By Dr. Vineeth S: Ragging in its many forms has persistently existed in college for decades. The ice-breaker by seniors used to be a cherished experience that evoked nostalgic feelings long after college life. The tough ‘seniors' asking juniors to sing a song or do mimicry were the common harmless methods employed. But somewhere down the lane ragging has acquired an ugly form which includes harassment and physical abuse.

The idea of plainly restricting the interaction of seniors with juniors would go against the very idea of the word ‘campus.' The way students behave on campus can in many ways be attributed to the learning practices in school. The competitive school environment churns out students who want to win. The seniors try to ‘win' over the juniors through these coercive methods.

The children must be taught right from school the art of cooperation. The strict rule-based schools provide children with very little time to learn social skills. There are several schools that do not allow interaction even during recess. The child feels like an imprisoned bird who does not know how to spread its wings. This complete lack of social skills is a primary reason for students to become both aggressors and sufferers in college. The cocktail of risk-taking behaviour inherent in youth and freedom from home leads the youth into an imaginary world where they try out extreme experiments with their life and that of others. The reconnecting of college students with parents through regular feedback of their endeavours will help them regain the control in their lives.

Ragging is a social evil that requires a transformation of campus in addition to legislative measures. A look at the profile of the students involved in the highly cruel cases of ragging shows that in one way they are also ‘sufferers.' The pressure of syllabus, the disconnect with the real life, peer pressure of being a ‘macho,' the penchant for materialism — all these drive these youths to vent their frustration on the innocent freshmen. To identify these students who suffer from psychological, social and academic pressures is necessary so that they don't target the juniors. A humanistic point of view would be to give them “social services” and “behavioural counselling” as the initial corrective measures, rather than locking them up in jail. The method of introduction of seniors to juniors through cultural activities, campus festivals, and intercollegiate meets will create common goals for college students to cooperate effectively.

In colleges in the West, where people of diverse background come as on our campuses, they sensitise the students to the campus life systematically. The students, in the presence of the college staff, are introduced to mock sessions in a less charged environment.

Thus, the students get a feel of what to expect and also to frame a suitable response. Another area that requires the utmost consideration is the awareness of ragging among the freshers. The newcomers need to be taught the ways of tackling the ugly forms of ragging. A dedicated helpline and anti-ragging squads will be a great relief to the freshers who often come from great distances to fulfil their dreams.

(The writer is a freelancer and medical practitioner. His email: drvineeths@