsity unsafe due to ragging and abusive behaviour of the seniors. Around 93 per cent students felt that during initial period of an academic session, when ragging is normally reported, special guidelines for striking a rapport between the seniors and the juniors would be of help.
Under directions from the Supreme Court, the anti-Ragging Committee constituted by the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development headed by former CBI director RK Raghavan is to submit its report to the apex court this 15 May.
The HRD Ministry has also suggested that different universities, colleges and educational institutions form anti-ragging committees comprising of representatives from the student community, guardians, parents and teachers.
It needs to be realised that recurring incidents of violence on centres of learning not only affects the academic calendar but can create avoidable fear psychosis amongst students. This can also have long term repercussions. Steps in the right earnest to uproot violence in college campuses merit consideration.
Calcutta/Suri, April 18: The six students accused of ragging in a Suri polytechnic will be suspended.
Ramakrishna Shilpa Vidyapith, which had earlier refused to act before its internal probe team filed a report, was asked to get cracking by the government yesterday.
The day before, the Supreme Court had put the onus of action against ragging culprits on the colleges. Otherwise, it said, their funds tap could be turned off.
Sarojit Biswas, a first-year civil engineering student, had climbed down a drainpipe and fled hostel last Friday to escape the torture of his seniors.
The decision to suspend the six, named in an FIR filed by Sarojit’s brother, was taken after technical education director Parijat De and technical education department secretary S.C. Tewari met the officer-in-charge of the college this morning.
“We have asked Mohammed Ali Haider (the officer in charge) to collect a copy of the FIR from police and act accordingly. Those named in the FIR will be suspended for a year,” De said.
“They would be expelled if criminal charges are framed against them.”
The seniors had allegedly forced Sarojit to inhale smoke, scalded him with cigarette butts and banged his head against a wall.
Yesterday, De asked the college to lodge an FIR against the six, as the Supreme Court had wanted institutions to do. But it did not because Sarojit’s family had already lodged one.
“We are adhering to the Supreme Court order by acting against the boys on the basis of the FIR,” De said today.
Sarojit quit college because of the torture. His cousin, an electrical student at the same college, quit out of fear.
“We are happy. The culprits should get exemplary punishment,” Sarojit’s brother Hiranmoy said from their home in North 24-Parganas.
Raghavan Committee survey report
NEW DELHI: More than half the college students consider the first few days on the campus as a fresher a positive experience, with many of them calling it an opportunity to explore the unknown, making new friends, an experience far different from the school days in terms of excitement, change and similar other feelings.
One in every five respondents of a survey carried out by the Raghavan Committee during the course of preparing its recommendations to check the menace of ragging in educational institutions indicated a mixed feeling, neither too effusive in terms of the significance attached to college life, nor any negative emotion.
However, as many as 28 per cent of the 10,470 responses were outright negative with experiences ranging from loneliness, dullness and fear of the unknown to being overawed and living in anxiety about being ragged and teased by seniors.
While more than half the responses were positive in terms of dealing with the question of early life at college, questions about early days in hostel brought out only 16 per cent positive responses.
A question on expectations from the new institution that they join brought forth an expected response from the freshers with as many as 63 per cent desiring a good academic environment, good infrastructure and good placement opportunities. The second highest number of respondents (15 per cent) worried about discipline and care in the new environment, and 11 per cent voted for freedom.
As many as 44 per cent of the respondents said they expect their seniors to guide and help them in academic matters, the second largest group of respondents (37 per cent) looked forward to friendship and affection from seniors, while 10 per cent wanted to escape ragging and another 3 per cent did not want anything from their seniors.
Asked how they make new friends, the strategy was helping the strangers (33 per cent) and through an affable smiling approach (47 per cent). There were only a few extreme instances of making friends through aggressive behaviour - 4 per cent said they did so by teasing and 1 per cent through scaring off the strangers. These extreme cases, according to the Raghavan Committee, are the potential "raggers".
In reactions to bullying, the largest number (46 per cent) of respondents said they felt angry, and 28 per cent said they felt insulted when bullied.
Strangely, as many as 17 per cent of students said they felt important even though subjected to ragging, while nearly half the respondents (48 per cent) said they enjoyed the experience of being bullied, and 22 per cent said they would stay away from the institution if bullied. Six per cent were even willing to leave studies if subjected to being bullied or teased.
The questionnaire asked whether the respondents would be happy to be friends with someone who hurt them. Even though 55 per cent gave an emphatic no to this suggestion, two in every five respondents (40 per cent) would not mind mending relationships even if they were hurt.
