Cognizance of Ragging


Masud Khabeki
Today, ragging has become deep rooted in our educational set up, but many would be
surprised to know that ragging is originally a western concept, where seniors played
practical jokes at the time of welcoming freshmen to the institutions. More recently,
ragging is considered and could well be understood in the background of harassment
systems run by a privileged but basically imbecile people of a certain stratum of the
society that very cautiously and tactfully reserves certain rights for itself in the countries
of sub-continent. Ragging may be a simple fun-making to revenge and even so serious
to belittling others by exposing them to different strains. Ragging is known by various
names like teasing, bullying, racking, and ducking. The practice of ragging became
popular throughout the world with the passage of time. However, ragging was assumed
obnoxious and harmful connotations by a large section of society, they always criticized
it and severely condemned these practices. Today, almost all countries of the world have
enacted stern laws that ban ragging and it has been completely eradicated in countries
such as Canada and Japan. But sadly, the sub-continent, which inherited ragging as a
legacy from the British Raj, has not been able to free itself from the clutches of this
inhuman practice. It can be said, without any room for doubt, that the worst form of
ragging is committed in this part of the world. Ragging has become a major concern of
society today. It has increased its level from college to society level. There are some
basic human rights which provide an individual to live peacefully, healthy, and without
any alien disturbance and contrary to this, ragging, as a custom violates all those rights
from the very beginning and thereby, putting question on capabilities of Law and also
on the validity of human dignity.
Furthermore, if we explore the history of ragging we find that when regular military
formation in England military training schools and academies came to be established,
candidates enrolled came from heterogeneous groups, they came from different social
status and the seniors wanted to devise some special methods of social mix-up, to
develop a new fraternity in that military group. The need was promoted by two urgent
requirements. One, that the young people coming away from their homes initially feel
home sickness and are a little too shy in mixing up easily with others. Two, a new recruit
going from a free civil atmosphere, needs a fair grooming in a military discipline which
is totally based upon the well-demarcated authority lines and the concept of senior and
junior and even the slightest disrespect or disobedience shown towards a senior is very
much frowned upon and penalized. To accomplish these two aims, the concept of
ragging was taken up in the service schools as well. Ragging thus was commissioned to

break ice between the new entrants and others and also to inculcate a sense of discipline
in the new entrants. For this, normally, in the beginning of the training programs, the
seniors used to jest and mock at the juniors and make fun of them. Occasionally, they
also dogged the juniors for their overtures or indecent behavior. All enjoyed it as a fun
and the juniors swiftly adjusted to the new environment within a short period. This kind
of ragging hardly lasted for a fortnight.
However, many ill minded elements sometimes misused the opportunity to give vent to
their worse tendencies and used the occasion for avenging their grievances behind the
curtain of ragging. In due course of time this type of ragging became a right of seniors
and necessary punishment for the juniors. In the beginning the practice of ragging was
used for purposes such as greeting and wishing the seniors, paying respect to the
seniors, making the juniors submissive, cut them to size, acquaintance, friendship, unity,
make juniors smart and up-to-date, teach them manners, make them bold, remove
shyness and bring forth talents. The purpose of ragging mentioned in the preceding
lines actually lost somewhere with the passage of time or may be with the social and
cultural change. In recent times, the methodology exerted by the seniors to achieve the
above-mentioned goals has sharply deteriorated and a sense of morality. The method
has become a tool to humiliate the juniors. In fact, ragging has become a form of
aggression to the extent of criminality.
The acts of seniors which constitutes this aggressive nature of ragging may include
many types. For example, by words spoken or written or by an act which has the effect
of teasing, treating or handling with rudeness a fresher or any other student. Indulging
in rowdy or indiscipline activities which causes or is likely to cause annoyance, hardship,
physical or psychological harm or to raise fear or apprehension thereof in a fresher or
other student. Asking a student to do an act which such student will not in the ordinary
course do and which has the effect of causing or generating a sense of shame, or
torment or embarrassment so as to adversely affect the physique or psyche of such
fresher or other student. This could be an act by a senior student that prevents, disrupts
or disturbs the regular academic activity of another student or a fresher. This could be
an act of financial extortion or forceful expenditure burden put on a fresher or other
student by students and an act of physical abuse including all variants of it including
sexual abuse, homosexual assaults, stripping, forcing obscene and lewd acts, gestures,
causing bodily harm or any other danger to health or person. Ragging also include an
act or abuse by spoken words, emails, post, public insults which would also include
deriving perverted pleasure, vicarious or sadistic thrill from actively or passively
participating in the discomfiture to fresher or any other student. Furthermore, an act
that affects the mental health and self-confidence of a fresher or other student with or
without an intent to derive a sadistic pleasure or showing off power, authority or
superiority by a student over a fresher including physical or mental abuse (bullying &

exclusion) targeted at another student (fresher or otherwise) on the ground of color,
race, religion, caste, ethnicity, gender (transgender), sexual orientation, appearance,
nationality, regional origins, linguistic identity, place of birth, place of residence or
economic background are also categorized as an intent of ragging.
There is an urgent need to adopt preventive measures to stop such inhuman activities.
The Higher Education Commission must formulate Anti-Ragging laws for strict
compliance in educational institutions. Ragging is a confirmed disorderly conduct that
has the effect of teasing or handling with rudeness any student, which causes or is likely
to cause annoyance, harm or to raise fear in a junior so as to adversely affect the psyche
of the junior. Strict practical steps to control ragging must include stern role of
authorities, ban on smoking and alcohol within colleges and hostels, surprise raids in
hostels and buses, postings (with accommodation) of wardens in hostels, separate
hostels for juniors, presence of college “disciplinary committee” and “cultural
committee,” strict punishments for those involved in ragging. Higher Education
Commission must take notice against the erring colleges and universities for ignoring
the formulation of anti-ragging laws. Ragging should be declared a crime because it
involves the physical, mental and social exploitation of not only an individual but also of
his/her family and the society as a whole.
The Institutions must be directed to erect suitable hoardings/bill boards/banners in
prominent places within the campus to exhort the students to prevent or not to indulge
in ragging and also indicating therein the names of the officials and their telephone
numbers to be contacted in case of ragging. All Educational Institutions should form an
Anti-Ragging-Committee and squads and dedicated cadre of wardens and professional
counselors to stop this menace. An affidavit must be obtained from every Student,
Parent/Guardian separately for strict compliance of anti-ragging laws. The Institution
may also undertake other forms of campaign as it may consider appropriate for
prevention of ragging. Any violation of regulations as cited above or if any Institution
fails to take adequate steps to prevent ragging or act in accordance with these
regulations or fails to punish perpetrators of incidents of ragging suitably, the HEC
must initiate punitive action against erring institutions. There must be a toll-free helpline
for students in distress owing to ragging related incidents at the earliest.