Ragging - Who Is Responsible?

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Finally, the four boys who ragged and beat to death Aman Kachroo (a first year MBBS student at Tanda Medical College, Himachal Pradesh, India) would be behind the bars. The Court has handed out a punishment of four years rigorous imprisonment (RI) to these four boys.

Professor Kachroo (Aman's father), who used to work as a Professor in DU, had quit his job to start this campaign against ragging in the country. This case shook the whole nation, although ragging was not a new thing - it was rampant, and even such fatal incidents were also taking place. But, the man behind the campaign put in whatever he was left with, after losing his son Aman, for this cause. It is commendable. Grieving for your child is one thing, and fighting to save others' is another.

The Aman Movement:

It was commendable on Professor Kachroo's part, not because he fought in the courts to get justice for his dead son, but, because he worked for a bigger cause, to make everybody aware about the rampant spread of ragging in all educational institutions of India.

The efforts of Professor Kachroo bore fruits when the State Government of Himachal Pradesh (India) passed a legislation against ragging, 'The Himachal Pradesh Educational Institutions (Prohibition of Ragging) Act, 2009' in August last year. The Act states that students involved in ragging would not only be expelled and be ineligible for admission to any other institution for three years, but may also be jailed and fined Rs. 50,000.

Why Ragging?

Ragging, understandably, is done to get acquainted with the juniors. It surely has some hint of insecurity in the seniors, who think it is justified to make the newcomers look stupid in order to retain their importance in every body's eyes. Within limits, it could have been a healthy way of mixing up with college mates and making new friends, but unfortunately, it is not so in many cases.

Is the punishment justified?

Right now, the four boys have been pronounced a RI of four years, but I still wonder whether this punishment is justified. I mean putting these young men behind bars for four years (out of which 20 months they have already put in), is that enough to change everything? The roots of this "evil" are much deeper than they apparently seem. Yes, this punishment does send a signal. In fact, this case is quite a victory in many ways. It is a rare case of "quick justice" in our country. Two years is all it took. The guilty put in jail, the head of the college made to retire compulsorily as a penalizing measure, and a new law made in the State to counter such incidents. Yes, it is justice in many a ways.

Who is responsible?

But, we got to look deeper. What is causing the youth to be so insensitive, so aggressive, so violent? Who is actually responsible for such reckless behavior which results in such a suffering for many?

As parents, we tell our children to give back to whosoever hits them. We assume that the scuffle he had in school was some childish act. We ignore our child's complaint if someone irritates him, or teases him in the class. Same thing happens when our adult, college-going or hosteler son tells us about the problems he is facing. We tend to just blow them off as "teething troubles". And in case a daughter tells her mother about harassment faced in her marital home, she is also advised to "adjust".

Don't you think it is pure weakness on our part, when we choose to ignore what our child is trying to tell us? Of course, jumping the gun each time would be foolish, but in most of the cases, the parents are aware of what is happening to their child, but they choose to remain silent, as if indirectly telling the child to learn to take the hits of life. Of course, we, as parents, are responsible. We must pay heed to the words and the silence in between.

Institutions and Law:

In this case, the Principal of the College is made to leave. Now is it sufficient? He will go, and another unarmed soldier will come to fight the battle. We are aware that "carrot and stick" is required to make people walk the line (which is unfortunate though). So where is the carrot (read: any negative marking for indiscipline)? And where is the stick (any rule of the university, backed by the Law of the State)? In absence of these, expecting a college principal to handle young boys, raw and bubbling with energy, is foolish.

Although, while researching for this post, I saw this report "The Menance of Ragging in Educational Institutions and Measures to Curb It", submitted by the Committee constituted by the country's highest Court, after various ragging cases in the country. It was a huge report, but after reading a few relevant portions, I could understand that laws, to control ragging, exist in various States of the country, but still they are not enforced. The reason could be the lack of will by the institutions. Again, it's the chalta hai (casual) attitude.

Did something go wrong in our upbringing?

When the youth grows on corporal punishment in school, and peer pressure of the stronger or the wealthier classmates; when the youth grows under parental insensitivity; when the youth grows up with porn, with violent computer games, and lack of a role model, he surely, begins to take pride in breaking rules, trying to set his own.

He feels 'macho' when he takes his first beer, or talks filthy with his friends! He feels he is a man now. It is that extended machoism, when a group of students feel it is right to exploit or harass -- physically, mentally and sexually -- another person, who is comparatively weaker than him.

It's time we ask: "Where have we gone wrong?" These last 10 to 15 years especially, we saw how values were given a back seat. They were only limited to the "Value Education" book prescribed to junior classes in public schools. Families only wanted marks and grades. Somewhere, we are to be blamed. We got to look within.

External Discipline Has Ruined Us

How many times have we, as kids, finished our home-work only because the teacher might scold us? How many times have we observed the discipline at our work place, only because our boss might get offended? How many times have we followed the traffic rules, though grudgingly, just because the traffic cop happened to be watching us? We do it all the time, because we've got used to external discipline.

We usually want to know what the penalty would be, if we break a rule, and if it is not much, we can consider breaking rule for fun. Until Delhi Government imposed heavy fines on not wearing helmets on two-wheelers and not tying seat belts in cars or on jumping red lights, we were 'OK' with it. We were ready to shell out that Rs. 100-200 (or whatever it was), but felt the helmet was too much of a pain. We say "Rules are for Fools". This is where we go wrong. And this is the price we pay.

The sense of discipline should be intrinsic. There is a saying which means: "you are what you do when no one is watching!" So, till the time the sense of discipline is not internal, we will keep waiting for that 'stick' to hit us. We will keep waiting for accidents to happen, to improve ourselves. It is really very important to inculcate self-discipline in children. Let them be self driven, let them decide their path. Parents need to be the guiding lights for them.

I sincerely hope that the youth of the country would try to understand that crushing somebody weaker than you is not machoism. And parents should understand that boys also need to cry, and that you should give them your open arms when they need you. Listen to your child's words, and more importantly, his or her silence.

Picture Credits: Google Images

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