An overwhelming 72 per cent of the respondents said they want well-described procedures and guidelines to regulate the relationship between junior and seniors.
A form of torture, which can cause severe emotional and physical damage, ragging enjoys the surprising status of a rite of passage. This dubious initiation ritual continues to be practised despite the ban slapped on it in 2001. While six States have enacted anti-ragging laws, there have been very few cases registered under them. The Supreme Court's order, which recognises that mere prohibition is not enough, places severe curbs on ragging by adopting a totally new approach. Preventing or taking action against the practice will now be the collective responsibility of the educational institution and no longer the lonely burden of the victim and his family. Institutions have been directed to file cases with the police whenever ragging incidents come to light; failure or delay on the part of the authorities to do so "would make them liable for culpable negligence." Concerned about maintaining their reputations, educational institutions often prefer to sweep ragging incidents under the carpet. The broad thrust of the court order is to make such institutions and those who manage them fully accountable for any such incidents.
The slew of directions issued by the Supreme Court is based substantially on the recommendations of the committee headed by R.K. Raghavan, former Director of the CBI. Appointed under the mandate of the court, the committee has devised a comprehensive methodology to tackle the ragging menace — one that involves educational institutions, the media, civil society, and government authorities at different levels. At the heart of this approach is the setting up of anti-ragging squads, anti-ragging committees, mentoring cells, and monitoring cells at the levels of institutions, the district, the State and the Centre. As the Raghavan committee has rightly observed, "without the active involvement of the multitude of bodies and authorities, a continuous vigil cannot be maintained." Some of the committee's far-reaching recommendations — to make ragging a specific offence under the Indian Penal Code and to amend the Indian Evidence Act to shift the burden of proof from victim to perpetrator — will require the approval of Parliament. Those who defend ragging as a fun activity that promotes a feeling of togetherness should take note of the alarming statistics about the initiation ritual. According to the Coalition to Uproot Ragging from Education, of the 61 reported cases of ragging in colleges since 2005, 11 led to the death of the victim, ten provoked suicide attempts, 12 caused mental problems, and five ended with the victim leaving the institution. Such figures roundly disprove the idea that ragging is just a harmless icebreaker between seniors and freshers.
19 May, 2007 l 0027 hrs IST
When fun and games cross the threshold of decency - when friendly persuasion turns to violent force - ragging causes freshers extreme humiliation and suffering, both mental and physical. Traumatised and scarred, some victims of ragging have ended their lives. Others simply walk away to seek alternative course options in other, safer, universities even if it means giving up a hard-earned seat in a prestigious institution. That ragging helps freshers familiarise themselves with their seniors is a specious argument.
Far from making newcomers feel comfortable, ragging simply emboldens seniors to indulge in heightened forms of sadism. The Supreme Court's warning on ragging to senior students and institutions and its recommendation to mete harsh and exemplary punishment to detractors has come not a day too soon. In a climate of fear where both student-victims and heads of institutions hesitate to take action against offenders - anticipating political backlash - the apex court has come forward to rein in this obnoxious practice.
The tradition of ragging could be traced to the army, where relationships are grounded in hierarchy and so seniors must be obeyed, at all cost. An institution of learning, on the other hand, is supposed to be founded on openness. There is no place here for the kind of coercion characteristic of ragging. Worse, ragging by seniors is now only a euphemism for abuse based on caste, race, ethnicity, religion, class and political leanings. Ragging today is an expression of all kinds of prejudice.
The SC's recommendation that the institution of learning - where offensive ragging has taken place - must file an FIR in the event of a complaint, is an important step in recognising the problem and opening a way to resolve it.
Accountability of the perpetrator and the institution to maintain discipline and order can only be possible if reporting and filing of complaints is made mandatory. Expulsion of student offenders and economic sanctions against institutions that refuse to take action - as per the SC's injunctions - should go a long way in curbing the heinous practice of indecent ragging.
19 May, 2007 l 0025 hrs ISTlYamini Lohia
The Supreme Court's new, harsher directives on dealing with ragging may be seen as a welcome move by some, but in reality, the measures are far too draconian. Most measures are aimed at making educational institutions directly responsible for taking action against the accused.
One of them is to make it mandatory for an institution to file an FIR whenever they are informed of an incident of ragging. The justification provided for such a measure is that it would prevent universities and colleges from sweeping particularly awful incidents of ragging under the carpet, in order to protect their reputations. However, this is incredibly dangerous, as the law can be misused.
