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Ragging – Right and Wrong

I read the news about the ragging death of an young student Aman who died on Sunday after being ragged & allegedly beaten up by few seniors at a Medical college in the state of Himachal Pradesh, India.

The news infuriates me.

Father of the ragging victim

Father of the ragging victim at sons cremation

Why is this important? After all, we hear many such stories. Sure, it is a tragedy and we sympathize with the father and all that. Is there anything new in this story? What can we do? We have to express our grief and move on to the next news or blog. In fact, this incident is just another statistical piece of information. No, I am not being cynical, I am only expressing the real sentiments of practical people.

So, is there anything profound that yet-another-blogger can add to this news? Maybe, one can try.

The ragging tragedy is not news to me, and such tragedies have infuriated me, for the past 15 years, every time. Not one degree less. I have been bringing up this topic with educated social circles, especially among graduating students who are the future of this country – in my attempt to see their reaction. That helps me understand where we are heading, in terms of finding solutions to our problems.

The shocking reality is – there is a vast majority of them, educated brilliant students, who cannot unconditionally condemn ragging. Usually the reaction is along the lines of “ragging is fun” but they admit that “sometimes” it gets out of control. They would assure that ragging has some benefits (such as preparing students to “fit in to” the real world etc – Nonsense!) in spite of such tragedies. Eventually the consensus would be “harmless ragging” should be acceptable.

That phrase “harmless acts” is not exclusive to ragging. Expanding into other social issues, one could easily gather phrases such as “noble dictator“, “reasonable superstition“, “socially religious” etc. What is going on here? When we cannot get ourselves to admit that something is totally, unconditionally wrong, we invent phrases such as these! Instead of sincerely thinking through and making a clear decision, we cower. Cringe. Grovel. Shame!

Three years ago, I helped a young bachelor student to stay with me in Bangalore, because he was very upset with the ragging in his college hostel in Hosur (Tamil Nadu state, India). In the cold early morning, I dropped him at his college in my motor-bike, and then came back all the way to my work at Bangalore. I was not able to completely address his situation other than asking him “to adjust”. After a few weeks, I had to leave Bangalore. I told him that he should not give up his self-respect nor his individual rights at any cost. Few months later, I heard that he quit his college and went back to the little town where we both came from. Of course, the news was devastating to me.

Months passed by and he managed to get admission into a college in UK. The very same person who could not handle the college environment nearby home, moved to UK and survived there without any family/friends to help him “fit in to” the real world! He is now a software engineer at a respectable firm. I was very happy for him and I felt ashamed for all of us!

The easy point is: Ragging is morally wrong. No ifs & buts. It is just wrong.

The difficult reality to take home is: Just like our graduated students, in their denial mode, failing to admit the above point, there are many other social issues where our intelligentsia comes up with lame excuses, under the guise of many “isms” (moral relativism, post-modernism etc). Coating the nonsensical ideas with intellectual terms does not make them respectable. A spade is a spade is a spade.

Looking back, there has to be a reason for the denial by students. It is because, like every other tribe, students tend to protect their student-group. Between “my group” and “justice” – barring few exceptional people, the choice is always “my group“. How sad! But, why should one feel the need to protect the group? After all, we are only talking about condemning injustice. It is almost always along the lines of “You don’t understand the student psychology. It is not that bad. (It’s only a little less bad?) Not all colleges are as bad as this etc.” In other words, you don’t understand the “group” Or, a fear that others are “showing the group in bad light!

In every social problem, the discussions go in circles because of fear as stated above. Or, to be precise – lack of trust. When someone condemns or attacks an evil practice, is it better to come out clean and join hands to fight against the evil OR to cower, cringe and grovel due to fear & lack of trust at others?!

Written by Vikadakavi

An Engineer-cum-Artist, Vikadakavi works towards the overlap of Science & Arts to serve humanity.