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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

For Aman

On tenth of last month, I woke up to a front-page news in The Times of India that shattered my heart. Aman Kachroo, who had passed out of DPS International, Saket, Delhi, and had joined Dr Rajendra Prasad Medical College, Tanda, in Kangra last August, was beaten to death by his seniors. Ragging in colleges and hostels, and even death from ragging was not being reported for the first time, but that this incident should happen in a medical college where only the best and the brightest secure admission and the perpetrators were potential doctors learning to heal, makes Aman’s death more poignant.
Sad, but true, ragging continues because society at large wants it to continue despite legal injunctures. Year after year, precious lives fall prey to ragging, some commit suicide, only a few like Aman are too brutally tortured & murdered, while most are left permanently traumatised, emotionally and psychologically scarred. The extreme cases of ragging are as a result of the perpetrators getting incensed by the protests on the part of the freshers or their refusal to take subjugation lying down. It is as good as vendetta; the psychopathic tendencies raising their ugly heads, as they do in case of sex-offenders in general, who graduate from sexual harassment to gang-rape to lynching. The most important arena of legitimising ragging is the oral passing-on of stories of parents to children, from alumni to students. A practice that teaches one to submit, to be subjugated and humiliated rather than to refuse orders becomes a ritual. It goes by the name of 'hazing' in the U.S., though death on account of hazing is more a rarity. When a student commits suicide, the first response of many is that if hundreds of other students in their same hostel didn't commit suicide, why did this one? The ensuing victim-blaming makes sure ragging survives. The media’s focus on ragging cases rather than the everyday goings-on in hostels also makes sure that the cases are seen as exceptions. The student who drops out, or becomes mentally unstable, or is ostracised by his/her hostel community for complaining are not highlighted. Even the family and peers begin stereotyping them as 'shy' and 'timid'.
As the details kept appearing in the newspapers, and on the new channels on television, I felt like throwing up. Where was the need to sesationalise the events that continued unabated night after night in the name of ragging? Rather, we must immediately start sensitising the youth, even the children, and try to stem out the menace called ragging if we want to take pride in being civil, being human!
Luckily, for the first time, contempt notices are being issued to Principals and the University Grants Commission seems to be waking up from a state of deep slumber. The apathy on the part of the teachers, wardens or even parents cannot continue. We should gauge the significance of the far-reaching consequences of ragging and treat them as criminal offences. We can only hope that the Government will look into the Raghavan Committee’s fifty recommendations and, at the very least, amend the Indian Penal Code to make ragging an offence. The Prevention of the Ragging in Colleges and Institutions Bill, which was introduced in the Rajya Sabha in 2005 is yet to become a law. The Bill makes the offence of ragging punishable with imprisonment up to three years and a fine of Rs 25,000, and empowers the Government to ban ragging in educational institutions. The civil society is not powerless. Deterrence can play a big role. Exemplary punishment of the guilty will make future perpetrators think twice. But more importantly, there should not be a lack of willingness on our part to do our bit to eradicate ragging!

[Info, pics: courtesy - Google, NDTV 24X7, The Times of India]
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Pankaj said...

In Himachal Pradesh, ragging is quite rampant. In many states, ragging is not treated as a grave offence, despite the courts' directives & guidelines.
In America, though hazing continues, it is unheard of in medical schools! Who would expect senior medical students cruelly torturing a fresher? There's another place where it's unthinkable - even in India: the business schools. Most business schools, the venerable IIMs, MDI, and FMS, encourage a unique system of mentring. At Delhi's FMS, each student of the 1st year batch gets a mentor from the senior year who 'hand-holds' him/her throughout the academic session. Mentors help juniors in studies, exams, extra-curriculars, and most importantly, job placements. This relationship can continue even after both have graduated from the business school. At IIMs, the junior batch helps conduct the placements of seniors, making sure the complex process of inviting recruiters on-campus, who then conduct stringent tests and interviews, runs smoothly.
I wonder why medical and engineering schools cannot replicate these relationships.

jaison said...

Will someone answer: How can a student of a medical college die due to a beating, unless there was a deliberate attempt by the college authorities to neglect him after the beating? It seems that the authorities felt that he deserved the beating for daring to speak out against the locals of the area, who dominate the police, the education set up the political set up and the mafia. Locals are supreme.
Aman’s crime was that he dared to speak up against this vicious, corrupt, sick and rotten establishment and paid for his life. He paid for his life because he was from a minority community and an outsider (a Kashmiri Pandit). One of the major tragedies of the Indian polity is that unless you are a major minority and in sizeable numbers you will not get any political support. Such a pity and such a mockery of the ideals of the founding fathers of our constitution.
Nineteen-year-old Aman Kachroo from Gurgaon was a bright student. An alumni of the Delhi Public School, he took admission in Rajendra Prasad Government Medical College, Tanda, in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh and he aspired to be a doctor. Little did he know that he would be brutally ragged and beaten to death by his drunk and perverted seniors: Ajay Verma, Naveen Verma, Abhinav Verma and Mukul Sharma. They had brutally beaten up Aman since he was not a local. He was continuously harrassed and beaten up. He had complained to the college authorities but they took no action. And he was then murdered, the authorities even trying to hush up the case at first. Won't JUSTICE prevail?

Vishesh said...

When Aman succumbed to injuries inflicted on him by his drunken seniors during a ragging session in the hostel on March 8, the college’s anti-ragging committee and its staff were not at all on the list of those sensitised to the menace of ragging. But, hopefully, now the the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development has began work on developing a model for the crisis-centre helpline to enable ragging victims across the country to seek immediate help.
May Aman's soul rest in peace.

abhishek said...

It is such a disturbing phenomenon - the phenomenon of ragging!!!
Though many used to call ragging sessions as the rites of passage, now they should be better termed 'wrongs' of passage!
It's startling for me also the fact that you felt so touched by the deceased person, Aman, whom you never met or have known! It is all about humanistic solidarity, way to go, keep up buddy!

Neeraj said...

I know, Aman wasn't the first casualty..... but may he be the last one! The anti-ragging cells with their online network can surely help redress the plight of the freshers who face indictment otherwise.

Spandan said...

Ragging sucks!!!!!

Every sane individual - young or old must be vocal against it, and only then can we eradicate this evil from our society. From our conscious & sub-conscious terrain!