It is not too difficult to imagine an altercation between a fresher and a senior student over some matter or other. Under the new laws, if the fresher takes offence he can report the senior student for ragging, and the burden of proof would then be on the accused. Personal vendettas could now be played out in court. And false accusation could lead to a permanent loss of reputation.
Far more dangerous, it could destroy the social fabric of institutions. A recent example is the Duke University lacrosse team case in the United States. The three lacrosse team students who were accused of sexual assault and rape were ultimately proved innocent, but the case has ripped the university apart, and created fault lines between male and female students.
Ragging has been a proud tradition in our colleges. It helps students get over the awkwardness of starting a new chapter in their lives, helps them bond, either with their seniors or in shared misery with their classmates.
Students are forced to come out of their comfort zones, to do things that might embarrass them, but that ultimately make them stronger. New students look forward to ritualistic hazing — for them, it is an indispensable part of college life.
It is a shame that the apex court has turned ragging into a dirty word.
Web posted at: 5/19/2007 1:21:26
Source ::: IANS
Bangalore • Universities in Karnataka are coming up with some innovative solutions to the problem of ragging in the wake of a recent crackdown by the Supreme Court.
Bangalore University, for example, plans to include moral studies in its courses – hoping these lessons will not only deter bullies but also help students keep off smoking and drinking.
The Visveswaraya Technological University (VTU), which administers all 120 engineering colleges in the state, has responded rather more robustly - it has drafted its younger faculty members to travel in college buses in order to protect freshmen and women from bullies.
Their moves follow the apex court’s directive Wednesday for educational institutions across the country to take a slew of stringent anti-ragging measures, including filing police cases against bullies.
Dr K Balaveera Reddy, Vice-Chancellor of VTU said junior faculty members, who are usually only a few years older than their students, would be randomly placed in college buses to stop the seniors from harassing juniors.
The idea is to instill fear among the bullies and make it clear to them that VTU will not tolerate ragging – either on campus or in college buses, he said.
Friday, May 18, 2007
Indu Anto’s father is now in Kerala, nursing his ailing wife. She never recovered, and the case continues 8 years later
Priyanka Bhosale & Irada P P
Mumbai, May 17: Eight years after his daughter jumped from the terrace of her two-storey college hostel building, C L Anto (54) is a tired man. But never too tired to talk about his daughter, or about ragging, anti-ragging measures and police action against college seniors who may enjoy a little fun at the expense of a fresher’s humiliation.
For, Anto believes strongly that his daughter Indu, then 16, was led to suicide on August 4, 1998, following some vicious ragging sessions. Welcoming Wednesday’s Supreme Court order making First Information reports mandatory in all ragging complaints, Anto says: “The Bombay Ragging Act of 1999, which came into effect after my daughter died, should be implemented with retrospective effect. And institutions should be held solely responsible for all ragging incidents.”
Talking to Newsline from Chalakkudy, a town in Thrissur, Kerala, Anto says he is in Mumbai whenever the case warrants. A little over five years ago, the Bombay High Court directed the Mumbai Police to reinvestigate after Anto sought a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry. “The magistrate hearing the case in the Girgaum court has been transferred to the Bandra court,” he explains. “Since he has extensively heard the matter, we are waiting for the case to be transferred.”
Currently nursing his sick wife, who he says never really recovered from the shock of Indu’s death, Anto says he gets emotional only whenever he talks about Indu in court. Accused in the case are two girls who were senior to Indu in college, whose names she had penned in her diary as “raggers”. “Apart from them, I had filed cases against the warden, the then college principal, vice-principal and present principal.” He even filed cases against a slew of police officers, accusing them of destroying evidence.
Stressing the need for better monitoring mechanisms on campuses, Anto says that the order against ragging is at least partly a result of his sustained efforts, but the battle is far from over. “I am not a beneficiary of this case,” he stresses. “I am just doing this for other parents and students.”
Kanpur, May 17: In a bid to save new entrants from ragging, the Indian Institute of Technology - Kanpur has launched a students' helpline.
Assistant registrar Satyamurthi told media that the initiative would arrest the ragging of new comers by their seniors to a large extent. "The helpline team constitutes 11 senior professors of the institute," he said.
Their mobile helpline numbers would be made available to all the new students at the time of admission, he said. "The students can lodge a ragging complaint over the mobile phone and all the team members will immediately rush to the spot," he said.
