[Reader-list] ragging

Asthana, Rahul Rahul.Asthana at CIBC.com
Mon Jun 28 21:35:28 IST 2004

Adding to what Shivam and Anand have said, the Abu Gharaib brand of ragging
is the rule rather than the exception,in most of the parts of North India(I
cannot talk about other parts because I dont know).
I wonder though, why the cracking up of students is the exception rather
than the rule.
Bad things do happen to people, but they are few and far between, and most
probably most of the students turn out pretty much O.K.Now as I read my last
sentence,it seems to me I am making an assumption. So,there needs to be some
investigation\study\debate on how this sort of abuse manifests itself in the
behaviour of people.One obvious manifestation is in the abused becoming the
abuser.But this does not always happen.Reasonable individuals, who have gone
through inhuman ragging,do manage to maintain their sense of what is wrong
and what is right, when they become seniors.Besides the obvious physical
hurt and vindictiveness, I would like to know what are the other, more
subtle,repurcussions of ragging.

Second thing which I am interested in is the motivation of the raggers; of
course it is a statement of authority and the follow up of tradition,but
again, as far as my observation goes,such raggers comprise of a few students
among the class.So it would be interesting to figure out how they become
what they are.Feelings of insecurity,turbulent childhood,unstable family
life,social\economic background are some of the reasons which come to my

Thirdly,how do we prevent ragging?Will making laws solve it?I doubt.Unless
the belief is cultivated that such kind of ragging 
is morally wrong, laws wont make any differece.The conscience wont
interfere.This brings me back to my first point-a thorough investigation on
the more subtle repurcussions of ragging is needed.Also, the media has to be
more vigilant.The more such type of horror stories come out, the more people
will realize that how natural is the comparison to Abu Gharaib and more
apathy would be developed towards ragging.

Fourthly,what are the support mechanisms in place for the abused?Here I am
taking more about counselling ,rather than legal. While the abused might be
afraid to seek support from law or from any other authority, some
institutional counselling  support where they can seek help without having
any questions asked might be valuable to them.Furthermore, I think the
raggers too need counselling here,much more than the ragged.

-----Original Message-----
From: reader-list-bounces at sarai.net
[mailto:reader-list-bounces at sarai.net]On Behalf Of shivam
Sent: Monday, June 28, 2004 10:23 AM
To: reader-list at sarai.net
Subject: Re: [Reader-list] ragging

We are not the only one comparing ragging with Abu
Ghraib, editor Vir Sanghvi also did it in his column
in the HT:

  Those Iraqi PoW Photos 
  By Vir Sanghvi
  Hindustan Times / 8 May 2004


The overall impression is not - as some of the more
hysterical commentators have suggested - one of a
torture chamber. Instead, it is of sadistic ragging at
some primitive hostel from hell. The Americans know
that they are the bosses. They know that they can do
what they like. And they know that there is nothing
that the Iraqis can do to defend themselves.

Like all sadistic ragging - it is pointless, has a
strong sexual component and is finally, nothing more
than an expression of power.

o o o o o 

A Mask Called Ragging

Institution: MNREC, Allahbad
Years: 1988-92
Author: requests anonymity
Written in June 2004

I have seen very ugly face of ragging and feel that it
should stopped
at any cost. Small instances lead to bigger ones and
we realise it
very late.

To illustrate, a fresher at MNREC Allahabad was ask to
ride a buffalo
by the seniors. The fresher mounted the buffalo but
was scared and
tensed. It was all happening as a joke but suddenly
the fresher
panicked and fell from the buffalo. He fell on his
head and died of

I feel that while media limelight controls excesses in
major cities,
what happens in smaller places just goes unnoticed.

I have studied in MNREC, Allahabad (now NIT). I
pursued my Mechanical
Engineering in 1988-1992.

MNREC (it was then - I do not know what happens now!)
had a very
strong tradition (?) of ragging of all kinds.

It all started on day one.

Boys were to wear white shirt, white pants, black
shoes. The buttons
of the white shirt were to be black while the third
button had to be
red. The student was to always look at the red button
while walking
or talking. Girls were to wear white salwar kameez,
black shoes,
oiled hair and red ribbons. And all this for 3
continuous months.
When we met any senior, anywhere, we had to bend down,
at 90 degrees
to show them respect. Not doing so meant that we were
being rude and
it led to numerous slaps and kicks.

Through out the three months, we were ragged
continuously. Going to
classes or coming back was a terrifying experience. I
was from the
hills. The year before I joined, the guys from hills
and meerut had a
huge gang fight so any senior from meerut, on asking
where I was from
and on me telling that I was from hills, would just
slap me and walk
by. Same was the fate of all the guys from hills.
Likewise, seniors
from hills were slapping juniors from meerut.

Stripping, making juniors act out vulgar postures and
gestures, dirty
talks about ones sisters, slapping, kicking... it was
all so common.
I hated every moment of it but worst was yet to come.

