Using racially or ethnically pejorative terms will come in for stricter punishment at institutions of higher education under new anti-ragging regulations taking effect from the upcoming academic session.
Addressing someone as Bihari or chinki, for instance, or practising discrimination on the basis of someone being a tansgender person will come under an expanded definition of ragging approved as part of the latest amendment in regulations at a UGC (University Grants Commission) meeting on February 4.
“The terms race, racial, ethnic, ethnicity, transgender and stalking have now been brought under the regulations and anyone found guilty will face action,” a senior official said.
Those held guilty can be suspended, rusticated, removed from the hostel, have their results withheld or face a fine ranging between Rs 2,000 and Rs 1 lakh.
“There are so many incidents of discrimination and harassment that take place but police find some excuse or the other not to file a complaint. Now we know that calling names will be covered under ragging, so more students will file complaints. This is a positive move,” J Maivio, vice-president of the North East Indian Welfare Society, said.
The Supreme Court had taken cognizance of ragging and constituted the Raghavan Committee to give specific recommendations to prevent the menace, following which a sub-committee under the chairmanship of Rajendra Prasad, principal of Ramjas College, was formed in June last year.
The sub-committee focused on discrimination on the basis of physical characteristics/gender identity, too. “These have now been defined as punishable forms of racial injustice,” a senior official said.
The commission sent its recommendations to the HRD ministry for concurrence and a gazette notification will be issued soon.
The ministry has allocated a sum of Rs 5 crore to the UGC for a media and publicity campaign against ragging in educational institutions. Radio jingles, short films and TV ads will be created to make students, parents and teachers aware of punishment, provide call-centre numbers, and distribute information about who to contact in case of ragging.
Universities and colleges have witnessed a spurt in incidents of discrimination on grounds of regional or caste origins over the past few years. As students from the northeast in particular faced a lot of discrimination, former HRD minister Pallam Raju had requested the UGC to consider racial discrimination as ragging.