According to Satyamurthi, the incidents of ragging normally take place at the students' hostels during the night. "The hostel wardens will also stay on high alert and would conduct raids," he said, adding stern action would be taken against any senior student found ragging juniors.
The institute has also recently launched a counselling service in which teachers and senior students are included.
"Any student can approach the counsellors on financial or family problem and all the possible help will be extended to him," he said.
The R.K. Raghavan committee recommends a new section on ragging in the IPC, the burden of proof on the accused, and that education institutions help the victims file FIRs.
Students of Delhi University during a demonstration.
THE SUPREME Court's directive to governments and educational institutions to come down heavily on ragging has set the stage for a fresh debate on how to curb the menace. The Court's directives come in the wake of a detailed report submitted by the R.K. Raghavan committee, which was asked to study the problem and make recommendations to redress the situation. What are the salient features of this committee's report and the focus of its recommendations?
"The committee recommends that rather than subjecting each incident of ragging to a different penal treatment under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, a new section should be added to the IPC, making ragging a punishable offence on the analogy of Section 498A, dealing with cruelty towards women [related to dowry deaths]. We have already explained that ragging is an offence with a multiplicity of ingredients, each of which constitutes an offence punishable under the existing provisions of the Indian Penal Code. We further recommend that the Indian Evidence Act should also be suitably amended on the analogy of Section 113A of that Act, to shift the burden of proof on those accused of ragging.
"We recommend that a comprehensive definition should be included by way of explanation in the proposed new section of ragging in the IPC, and all the punishable ingredients namely, abetment to ragging, public nuisance created during ragging, violation of decency and morals through ragging, injury to body, causing hurt or grievous hurt, wrongful restraint, wrongful confinement, use of criminal force, assault as well as sexual offences or even unnatural offences, extortion, criminal trespass, offences against property, criminal intimidation and attempts to commit any or all of the above mentioned offences against the victim should be incorporated thereto, prescribing appropriate punishments in respect of one or a group of offences."
Another significant recommendation relates to speedy trial. The committee wants the Criminal Procedure Code to be amended to ensure that cases involving ragging are tried on a fast-track basis, keeping in mind the academic priorities of students who may be required to depose before the courts or assist the prosecution.
The basis of the committee's work, direction, and recommendations stem from the following perceptions:
Primary responsibility for curbing ragging rests with academic institutions themselves;
Incentives should be available to institutions for curbing the menace; there should also be disincentives for failure to do so;
Enrolment in academic pursuits or a campus life should not immunise any adult citizen from penal provisions of the laws of the land;
Ragging needs to be perceived as a failure to inculcate human values from the schooling stage;
Behavioural patterns among students, particularly potential "raggers," need to be identified; Measures against ragging must deter its recurrence;
Concerted action is required at the level of the school, higher education institution, district administration, university, State and Central governments, to make any curb effective;
Media and civil society should be involved at all stages.
The other members of the committee were: S.G. Dhande, A.K. Agarwal, S. Sathikh, Chandra Krishnamurthy, Rajendra Prasad, and Sunil Kumar, Member-Convener.
In a Special Leave Petition last year, University of Kerala Vs Council of Principals of Colleges, the Supreme Court directed that a committee headed by the former CBI Director, R.K. Raghavan, be set up to suggest means to prevent ragging in educational institutions. Its terms of reference were to study the various aspects of ragging; suggest means and methods of prevention; suggest possible action that could be taken against persons indulging in the practice; and to suggest possible action that can be taken against college or university authorities in the event of ragging.
The committee made it clear the problem has several aspects — psychological, social, political, economic, cultural, and academic. Of late, sexual dimensions have also crept in. It said: "In none of the interactions did we come across any instance of the educational institutions approaching the police authorities in reporting even the extreme cases of ragging. Usually, the complaints with the police are lodged by the parentsof the victims. Most of the parents have reported that the university/college support for following up on the case with the law and order machinery has been lukewarm — indeed, in some cases, the institutions have actively dissuaded persistent parents. The committee is concerned with the evasive attitude of institutions and it is therefore necessary that the institutional authorities are made accountable in a variety of ways." It therefore wanted the educational institutions to assist the victims to lodge an FIR with the police on any incident of ragging.
To illustrate how timely complaints can prove effective, the committee cites the Kerala case in point — of a girl student of the Kottayam Medical College. Her complaint against senior men students resorting to sexual assault while ragging led to their arrests and prosecution as well as action against the college authorities.
