Ragging on the rise, must be curbed

Ragging on the rise, must be curbed

Ragging on the rise, must be curbed

Ragging in colleges and institutes of higher learning is on the rise again. According to official figures, 901 cases of ragging were recorded in the country's universities and colleges in 2017, up from 515 in 2016. This is a disgraceful 75% increase, the highest to be registered since 2013. Institutions in Gujarat and Assam are the worst offenders; in 2016, the two states registered five and 10 cases respectively, which shot up to 16 and 33 cases the next year. Cases of ragging in these two states have tripled in a year. The rise in cases of ragging is most serious in north India. But the southern states cannot sit back complacently. Cases of ragging recorded in Karnataka's colleges and universities rose from 24 in 2016 to 49 last year. Pondicherry, which did not see any ragging cases in 2016, had eight cases registered in 2017. The ragging problem in the country is likely to be far more serious than what the figures reveal. The official figures are a count of cases registered. Most victims of ragging do not register the bullying they were subjected to as they fear those who ragged them. Often, victims are threatened into withdrawing cases by the perpetrators and even college authorities who do not want to sully the institution's reputation. Hence, victims are forced into a conspiracy of silence. The government figures of ragging thus provide only a glimpse of the problem, just the tip of the iceberg.

Ragging is a problem that is often laughed off as a minor issue, harmless ribbing of a junior by his seniors. The reality is quite different. Freshers are teased, ridiculed, humiliated and terrorised. Sometimes they are told to perform sexually perverted acts. Consequently, ragging has long-term implications for the psychological and physical wellbeing of youngsters. A series of cases that came to light a decade ago forced the Supreme Court and the University Grants Commission to sit up. Ragging was banned and the UGC set up committees and panels to monitor and halt this practice. The onus of reporting an incident of ragging was put on the head of the institution. In the event of his failure to do so, he could be held liable of abetting the crime.

The steps taken to tackle ragging had impact initially; the number of cases fell. It is increasing now. It is evident that college authorities are becoming lax. Strong rules are in place; colleges must act robustly to implement them. The wellbeing of our children and their future careers is at peril if we allow this perverted practice to raise its ugly head again.

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