Are a great idea
Ragging- the term initially meaning an interaction between freshers and seniors has now come to be a much dreaded word for every student, and not without reason. Some individuals, owing to their seniority, remorselessly misuse their authority for shallow pleasure, often leading the victim to suffer physically and/ or mentally. Furthermore, the lenient laws against ragging initially made it very easy for the accused to slip out of the crime with a petty penalty or none at all, thus leading to a more insecure environment for the times to come for the fresher. This reason alone held back a majority of the victims from lodging harassment cases, thus going on to show how ineffective the laws against such an abhorrent crime were and resultantly the vulnerable position which the students were forced to occupy. The population most affected by ragging was that of the outstation students, who due to the absence of guardians and familial help had become easy prey to such incidents. These factors and more made it easy for such exploitation to remain rampant.
The predicaments of ragging didn’t just end there. Such adverse incidents carried out by a senseless few eventually led to the status of seniors being questioned by the juniors and the authorities alike, thus leading to lack of communication and resultantly a lack of cooperation between the three. This has since gone on to severe the relationship between the respective parties, and none seem satisfied. Amitav Roy, a third year student of Sri Venkateswara College says, “We never had a proper interaction with our juniors last year due to the misdoings by a few people highlighted by the media which caused all seniors to be stereotyped as reprobates. Hopefully this time this myth will be broken leading to a mutual, more mature interaction between the two groups. Though the affidavits are a highly unnecessary step, if it makes the freshers feel any more secure then so be it.”
The colleges have been provided a nine page notice defining ragging and stating the newly established rules against it along with the do’s and don’ts for the freshers. According to the Union Human Resource Minister Kapil Sibal, the stringent measures against ragging this while include rustication of the student, withholding of scholarship, derecognising the institution, debarring student from appearing in any test and stopping of grant to the institution.
While the authorities seem happy with their decision, the freshers too seem to share the same sentiments. States Anant Ghughe, a freshman from Hindu College, “The ‘If we suffered, they’ll suffer too’ psyche needs to come to an end. Compromising on one’s dignity for the sake of acceptance is unjustified.” Thus strict as the new anti ragging rules are, they will finally put an end to the psychology of ragging being passed down as a right by virtue of hierarchy.
Are a disaster
The only time our country reacts to a problem we may be facing is when the problem suddenly becomes large and threatening, at which point the authorities inevitably get carried away with the solutions. This was seen during the reservations issue, when instead of offering the underprivileged equal grounds for competition they simply gave them huge advantages without the groundwork needed to support these advantages. Similarly in the case of ragging, when the Supreme Court did take action was when suicide and murder finally brought this long existing problem into the media glare, at which point in order to save face they simply announced a blanket ban on ragging without attempting to understand the situation.
The problem you see is not with the fact that ragging has been criminalized, which is perfectly justified, but that the laws doing so are so terribly sloppy, poorly thought out and ridiculous. By the extraordinarily wide definition of ragging provided in the law, anything, virtually ANYTHING can be construed as ragging. If someone is blocking the passage and you ask them to make way for you to pass, you can be booked under ragging. If you ask a fresher their name you may be seen to be ragging. Even speaking to a fresher puts you in danger of being accused of ragging. It is no wonder than that most seniors are determined to avoid the freshers like a plague, which is hardly a healthy situation to exist between co-students.
What is even more irksome is that the laws, while more than adequately protecting the ones being ragged, are absolutely deficient in shielding the ones falsely accused of ragging. The law states that it is for the accused to prove themselves innocent rather that the complainant to prove them guilty. Moreover third party complaints also hold equal weight, meaning that if any random student, senior or fresher happens to complain that you were ragging another unnamed fresher, you would still be suspended. Such extremely one sided laws are so easy to misuse it would be a huge surprise if they weren’t.
Apart from the misuse that these laws will be put to, and the lack of protection against such misuse provided to seniors, these laws combined with the affidavits to be signed will only sour the relations between freshers and seniors, a situation that can be disastrous in a learning environment. Hence though extreme cases of ragging may be avoided, the lack of interaction between the students will certainly strain the university environment, leading to a whole new problem.
The whole crisis is a result of the lack of effort in creating the laws. Instead of understanding the problem of ragging and identifying exactly which aspects of it are dangerous and how to stamp them out, the authorities decided to put together such broad laws that any and every interaction could be penalized. Instead of balancing the power equation, what they did effectively was to simply shift the power from the seniors to the freshers. Only when cases of freshers bullying seniors or a large number of seniors being unfairly expelled comes into the lime light will the authorities realize their error, at which point they shall again try to save face by coming up with more hurried and ridiculous laws with their own set of evils.
This vicious chain can only end when the law making bodies become mature enough to look before they leap, but then again that may be a far fetched dream.