The committee notes: "Almost all the stake-holders have failed to act in some way or the other in curbing the menace of ragging in every State. The State Governments have not monitored if the ragging in their State has been curbed or not. The authorities of the institution have not played a pro-active role, which was very necessary in terms of the guidelines of the apex court, where primary responsibility was cast on the institutional authorities. On the contrary, it was told to the committee that the authorities dissuaded the victims of ragging from making any complaint."
The committee's recommendations relate to actions to be taken at the level of schools, higher educational institutions, district administration, universities, State and Central authorities. Not only that, it wants civil society and the media to be involved at each level to tackle the problem of ragging.
At the school level, it calls for introduction of human rights education and counselling for students. The School Leaving Certificate should mention the character of the student in terms of behavioural pattern.
In college, there must be an annual undertaking to be signed by students and parents, jointly, stating that they have read the relevant instructions on ragging and punishment, and the ward, if found guilty, will be proceeded against. The committee recommends a carrot and stick policy towards educational institutions in relation to curbing ragging, and this should extend to funding as well as grading.
There should be institutional level, district level, and State-level committees to monitor ragging and curb it. At the national level, the University Grants Commission must coordinate and monitor the anti-ragging movement. The governments and the media should sensitise the people, including students, and create awareness about the problem. A toll-free helpline could be created for easy access to students in distress.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Seek undertaking from students, Bench asks educational institutions
# Violators will face expulsion
# Institutions not complying with directives will also face action
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked courts to dispose of ragging cases expeditiously so that the action would prove a deterrent and avoid inconvenience to victims.
A Bench consisting of Justices Arijit Pasayat and S.H. Kapadia also asked the National Council of Educational Research and Training and the State bodies to explore the possibility of introducing in the curriculum a separate chapter on ragging under "human rights" to create awareness among the students of the evil effects of the practice.
The court urged the educational institutions to include in their prospectus a column seeking an undertaking from students that he/she was not involved in any ragging activity in the past and that he/she would not indulge in it in future. If the undertaking was violated, the students would be liable to be expelled.
The court wanted the Central and State Governments to launch programmes, giving wide publicity among students, for dissuading them from indulging in ragging.
Non-compliance with the directives would be considered lowering academic standards by the errant institution. It would be open to the regulatory bodies or State Governments to deny grants to the institution for any failure to implement the directives. Financial awards or incentives could be considered for colleges or universities which took stringent action against the errant students.
The Bench, which accepted the bulk of the R.K. Raghavan Committee recommendations, said the other suggestions would be considered later.
It asked the panel to monitor the implementation of its recommendations and file a status report in September.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
New Delhi: Ragging is banned in schools and colleges. But the horrible practice continues to exist across the college campuses. “We were asked to strip, hold the genitals of other male students enact a rape scene,” says student (name withheld) of the Delhi University.
Victims, who tell they either had to quit or suffer quietly for there was nobody to take an action, share the ghastly experiences of harassments and sexual assault in the name of ‘ragging’. “I joined Kumaon engineering college in 2002. Violence, humiliation and filthy language were very much a part of ‘ragging’ right from day one,” says Rohit Kaler, a victim.
He adds, “At midnight seniors entered the hostel and asked two of my friends to strip and rub Vaseline on each others body. They asked us to take our genital imprints and carry those as identity proof with the genital measurements written on it.”
Rohit left the college in 50 days. This was five-years back, but things aren't any better even today. Now in a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court has prescribed severe penalties for even mild forms of ragging.
However, the practice is still rampant says CURE (Coalition to Uproot Ragging from Education)—a website that wages war against ragging on the net.
The website states:
Over 60% of ragging cases reported are physical
* 20% cases are that of sexual harassment.
In (2005-07) 64 ragging cases were reported—from 61 colleges and 3 from schools . 62 per cent of the cases involved physical assault. In 13 per cent of the cases, sexual harassment was coupled with physical assault. 20 per cent of the cases were of sexual abuse while 5 per cent complained of verbal abuse.
After 11 deaths, 10 suicide attempts and 23 injuries all in just the last two years—the Supreme Court ruling seems to be just paperwork. The order says that the prospectus of colleges should clearly mention the punishments for ragging.
And an institution that fails to curb ragging can be de-recognized by the UGC/AICTE. But none of this has been implemented so far.
“It is important to realise that the ‘ragger’ is also a victim of ragging: not only was he ragged in his first year, he was later co-opted in a system of abuse and exploitation—one that legitimizes violence and oppression, drug abuse and alcoholism, all as 'student life',” says Shivam Vij, Stopragging.com.
