Written by – Anshal Dhiman
Ragging in the modern sense has a very negative meaning, but initially ragging simply meant interaction between juniors and seniors in colleges or other such educational institutions. The term, which originated in the west, has gone through a drastic change in practice. Ragging can be informally described as any act by which a person makes another person, usually an academic junior, to do or perform any act which is likely to cause embarrassment, or puts fear in the mind of the other person, or makes any gestures or speaks words that are likely to cause mental or physical trauma to another person. Ragging has become a culture in the modern world, especially in the South Asian countries. Seniors take it upon themselves to make life of incoming juniors miserable. But the problem is it does not just stop at that. Practice of ragging can at time lead to harassment of juniors whether it be physical, mental, financial or in any other form. Ragging has also lead to severe injuries, even death in some cases. Reports have found that in most of these cases use of alcohol. The practice of ragging involves serious violations of human rights.
Reading about cases involving ragging makes it very clear that legal intervention is necessary. However, as ragging mostly involves students, the governments had been reluctant to make ragging a penal crime in the beginning. . India has made some progress in regulating ragging, but like most other crimes, most cases of ragging go unreported because of several reasons. India officially started to recognize ragging in the 1990s, but most of the regulations were made and developed in the 21st century. Many students from various institutions have risen up and made their grief public while some organizations have also been set up to listen to the needs of the students, and majorly to prevent them any sort of harassment from seniors. National Anti-Ragging Helpline was set up in 2009, following a Supreme Court order, but the helpline did not really emerge as a success, as it was reported that only 0.1% of the total calls were registered by the helpline. The Supreme Court of India in 2001 gave an important judgment in Vishwa Jagriti Mission vs. Central government, where it recognized the upward going trend of ragging in India and issues guidelines to universities and governments. Centrally there are two major laws that deal with ragging; the IPC and UGC Regulations On Curbing The Menace Of Ragging In Higher Educational Institutions, 2009. Some universities have their own policies related to ragging. State governments also have the capacity to make laws related to ragging on their own, which was also appreciated by the Supreme Court in the abovementioned judgment. Tamil Nadu was the first state in the country to have its own ragging law, followed by Maharashtra. Currently 12 Indian states have ragging laws of their own. Under the IPC a person can be charged under various section depending on the degree and the way of ragging committed by them. The strong stand of the Supreme Court of India acts as a major boost for the students and for the authorities trying to prevent ragging in India.
Although steps have been taken by governments and universities to take control of ragging, the practice still continues and juniors are still harassed in universities. Many people are even scared of going into colleges, especially the ones who have to stay in hostels, after hearing ragging stories. The law can only control so much. At the end it comes down to the students to promote a positive culture and to help new students get along so that India develops with the new generation, and does not go down.