Towards the end of ragging, we had something called
mass ragging. On
that day, seniors (2nd year), all masked, would raid
the junior
hostel with iron rods and hockey sticks in their
hands. They would
randomly bang the door and kick them open and hit the
juniors very
badly. It was not so random though, selective targets
mercilessly beaten up. Seniors from our hometown had
told us about
this so we fought tooth and nail to keep the door
closed. Others too
did the same but not all were so lucky.

When we came to second year, we banned mass ragging.
As we did not do
it to our juniors, they in turn did not do the same
for their
juniors. But when we were in final year, we had a
surprise in store
for us. The then second year had planned out mass
ragging. This was a
small group of 15-20 guys who stormed the junior
hostel. Unlike our
seniors, no one had told the fresh batch about mass
ragging. It was
assumed that the tradition, if we choose to call it
so, was dead. So
the juniors were completely taken by surprise when the
seniors came
banging their doors. They did not know who had
suddenly come in,
masked, and was hitting people ruthlessly. The juniors
panicked and
started running for shelter. A few of them jumped from
the first
floor and broke their bones. The saddest was a young
boy from Assam
who jumped from the second floor and broke his neck.
He died

The guys who conducted this mass ragging were not
aware of this
incident. They collected all the juniors, over 200
students, asked
them to strip and got them over to the main hostel
area. As they were
passing through the final year hostel, we saw the them
immediately went to rescue the juniors. Meanwhile, a
saner minds in
2nd year went to the junior hostel to calm down the
panicking juniors
only to find a guy with a broken neck. As some of us
took the boy to
the hospital, others started searching for the guys
responsible for
this incident. We had a tough time but eventually we
caught hold of
most of them, except for the kingpin.

Next day, we asked college authorities to take
disciplinary action
against these students and also report the matter to
the police and
lodge an FIR. The authorities were not too keen to do
so. Somehow,
the faculty always had 'the college reputation will
suffer' argument
ready. The same thing had happened when a police cop
had tried to
rape a student. The faculty refused to act. So much so
that they had
the guts to say, 'the ants will come in where there is
sugar'. The
enraged students had to then take law in their own
hands and force
the college and the police to take action. The boy who
broke his neck
died after a few days. His parents were still thanking
the students
of our college for helping them out at the hospital,
donating blood.
etc. It was a sad and shocking moment in our lives,
not knowing how
to respond.

For this incident one student was permanently
rusticated from college
while two others were rusticated for 2 years. Some 5
more students
were chucked out from the hostel. But that's about it!
It was murder
but the murderers walked away, without any punishment
by law. The
rusticated students must have joined some other
college, finished
graduation and must be working somewhere now. Maybe
they are
government official, businessmen or private sector
executives. The
irony would be to find one of them in some police
station as an SHO.
I wonder if they still remember this... and will they
ever tell this
to their wives and children!

While a slap in a metro college gets reported, murders
in smaller
cities go unnoticed. I have heard of numerous such
incidents in the
engineering colleges of Lucknow, Gorakhpur, Pantnagar,
Kanpur. I have
heard of such incidents even in IIT kanpur - though
they used to
focus more on mental torture than physical - proving
that that the
new joinee is a scum and that a sub-standard student
has joined IIT
only by chance. But when I was studying at IIT Bombay,
I did not
witness much of ragging incidents. Physical ragging
was almost not
there. It was more so because student volunteer groups
were actively
working towards not letting any such incidents happen.

When I was in first year, I thought I will never rag
when I become a
senior. In my second year, I avoided ragging in
general. I just
quizzed the juniors and after half an hour of quizzing
got in
friendly terms with them and tried to help them
thereafter. But I
guess people are right when they say - 'power
corrupts'. I felt that
a junior from my hometown was quite slow - slow in
thinking, slow in
responding. I felt he was low on self esteem too. I
was getting
irritated with him. After much talking when no results
came, I
suddenly lost my cool and slapped him. I did not know
how it
happened... the junior never talked to me ever since.
Later on I got
to know that he nourished a dream of bashing me up. I
wondered what
to do, I somehow saw no solution in front of me so
decided to let
things be as they are and let time take its own
course. We never met
after that! I wonder what his reaction would be if we
ever met again.

--- TARAN KHAN <133344 at soas.ac.uk> wrote:
> quote from newspaper report that was part of the
> message sent by shivam
> ---
> "Students all over India continue to leave their
> colleges, destroy their careers, turn to drug abuse,
> suffer from post-traumatic stress disorders because
> of
> ragging. There are about 415 universities in India
> and
> thousands of hostels, many of which look like mini
> Abu
> Ghraibs" says Agarwal.
> -
> Mini Abu-Ghraibs? Are you sure? Are you REALLY sure
> you want to say this?
> taran
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