The word "Ragging" conjures up visions of horror in the hearts of many a pro spective boarder of college-hostel. So many tales of torture and humiliation have got associated with the practice of "ragging" that it is virtually impossible to look at this practice from any angle other than that of disapproval ragging means perpetrating of insult, humiliation and torture upon the freshers by the seniors.
The former apprehend that they are in for a series of practical jokes and constant teasing at the hands of the latter. There is no way they can escape this unpleasant fate. The status of one's father or the standing of one' family is no surety against rough handling of their body and mind by the "dadas" of the hostels. Dadas run the show in the hostels and nobody - neither the principal nor the warden - dares to interfere with the ways of the "dadas".
Ragging has not always been the nightmare it has now become. Ragging originated in the west as a sort of initiation rites. The fresh entrants to colleges/hostel were initiated into the manners and way of life of the hostel by their seniors. The latter had also gone through their share of ragging at the time of entry.
It was now their turn to have some amusement at the cost of the freshers. They would tease the freshers about their looks or about their manners. Abnormally tall or short students would be easy targets as also the fat and the lean. Students wearing glasses would have their glasses snatched away and made to read without them. Some freshers would be asked to run errands for the seniors.
Sometimes the seniors would insist that the freshers bow before them and greet them with folded hands. The fresher would face a major calamity when eatables brought by him from home would be consumed by a battery of senior students within a few minutes in his presence. His protests would invite teasing, ridicule and charges of selfishness.
Ragging frequently consists of mock-interview and mock-trials of the freshers. The seniors would constitute themselves into an interview board and would interview the fresher one by one. The latter would be asked detailed questions. There would be probing questions about the sexual experience or exploits of the fresher. Any attempt to evade the questions or circumvent them will invite snubs and ridicule.
A fresher who resists the attempts of his seniors to ridicule him would become\ target for special harassment. He might be charged of stealing an article of a senior and would be put on a mock-trial. The Jury constituted by the seniors would act as the accuser, the judge and the punishing authority.
The accused may be pressurized by \ verbal instructions or physical threats into admitting his guilt. Defiance would result in sure convictions. The convict would be asked to polish the shoes of his senior's foot a week or clean their clothes. A boarder who dares complain to the warden would become a target of guerilla warfare. He would be constantly harassed by some gang of the seniors.
Ragging is indeed a nightmare for the subjects as they go through the ordeal. But | it does have some positive effects on the fresher. Those who endure it with courage get emboldened. They get used to facing hardships and unpleasant situations. They build up a reserve of fortitude in their personality. The roughness and toughness of the impersonal environment do not rattle them so easily.
It is not uneaten that the perpetrators and the victims of ragging become best of friends in course of time. Their friendship is all the more enduring for the initial feelings of hostility they have experienced in their first encounters.
Ragging also enhances the self-awareness of many students who are too much obsessed by their own ideals and pursuits such as cranks or book-worms. A moderate amount of ragging induces the fresher to behave in socially acceptable ways and abandon his eccentricity.
Many of the activities, which go under the guise of ragging, are extremely questionable practices. It is hard to defend them or to say that they would smoothen the angularities of behaviour of the persons and socialize them into the behaviour-patterns of the majority of the boarders.
Such might have been the case when higher education was the exclusive preserve of some privileged classes and ragging was limited to a certain extent. Moreover, the intervention of the hostel authorities used to prevent the seniors from going berserk.
Of late, ragging has degenerated into simple torture of the innocent at the hands of sadistic element among the senior boarders. The latter, who might have been the products of unhappy childhood, would seek their revenge on the emotional and sensitive youth by straining their nerves and endurance.
Such sadists have sometimes locked up the fresher in bathrooms for over 24 hours or have physically beaten them. Cases have been reported in the press of ragging leading to death. Some authorities have reacted strongly to tackle the menace of unrestrained ragging. In 1992, the Education Minister of Tripura expelled 17 students of Narsingarh Polytechnic for indulging in violent ragging. In some campuses, even the police were called to prevent ragging.
Ragging, an amusing practice in the olden days has degenerated into an unmitigated evil. It can no longer be put back on rails. Attempts of many educationalists to temper ragging with affectionate banter and repartee have not met with any notable success. It has become a synonym for torture. It must go. Ragging should be banned in campuses.