When the institutions fail, cyberspace comes of great help. The independent groups have worked closely with the Raghavan committee, appointed by the HRD ministry to recommend ways to curb ragging in schools and colleges—all in the hope that what happened to Rohit will not happen to anyone again.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007 (New Delhi)
The Supreme Court has come down heavily on ragging, telling institutions that any failure or negligence in lodging FIRs will be construed as negligence on the part of the institutions.
The court has ordered all institutions to implement several of the recommendations made by a government-appointed committee, the Raghavan Committee.
The court said that ragging must be deterred by exemplary and harsh punishment.
In every instance where a victim or his guardian is not satisfied with the action taken against ragging, an FIR must be filed by the institution.
The move comes after a committee appointed by the Supreme Court and headed by former CBI Director R K Raghavan recommended a comprehensive law to check ragging, asking for educational institutions to be made accountable.
The Raghavan committee report had found out that the conviction rate in ragging cases booked under the Indian Penal Code was very low and recommended changes in the IPC.
The committee suggested an induction programme for the freshers with the help of senior students under faculty guidance and faculty training to check incident of ragging.
The committee recommended stern penalties including expelling students accused of ragging and asked for counselling for victims.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
A Supreme Court appointed committee last week recommended a comprehensive law to check ragging, while seeking accountability of educational institutions for such cases.
The proposed anti-ragging law had faced some opposition in the committee with certain members raising questions over its enforceability.
Six states have enacted anti-ragging laws following a Supreme Court order in 1999 but a negligible number of cases have been registered under the law, a government official said.
The committee in a report to the court has found out that the conviction rate in ragging cases booked under Indian Penal Code was poor and has recommended specific changes in the IPC to improve it.
HRD ministry told Rajya Sabha on Monday that no data is maintained centrally on ragging cases. Earlier this year, a social group Coalition to Uproot Ragging from Education (CURA) has said 25 suicides have been reported because of ragging in the last seven years.
The CURA report also said, “Many institutions don’t report cases of ragging fearing loss of reputation.” The committee wants educational institutions to be made punishable for hiding cases and has recommended a code of guidelines for the colleges.
The committee headed by former CBI Director R K Raghavan had also drawn a social profile of the victims and found that most of the ragging victims were either from rural areas or socially backward communities.
To bridge the divide, the committee has suggested an induction programme for the freshers with the help of senior students under faculty guidance. It also speaks about faculty training to check ragging incidents.
The committee appointed by the court to look into ways of preventing ragging and possible action against the accused has recommended stern penalties including rustication for the accused. The colleges would have to set up psychological counselling mechanism for the victims, the committee has said.
A committee member said the court is expected to consider the report soon.
Monday, May 14, 2007
14 May, 2007 l 0107 hrs IST lTIMES NEWS NETWORK
SURI: Saroj Kumar Biswas, a first-year student of Ramakrishna Shilpa Vidyapith, a state-run polytechnic college, went missing on Friday night. His family members have alleged that Saroj fled from the hostel after being ragged by his seniors.
The family members and college authorities have lodged separate complaints with Suri police on Saturday night, nearly 24 hours after Saroj went missing.
In his complaint at the Suri police station, the victim's elder brother, Dipan, accused six third-year students - all hostel boarders - of being responsible for his brother's disappearance. Dipan has also named some first-year and second-year students who supported his claims.
"They used to torture him. He was threatened with dire consequences if he ever told anybody about the torture he had to endure. I'm a former student of this college and I know very well what goes on here. He had told me about the students who used to torture him. They started to torment him right since the day he joined for the first semester," said Dipan.
Pankaj, the other brother, who studies electrical engineering in the college, also claimed that Saroj was singed with cigarettes. Dipan's statement found support from some first and second-year students.
The boarders first noticed Saroj's absence on Friday night during dinner. The hostel monitor, Avijit Dey, a third-year student, informed the hostel superintendent that Saroj hadn't turned up for dinner. The authorities asked Pankaj about his brother's whereabouts. But he had no information.
The hostel authorities then called up Saroj's residence in Thakurnagar in North 24-Parganas. But even the family members could provide no information.
Suri police has started an investigation into Saroj's disappearance. However, they are surprised by the fact that it took the hostel authorities almost 24 hours to inform them. "The hostel authorities claimed that they were waiting to hear from the family," an officer said.
Satyasankar Panda, the SP of Birbhum said: "Our officers have started an investigation. We are considering all possibilities. We are not ruling out the allegations of ragging that forced Saroj to flee."
