MCI, end casual approach to ragging

The Supreme Court-appointed Anti-Ragging Monitoring Committee has pulled up several bodies/ institutions, including the Medical Council of India (MCI), the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and the Sports Authority of India (SAI) for not doing enough to prevent ragging in educational institutions. It has described the country’s medical colleges as “hot-beds for ragging” and raised concern over the “serious cases of ragging” in engineering colleges. Ragging is a criminal offence in India. Over the years, several measures and mechanisms have been put in place to prevent and punish it. While the number of serious cases has witnessed a dip, it continues to be practised. Between July and December last year, 42 cases of ragging were reported from various medical colleges and 25 cases have been reported so far this year. What was supposed to be a fun way of getting to know new students has degenerated over the decades to become a dangerous pastime, often involving humiliation and sexual perversion and sometimes culminating even in the death of the victim.

The Anti-Ragging Monitoring Committee has rapped the MCI on the knuckles for not setting up a special cell for dealing with ragging to receive complaints and facilitate redressal. The MCI has sought to explain away its lapses by claiming that it has a grievance redressal cell that students can approach. Its explanation is unconvincing. Ragging is a problem that has proven to be difficult to tackle. In the circumstances, it needs focused efforts. Mechanisms dealing with a hundred other issues will not be effective in responding promptly to complaints of ragging. Last year, in the name of ragging, 84 new students were thrashed by their seniors with steel rods at the Ranchi Institute for Medical Sciences. Not only did the MCI’s grievance cell drag its feet in responding to the complaints but also no concrete action was taken. This underscores the need for a cell that is dedicated to identifying, preventing and punishing ragging. The MCI needs to end its casual approach to ragging. It is time it implemented fully the monitoring committee’s orders.

The fight against ragging can succeed only if civil society participates robustly in the mechanisms set up to stop ragging. Awareness must be created that rag-ging is a crime and will not be tolerated. Some continue to defend ragging in mild forms on the ground that this is fun and mere teasing. It isn’t. India must show zero tolerance to the practice of ragging in all its forms. Only then can we eliminate it.

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