Spurt in ragging cases in Bhopal colleges this academic session has once again put the spotlight on effectiveness of elaborate anti-ragging system in place — tough laws against ragging to anti-ragging committees and helpline et al.
But, what appears to be missing is a sincere attempt to replace ragging with a more constructive interactive session between the junior and the senior students.
A large number of students, who HT talked to, said instead of organising introduction party, there was a need to organise counselling and interactive session for the newly admitted students by teachers and seniors on the very first day. It would give the new entrants a feel of the environment of the campus in a far easier way, feel the students.
A third-year engineering student, Nividita Rawat said, "When I first entered the college, I was so nervous and disturbed as everything was new for me. We didn’t know anything about college’s environment. We were like a prey and teachers were trying to save us from the hunters (seniors). If a senior ultimately caught an ‘unguarded’ junior, they would take out all their frustration on him and he would be badly ragged."
Nivedita suggested that the college administration should organise a counselling session for the new students. "In the session, students could interact with seniors too, so that hide and seek game comes to an end and number of ragging cases comes down," she said.
Another engineering student, Farhan Malik of 2nd year said through interactive session and counselling, mutual understanding between juniors and seniors would be developed in a right manner.
Monika Wadhwani, a bachelor of dental surgery student, felt that the counsel would also help generate a sense of respect for the seniors in the minds of juniors, and the seniors, too, develop a sense of protection towards juniors.
"It will not only reduce the ragging cases but also other brawls," Monika added.
Counsellor Yogita Yash Rawat agrees. "Due to heavy protection, juniors feel that their elders can’t even ask their name and if they ask, it’s ragging. Similarly, if a junior doesn’t wish the senior student, the latter take it to the ego and take revenge in the form of ragging. The multi-level counselling not only helps students in concentrating more in enjoying college life but also in getting good marks in the studies."
"I asked many colleges, but only a few showed interests in organising counselling session. In August, the college administration concentrates more on admission than taking care of outsiders for those not only the college but also city is new," she added.
However, some students feel that strict punishment is the only deterrent to ragging. In case of mental and physical harassment, criminal cases should be registered against students concerned under various section of Indian Penal Code.
Shubhank Vijaywargiya, a third-year student of BE, said, "I saw some students planning on how to torture juniors physically or mentally just for the sake of it or fun. They don’t have the fear of consequences, as they think that at most they would be suspended from the class. How can students have fun at the expense of another person? Because of this practice many students have lost their lives too."
Shubhank suggested that FIR should be lodged against the students and police should deal with such them sternly. Education activist Sachin Jain said punishment was not the right way to curb ragging in the education institutions as those who torture juniors are not criminals but students. "With strict laws, moral protection is required for both seniors and juniors," he said.
Guardian Guilds convener Professor Zammiruddin said instead of blaming students, teachers should work towards stopping ragging. "Teachers should channelise the energy of students into creativity that could be used in building a nation," he added.