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Old venom, new bottle

The recent suicide by a medical student, fed up of being constantly harassed, has once again put the spotlight on ragging.

bhopal Updated: Aug 12, 2013 09:51 IST
M Poornima/ Shruti Tomar

Pharma student Anita Sharma’s suicide earlier this week has once again brought forth the menace of ragging in educational institutions and inability of the college administration, law, courts and the government to check it despite vigilance committees, stringent laws and awareness campaigns for the purpose.

Notably, Anita was not a fresher in RKDF college, but a second year student. But fear of her seniors was so overwhelming on her psyche that she couldn’t wear it off her mind even after she, herself, had become a senior.

Ultimately she ended her life, leaving a suicide note on her bed describing how badly she was being ragged and how it was beyond her to bear the agony anymore.

There are Anita Sharmas everywhere, in all colleges and universities.

Be it a medical, engineering and traditional government or private college, ragging is rampant in Madhya Pradesh.

Earlier cases of ragging in colleges hardly came into light but with the establishment of anti-ragging committees, such cases are being registered of late but it’s not enough yet.

HT tried to know whether it is particular psyche which prompts seniors to rag their junior or is it the tradition which every batch and every generation of students pass onto the posterity as a legacy, which is religiously followed.

Student of Gandhi Medical College, Ravi (name changed), said ragging was not brutal in private medical colleges as compared to government ones.

His friends who were studying in government medical colleges were tortured on the name of ragging and were beaten up by their seniors badly, when they don’t follow their instructions.

Sometimes, he said, seniors ask them to provide cell phone numbers of their female classmates.

A third year BSc student (20) of a government college said when he joined the college; his senior had a crush on her friend.

“Some of my senior girls insisted me to convince my friend, but I refused. In the first year, we were humiliated for six months. I informed my faculty and parents about it following which the administration took the matter into cognisance and punished them.

After the incidence, seniors never come in front of us,” he said.

In engineering colleges, it is informed to the girls that to make a boyfriend of senior class is a jackpot for them.

Bhavna, a 3rd year engineering student, said, “It’s a very common that seniors approach junior girls. The senior girls intimate juniors that if a girl says yes to make a boyfriend from senior class, it will be very helpful for them.

The girl will get free from any type of ragging and even they will get guidance from the seniors,” she said.

During recess, hostellers don’t venture out and the ragging class starts after we have our dinner and continues for 2-3 hours every day,” she added.

Same is the experience of a 2nd year engineering student, but in a different way.

“Our seniors took writing test of our class. I tried to write as fine as I can to impress them. They selected some students, including me, who have good handwriting. At that time, I was feeling good that I succeeded in impressing them but later, I realized that I have committed a serious mistake.”

She said the seniors gave her to write their assignments. “I completed assignments of six of my seniors and used to get only 3-4 hours’ time to sleep.”

She had taken the issue with faculties many times but was told that it’s normal and not ragging.

They also asked her to complain only when the seniors physically abuse or harass her.

Now, she wants a clear definition of ragging.

“Students and faculties take ragging as a physical harassment and regular torture. I don’t understand what type of ragging I faced.”

Pallavi Chandel (name changed), a second year student of bachelor in dental science (BDS) at a private college, said girls usually ask to dance or sing or ask personal questions from the juniors.

However, sometimes the questions asked by girls become so weird that it makes new students, who already face difficulty in adjusting with the new environment of the college, inconvenient.

“Dancing in front of all the students is normal for boys. But for girls, it’s very problematic. Girls feel shy in doing so but you oppose this, you are asked to do sit-ups,” she added.
Strictness provokes seniors towards ragging in places other than college premises.

College administration does several arrangements for the safety of newcomers.

The classes of 1st year students run at separate buildings.

In some colleges, guard has also been posted on the gate to check the entry of the seniors.

Even, juniors are not allowed in the canteen.

But these don’t stop seniors from ragging them.

Some feel that this strictness provokes seniors towards ragging in other places.

Adarsh, a second year MBBS student, said hostellers face ragging more as compared to day scholars.

He said as he was a day scholar, he rarely counter ragging in first year but his classmates who used to live in hostel did face.

Whenever they have to call a senior, they have to add ‘respected senior sir’ before taking their names and if, by mistake, they forget to do so, they were beaten up by the seniors.

Harsha Manchandani, who passed pharmacy recently, said, the ragging can’t be stopped without strict rules and regulations.

“My sister has just passed first year of pharmacy. She told me that seniors can’t take ragging in college, but in buses. In the college bus, seniors give different tasks to the juniors. Sometimes, they snatch their lunch and force them to call sir and madam. There was no teacher or faculty in the bus who could stop the seniors.”

Ragging is not limited up to 1st year students only.

Two months ago, a second year engineering student of a government college of Bhopal complained to the college administration and anti-ragging cell against seniors who were harassing him for the past six months. Vishwajeet (changed name) said he was physically and mentally harassed by four seniors.

Later, he lodged a complaint with the anti-ragging committee.

“In the first year, seniors came to my room and asked me to come with them but I refused. At that time, they did nothing. But, when I came in the second year, they started abusing me. But my college administration supported me and rusticated the seniors.”

Nowadays, ragging has become a personal problem. Senior targets only some students.

“The problem has become worse than previous years. Earlier, seniors used to take group ragging so it was fun too. But now in the form of ragging, they take revenge,” Vishwajeet added.

Medical colleges have a great history of ragging.

Some of the cases that took place in the medical colleges were so serious that the police had to intervene in this.

On February 14, 2012, students of MBBS first year of Gandhi Medical College (GMC) lodged a complaint with dean of the medical college.

Harassed by their seniors, the first year students requested the dean of the college to change their hostel.

According to the letter submitted by a first year students, their just seniors never harass them but those of third and fourth year students ask them to do the personal work of their room.

However, post-graduation students of Gandhi Medical College have a different say about ragging.

They feel ragging is good for personality development of the students.

Dr Lalit Shrivastava said he has been a member of the anti-ragging committee for a medical college for the past three years but never received any complaint.

“Earlier, ragging was very common in medical colleges, but now the scenario has changed and the college administration has become strict,” he feels.