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
NEW DELHI, MAY 7 (PTI)
The Committee on ragging is all set to submit its findings to the Supreme Court tomorrow and is expected to suggest changes in the law dealing with the issue.
"More than making it a cognizable offence, most felt that there is a need to bring in a comprehensive law on the matter. There was also opposition to it as well.
"Apart from that the committee has also listed some mandatory instructions for every college to deal with the issue," sources in the committee told PTI.
"The members were also concerned of the low conviction rate in incidences of ragging and hence some amendments in the IPC is certainly in the fray if the courts deem it worth," they added.
The committee, headed by former CBI Director R K Raghavan, has suggested a two-fold approach of punishment coupled with counselling. Wherein, the college needs to also facilitate access to psychological help for both the victim and the potential perpetrator.
The committee headed by former has also noticed a trend in the incidents of ragging and the victims in most cases hail from the rural and weak backgrounds and vice-versa. Hence, some suggestion also include steps to bridge this gap in the campus and promoting amity among the students, the sources said.
The suggestions also speak in favour of healthy ways of introduction of the juniors under the guidance of the faculty. It also speaks of arming the juniors with the identity of the seniors at the time of their entry for better identification and mention of the rules in the prospectus of the colleges to curb the menace.
Monday, May 07, 2007
Anju Agnihotri Chaba
Jalandhar, May 6: In the ragging death case of a student of Dr BR Ambedkar National Institute of Technology (NIT), the crime branch has submitted its inquiry report to the ADGP (Crime) in which it said the institute administration had not taken sufficient measures to stop ragging. The report has also raised a finger over the investigation by the Government Railway Police (GRP).
The report said had the NIT administration taken proper measures to stop ragging on the campus, the death would have never occured. Sources said the probe also questioned why the GRP did not indict the NIT staff responsible for checking ragging.
Notably, a first-year student, Amit Gangwar, had committed suicide by jumping before a train in October 2005 and left a suicide note, naming ten senior students who tortured him.
Crime Branch SP, Jalandhar, Kamal Kumar, was not available for comments.
New Delhi, May 6: In the country’s top medical college, Sateesh Meena is not allowed to dine or play cricket with upper caste students. Neither, he says, is any other Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe student.
Daily life at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences resembles that in the country’s feudal outbacks and Apartheid-era South Africa, a government committee has discovered, confirming findings reported by The Telegraph.
“Some would just get up and walk away when I would sit at the table (in the mess),” said Jiten Dash (name changed, like Meena’s), according to transcripts of conversations the panel had with SC and ST students.
The committee interviewed 25 reserved-category students — half their total number at the institute — of whom almost all said they were told “not to play basketball or cricket by the upper caste students”. “Football and volleyball (that the upper castes don’t fancy) were the only sports we were allowed to play,” Meena said.
The committee claims “enough evidence” that the discrimination is “linked” to the “proactive role the AIIMS administration played” in fanning anti-quota sentiments on campus.
During last year’s anti-reservation agitation, AIIMS authorities had allowed student protesters from other institutions, too, to gather on the campus. No other central institution did so.
Most of those the committee interviewed alleged the teachers ignored Dalit students in class and deliberately failed them in exams, especially the practical tests.
“Even in internship, they are harassing (us)… now they are threatening us about the exams that are coming,” a medico complained against teachers. “Last year, out of seven students… six were failed — nearly by one or two marks.”
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had personally intervened to set up the three-member committee, headed by University Grants Commission chairman Sukhdeo Thorat, after this newspaper reported the campus discrimination.
The panel confirmed the finding that reserved category students were bullied into vacating their hostel rooms, leading to an SC/ST ghetto being formed on two floors of Hostels 4 and 5.
Each of the 25 interviewed said that despite a ragging ban, they were humiliated when they had joined. “They would call us to their rooms and order us… ‘tell us 10 reasons why you should get reservation… if you don’t we’ll beat you’,” one of them said.
“These incidents happen every year. Whenever a new batch joins they are treated like this,” a general category student confirmed.
The authorities ignored repeated complaints from the SC and ST students, encouraging their tormentors.
One Dalit boy who tried to join general category students in a game of basketball was thrashed, the committee noted. Another boy was told to “get out” by the cook when he walked into the mess where the upper castes dined.
The committee said the institute, despite requests, “has not taken any initiative to arrange remedial coaching in English, basic courses or any other spheres for SC/ST students as is required by central government educational institutions”.
