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Fascinating piece regarding “ragging” deaths in India

Excerpt from newspaper editorial follows: Has the SC gone overboard in calling ragging a crime and asking for ‘exemplary and justifiably harsh’ action against those found guilty of indulging in it? The answer is an emphatic no.

Ask the parents of Amit Gangwar, a first year student at BR Ambedkar National Institute of Technology, Jalandhar, who unable to bear the torment any more, threw himself in front of a train in 2005 or of Parmeshwar, a student at Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi, who ended his life for the same reason in 2003.Ask Sujit Saraf, who studied at the prestigious IIT Delhi from 1987 to 1992 and has had the courage to write about his experiences during the first few days there in Tehelka. No punishment can ever be severe enough as far as they are concerned.It’s not only those who have lost their children so wantonly who will applaud the apex court. So will thousands of parents who send their children to colleges, including some of the most sought-after professional colleges in the country, and are then compelled to wait out an agonizing two months, fearing the worst.To them the SC’s interim directions directing educational institutions to register criminal cases against those indulging in ragging activities are a long overdue and much needed step to end the menace of ragging on our campuses.

Inevitably the apex court’s directions have set off a fierce debate. Those who regard raging as harmless fun, as high jinks, a rite of passage to membership of a group argue that the ruling is excessively harsh. Apart from mandatory filing of an FIR, the court has shifted the onus of proof to the accused rather than the victim. It has also warned of more stringent measures in September when it gives its final directions, presumably based on the experience of working with these interim directions.

Diehard supporters of ragging are not the only ones unhappy with the SC’s directions. Heads of some educational institutions have criticized it on the grounds that not all instances of ragging are violent or abusive and hence lodging an FIR might be going too far. Agreed, not all cases of ragging are perverted or dangerous but it is not so difficult to distinguish between those that are plain fun and those that are not.

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press.

One reply on “Fascinating piece regarding “ragging” deaths in India”

Ragging is projected as a means of interaction and familiarisation among students in college. However, ragging is an archaic means of interaction which traces its roots to the 7th century.

Those who believe that ragging acts as an ice-breaker should read this. Modern methods of familiarisation are the need of the hour… http://www.noragging.com/analysis/CR2006_12-12_Familiarisation.pdf

CURE recently released a comprehensive research report with detailed statistics. This is perhaps the only organised study on ragging in India today. The summary report can be found at http://www.noragging.com/analysis/CR2007_05-16_RaggingInIndiaSummary.pdf

25 deaths in 7 years with 11 of them (plus 10 attempted suicides) in the last 2 years is testimony to the fear ragging inculcates among students in the country.

The Supreme Court order is welcome. But this is just a start. A lot needs to be done.

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