A Necessary Evil?

Sometimes it is existent, like an inconspicuous needle in a hay stack, sometimes like an ostentatious parade of unity. For decades, if not centuries, this phenomenon, pervasive to say the least, has managed to veil itself in an imperceptible cloak of self deniability. It’s been one of the few practices of man (or to keep the feminist at bay, mankind) that has been able to survive the test of time without having any complaisant reasoning to substantiate it. A vast majority of today’s Indian society perceives it as an occurrence which must be eradicated under all circumstances. However, a seemingly equal majority, surprisingly, extends a silent but steady support to this one-of-a-kind tradition which, more commonly, goes by the name of ragging in our Subcontinent.

So what is the precise meaning of this term which is oft used so unwittingly? Or a more relevant question, in the present scenario, would be-What exactly is ragging perceived to be? Is it a ritual firmly rooted in the belief system of students and a reflection of a deeper malaise plaguing the society? Or is it a term being misused and more often than not, being clubbed with villainous criminal activities? Is it a euphemism being used to shield hideous, condemnable acts taking place on college campuses? Or is it one of those propitious, if not amiable, platforms for healthy interaction with the college seniors? The argument is certainly not, by any means, an easy one and its numerous dimensions, of varying complexities, has made it even more necessary to warrant it a profound deliberation.

“What’s happening today is not ragging. Let’s not get our terminologies wrong here. It’s sadism. It’s gross sexual harassment. And nobody is saying that this is correct. However, we are creating confusion here by terming it as ragging.” says Mr. Jug Suraiya, Associate Editor, The Times of India.

It’s a sentiment that is being resonated by a considerable section of the youth today. Bringing reprehensible acts of iniquities under the ambit of ragging is, it seems, undervaluing the heinousness of the crime. And at the same time, it is generating a grey area of legitimacy where even a mild ragging offence is being dealt with in an over-stringent manner. Preetam Kumar, General Secretary, Azad Hall of Residence is echoing a similar predilection.

”There should definitely be a blanket ban on ragging. However, authorities are, I feel, putting a clamp on everything under the pretext of ragging. We try to bring out the talent in the students of our hall by advising them on a number of things which help them in pursuing their interests. However, the current atmosphere of mistrust and uncertainty has discouraged a lot of seniors to even talk to juniors. They are not even ready to come near them fearing action. This will, I fear, permanently increase the distance between consecutive batches and destroy our age-old hall tradition where students of all batches used to live, like a family, in perfect harmony.”

The law, howbeit, does not appear to be making a distinction between the barbaric incidents which have, to be honest, quite annoyingly managed to repeat themselves, and certain acts which a lot of us like to term as ‘mild ragging’. This leads us to another thought-provoking question-Is there such a thing called harmless ragging? It’s, according to many, a tradition which has been around for several centuries. A tradition which helps in forming closer everlasting bonds and in turn, providing a congenial, family-like environment especially in  colleges having on campus accommodation. More importantly, says Preetam Kumar, it assists in personality development of the students making them more adept in handling the outside world.  Are these strongly embedded notions a mirror of the ground reality? Or are they just judgmental speculations being passed off as fair play?  Dr. R K Raghavan, Chairman, Anti-Ragging Monitoring Committee and former director, CBI, is quite clear about his views. “It’s like trying to make a distinction between good Taliban and bad Taliban. The Supreme Court has quite categorically defined ragging (see box) and its implications. The menace has to come to a complete stop.”

Social tolerance for ragging has, in a way, blinded us to the unfolding reality of today.  The spike in the number of incidents, nationally, seems to create the impression that harmless ragging, inevitably, will lead to its more lethal form. “There will always be one or two students who would derive sadistic pleasures by torturing their juniors. There’s no way to ensure that these things will not happen unless a ban, in an absolute sense, is imposed.” says Professor Kanchan Chowdhury, Head, Cryogenic Centre. It’s uncanny to witness the number of silent heads which nod in unison when confronted with the question if a total ban is crucial to prevent those sporadic yet fatal incidents arising out of this phenomenon.

The seat of judgment has spoken and spoken in clear terms. The laws may have become astringent and from a moral perspective, a little unjustified. For some, the laws might be seen as tyrannical which is cruelly infringing upon their personal space. However, this should give us all the more reason to proceed with caution and restraint. The administration needs to recognize the fact that they will also be held accountable if they fail in implementing proper safeguards and preventive measures. Seniors will have to accept the fact that a case of ragging, mildest to the slightest degree in their calculations, can bring about a punishment (see chart) they had never asked for. The fear expressed by a lot of alumni and seniors alike, is that a tradition which they like to term as harmless, is becoming extinct in the present circumstances. Well, traditions (good or bad) have to be shown the door when they begin to carry an excess of unwanted baggage. Besides, it would be a somber, harsh and premature obituary of the visions of the founding fathers’ of our nation if we, as a civilized and developing society, are not able to come up with a better, friendlier and more cultured alternative.

12 Comments

  1. protik says:

    Whoa! I must praise Scholsave for giving attention to a much needed
    topic. The article on OP makes a bold statement. Not too blunt. Not
    too inflammatory. The perfect mix of tactfulness and firmness. The
    flow and quality of article is awesome. I am really impressed. Way to
    go guys.

  2. rohit says:

    I feel that a good sensitive topic has been well handled here.Need for “OP” is an open topic and certainly worth discussing. Scholars avenue has done a good job bringing the topic up…

  3. Param says:

    It tries very hard to not take sides which is commendable and the level of english is excellent.You guys write much better than the regular media.I think the quotes in the middle section of the paper were one sided with most of them being against ragging. The quotes should have covered a wider viewpoint.

  4. random guy says:

    Preetam macha diya hai.Azad insti ka baap hai

  5. shreyas says:

    a nice article for a great topic
    a topic worth to be discussed

  6. ankit says:

    complete justice with a real sensative topic..

  7. Preetam says:

    I believe there is many positive and negative aspects of OP.Many seniors and alum of iit kgp points many advantages of giving OP,its helps student in becoming mentally strong and its also give them a platform to proof there guts in fronts of there hall seniors.But there are also some negative shed of tis,there are many thing tat must b avoided.
    Commendable work by the scholars avenue team.

  8. Tushar Gupta says:

    A great article on such a debatable topic. It clearly presents the true picture…

  9. tharun says:

    i felt the write-up has quite well been compiled and the topic is certainly worth discussing though its subjected to rather more skepticism. The delivery was quite good. i had a feeling that the author had a for-OP feeling, but it was masked perfectly with an anti-OP wave. i really would like to appreciate the scholars avenue for bringing this up.

  10. nisha sinha says:

    the way of representation is really amazing.i think such sensitive and controversial topic is very carefully handled by author.the way in which the both aspect is presented is really admirable.it deserves to be placed at the editorial.

  11. sbharti says:

    the scale of the ‘cursed word’ ragging has gone down like free fall with time.. and the kiddo guys who hurt their atti when asked to strip (for bathing under hose pipe) are probably resultant of increasingly closed lifestyle.. OP is so natural that it is never going to stop.. but i doubt it has remained much at all, even in some halls of KGP!

    But, they are few. So instead of beating all with same stick, HPs and Gsecs should help pick up these kiddos and handle them carefully, while train the junta with full force. Undoubtedly, OP is hell personal (most realise this after OP is over) and it requires sensibility (both ways).

  12. gandalf says:

    Which thesaurus was that?!
    Are we havin an entry for the man booker here? Why did the author have to use all the flowery language over something as sensational as OP? Too much jargon can kill the feel. Keep the decorous vocab at a minimun; seems outta place for a student newspaper…

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