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Fright Club

Fright Club

September 17, 2011

Youth means mischief and mischief means ragging. So they say.

This is the admission season for most colleges in India. Young new faces will soon lit the campuses. Many of these young men and women will be staying outside the comfort of their homes for the first time in their lives. They will be shy, a bit scared. Those who have lived in hostels in the past for their competitive preparations might even be confident. However, all of them will be excited about their new journey, but anxious about the first couple of months. 

The reason of their fear is not trivial. It is realistic. It is what has driven many freshers out of their colleges, to a nervous breakdown and even suicide. This is the fear of ragging. While many encourage ragging in the name of initiation, or interaction, it is to be understood that any act driven by negative emotions cannot be justified. In the process of ragging, the ego and false pride of seniors are at stake - the very reason it often gets extremely brutal and violent.

For every serious case that gets picked up by the media, there are probably hundreds of smaller, less dramatic yet equally humiliating incidents which go unreported. Many of these take place subtly in the class rooms, common rooms, bus stops, hostels, sports complexes, and fresher parties. Just like corruption, we have come to accept ragging as part of life. Youth means mischief and mischief means ragging. So they say.

Interestingly, the children who indulge in such behavior are not from the uneducated, ‘unsophisticated’ and misled section of society (like naxalites). By all parameters, children who enter these professional colleges come from a highly privileged section of our society.

In fact, for every one of them, there are at least fifty who drop out of school before writing their board exams, mainly because of the inability of their families to afford their education. Students successful in gaining admittance must have, indeed worked hard to get there. Also, their family circumstances must have permitted them to pursue their studies.

A reasonably well-off family and at least twelve years of formal training are what these students bring along when they enter colleges. And still they exhibit barbarian behaviour at their campuses? Young boys and girls who have absolutely no reason to be angry are exacting their rage on students only a year or two younger.

The ones indulging in such brutal acts may have been victims in their first years of college. Their moral compass is so fragile that even 18 years of a good upbringing and lessons on humanity get shattered by a few months of ragging by their seniors. Maybe there were some problems in their upbringing. Somewhere deep down, their parents, teachers and friends might be responsible.

The victims also have a narrative. A sad one, though. They are incapable to stand up to the assaults of the bullies in the campus. The freshers are not psychologically equipped to deal with such humiliation. Some of them mentally surrender to their fate. Some pack their bags, and leave. Either way they are emotionally damaged for life. A few take the extreme step and commit suicide. That's when we get to know about these incidents and blame both the institutions and the government.

There is another community in the campuses - the most disappointing one

A large number of students belong to this category. Maybe we belong(ed) to this category - the passive onlookers. Youngsters in this category are neither the perpetrators, nor are they victims. They are even seen in coffee shops discussing how essential ragging (or ‘interaction’) is, for the development of the freshers. Then, they sit with the victims and ask them to hide during the rush hours. They are inert to the raggers and indifferent to the ragged. Their inaction emboldens the bully. Their indifference increases the pain of the victim. They are the ones responsible for the very fact that ragging has become a huge problem for colleges in India.

The aggressive bully, the helpless victim, and the indifferent onlooker together constitute the top layer of our younger generation. They are the ones who will be leading the country for the next four decades. Think about it!

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1 Comment

  • Jaai Vipra
    Jaai Vipra
    23.09.11 11:38 AM
    Ragging doesn't happen in my college, and in most Mumbai colleges. They've made very strict rules and they conduct espionage activities. Although the main thing is that students have many better things to do. That's not to say that it does not happen anywhere: it's probably a norm in hostels but I hear it's becoming increasingly difficult to rag someone even in hostels.

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