Unlike many other central institutions, it lacks a grievance cell for SC and ST students. The committee has recommended that AIIMS set up an “equal opportunity office (EOO)”, answerable to the institute’s governing body and not the hospital administration.
The panel has also suggested that committees in AIIMS at every level — dealing with student, faculty or administration issues — have SC/ST members.
The committee last evening submitted its final report to health minister Anbumani Ramadoss.
Saturday, May 05, 2007
We must try to discipline our children to recognize reality and in so doing, we enrich our own understanding. Welcome their evolving independence and then only, we will be supported by the strength we have helped them attain.
Sanjay Dutt's movie: Lage Raho Munnabhai has certainly created thrills as well as the great impact in every section of our society of course due to movie's funny caption. The caption carries a different message (meaning) to different people and it is used freely according to the occasion and place.
In university and college campus, the smart, nay naughty- so called -senior students got the best opportunity to use, Lage Raho Munnabhai to their own advantage, just to harasses all freshers. Lage Raho Munnabhai, says one senior, while the other guy says..Jago..Jago..! Munna!! In order to make all freshers fully aware and caution them about their fate on the very first day of college. And thus the worst game of ragging begins with a stern warning along with all kinds of harassment and vulgarity. How he worst cruel joke becomes in nightmare which is well-known to everybody. Well done Munnabhai!.
Naturally looking to the increasing trend towards disorder, indiscipline and misbehaviour in Indian universities has aroused controversy and confusion in the minds of all intellectuals, administrators and parents alike. Indeed what is happening at universities today is not just passing commotion, which can be put down by firmer discipline only. As the causes for the present chaotic situation are many and varied, they are to be studied in right perspective and find out ways and means to improve it, before it goes out of control, instead of blaming the student alone.
No doubt, their misbehaviour on various counts and specially in ragging has not only created a terror in the minds of all innocent boys but it has actually threatened their lives by disrupting normal operations and infringing upon the rights of others.
The worst part is, ragging has now become a regular feature of ugly and crude method of so called entertainment with all sorts of vulgarity. Year after year several boys became the target of this unsocial element and are compelled to end their precious lives sheer out of disgust.
It is simply an irony of fate that instead of taking pity over these incidents, every year some new inventions of ragging are pouring through the ingenious brain of the present day youth and they are being carried out with the least idea of its repercussions in the long run. They totally forget that there is a lot of difference between `fun and ragging'.
The most inhuman way of ragging has come to light when all freshers are asked to be naked in front of all seniors at the point of knife. All these acts clearly go to show the extremity of ragging and the extent of moral degradation how the present day youth uses his perverted intelligence in making `fool of himself'. In fact all seniors do forget that `once upon a time' they were also freshers and had become the target of ragging and naturally they ought to have come to their senses, well in time and stopped ragging but ironically enough when they indulge in the same old game of ragging, with full of vigour, sheer out of revengeful attitude, then probably, ragging will have no end in itself, as it is a vicious circle.
Every fresher becomes senior next year and he is bound to think, that ragging automatically becomes his birthright being senior. In short the present day youth lives under obsession of pleasure and entertainment has become the real business of his life. Discipline is a forgotten word and self-restraint does not exist at all.
However, the question poses, whether can we afford to blame the student alone for the present state of affairs and hold them responsible for the mess: the answer is certainly a big no. But we ourselves, as parents and guardians, who are expected to mould their destiny, are equally responsible for all the crises, we are facing today. Because we are unable to understand their problems in right perspective and do not know the art of bringing them up properly, as no other task in the world is so complicated and challenging, as that of bringing up children.
In short, we must try to discipline our children to recognize reality and in so doing, we enrich our own understanding. Welcome their evolving independence and then only, we will be supported by the strength we have helped them attain.
But oh the whole trouble is that instead of realizing the fact that all parents and guardians are the real custodians of their wards and it is they who are responsible and equally expected to keep them under control, check their day to day activities, build their moral character and thus help them to mould their destiny, they indirectly encourage them to misbehave in all spheres of social life without knowing its repercussions in the long run. In short, we ourselves indulge our children in the delusion that we are being good to them. This is the only and primary reason why we are facing the crisis today.
Not only this but in order to escape the responsibility of bringing up their children in right direction they just go on blaming 1) the general education system prevailing in the country. 2) Administrative set-up of all educational institutions. 3) Loss of control over the student by the teaching staff in general and 4) the government's policies in particular forgetting totally that all educational institutions and government agencies are not run by the super human beings but by the persons amongst themselves only.