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What is happening?

Want to do something? Go to stopragging.org and sign the petition to make ragging punishable by law. If we make our voices heard, we will make a difference, says Anoushka Shankar.

india Updated: Mar 27, 2009 19:42 IST
Anoushka Shankar column

Rohit Kumar died last week because his college hospital at IIT Kharagpur failed him. His head injury went unattended while he and his friends waited for a doctor. Upon arrival, the doctor said there was nothing he could do and sent them by ambulance to Kolkata with an untrained pharmacist, over two hours after the accident.

Ten minutes into the ride, Rohit’s friends realised the oxygen had not been turned on. As Rohit began coughing up blood, his friends tried to save him, following instructions over the phone on how to pump blood. They got to a nearer hospital but were initially refused admittance, since the hospital did not know they were coming. Rohit, a third-year student with a curable injury, died then and there.

Earlier this month, Aman Kachroo, 19, died as a result of severe thrashing from his seniors at medical school. He had given a written complaint about the abuse to the authorities, but atrociously, no action was taken. Within days, a young girl in Andhra attempted suicide after being forced to dance naked by her seniors.

This is the bright future of our country, and their lives are literally in the hands of callous officials with poor medical facilities, and ragging is passed off as a rite of passage. Every student deserves a basic guarantee of safety and care. Some are afraid to go to school, and it’s sinful to extinguish the hope in the eyes of a young student by blackening it out with fear.

We owe it to ourselves, our country, our future to take action. Ragging must be made a criminal offence. Every educational facility must have staff and equipment to provide care for students, and a proper system in place for prompt external care when needed.

Ragging is glorified bullying, and it must not be tolerated. Is there any other area of society where bullying is considered a form of “bonding?” Sorry, but I think a student being terrorised by his senior can hardly look at him with fondness or respect.

Want to do something? Go to stopragging.org and sign the petition to make ragging punishable by law. Research the RK Raghavan Committee on ragging, and join organisations on campus to help implement safety measures for students as recommended by the panel. Support the students at IIT Kharagpur in their campaign for quality medical care by visiting their campus website scholarsavenue.targetlit.com.

For all its failings, India is a democracy. If we make our voices heard, we will make a difference.