[Reader-list] Pune Indian Express: A savious for ragging victims

shivam zest_india at yahoo.co.in
Wed Jun 30 14:02:16 IST 2004

  Here’s a saviour in case you are a victim of ragging

  A tough stand taken by the ILS Law College
authorities last year, wherein 26 students were
expelled for ragging their juniors, may just deter
studeA tough stand taken by the ILS Law College
authorities last year, wherein 26 students were
expelled for ragging their juniors, may just deter
students from indulging in it, but just in case... 
  By Vinita Deshmukh in Pune
  The Indian Express / 29 June 2004

WHEN the academic session opened, this time last year,
no one expected a high drama, that was to take not
only the educational campuses by shock, but the entire
Pune as well. 

Just to recall, 26 senior students - 16 in one
incident and 10 in another, indulged in ragging,
wherein they forced the freshers to perform some
‘indecent’ acts. Acting on a complaint by the victims,
the ILS Law College authorities, with Principal
Vaijayanti Joshi at the helm, took an iron stand.
Backing her was the entire educational fraternity,
citizens and several political and apolitical
organisations. The result: all of them were not only
expelled from the college but have also been debarred
from seeking admission there for a certain time

It’s time again for a new academic year and although
Pune does not have the dubious distinction of ragging
incidents that have surfaced, except the last year’s,
there maybe some that never see the light of the day
because victims are afraid to come out with a
complaint. They’d rather suffer the mental and
sometimes even physical agony rather than face more
wrath from their seniors. This is henious crime since
it can adversely affect or even wreck a teenager,
psychologically. No wonder, the Supreme Court has
given a terse ruling over this issue. 

This year, help comes quietly through the very handy
mode called the internet, which most of Pune students
are very familiar with. After all, Pune has a very
high number of PC users. Called the Society for
People’s Action, Change and Enforcement (PACE) - a
non-profit organisation has taken up a human rights
initiative and formed an Anti-Ragging Cell. The maiden
objective of the cell, is to eliminate ragging from
educational institutions. 

It is running a nationwide ‘Stop Ragging Campaign’ in
a unique way, by inviting any student anywhere in the
country to participate in this mission, through
several ways. Firstly, note its address: You can post
a message by becoming a member - it could be a
complaint if you or your friend is a victim of ragging
and yes you can do it anonymously too - at:
anti-ragging at yahoogroups.com.Or call up the secretary
of PACE, Sachin Agarwal on 0-94152-55042. 

Its ultimate goal is to set up a permanant monitoring
and advocacy institution to ensure the implementation
of anti-ragging laws, provide ragging victims with
legal and psychiatric aid, and continue building
public opinion - all of which may sound utopian at the
moment - but atleast someone’s trying, so let’s not be
cynical. And e-discussion groups have know to become
powerful citizen pressure groups. A bright example
being, yahoogroups.com/group/mahadhikar - which is
making waves all over the world, with its Right To
Information campaign. 

Most of the members of this anti-ragging cell are
undergraduates and have been victims of ragging. At
the helm of PACE are prominent people like Magsaysay
awardee Sandeep Pandey, journalist Dr. John Dayal,
noted peace activist, Shabnam Hashmi, former
beauracrat and peace activist, Harsh Mander, IIT
alumnus and US based film maker, Sujit Saraf and Bobby
Ramakant, leading anti-tobacco activist. 

The members of this cell passionately urge that, ‘‘No
matter who you are or where you live, you can
contribute to the cause. If you feel that ragging in
all its forms and manifestations has to be eliminated
in educational institutions, we need you.’’ 

Appealing to collegians to become a volunteer, the
e-discussion group (it’s site is still being
constructed) says that you can become one in several
ways: ‘‘Disseminate information by building public
opinion against ragging, spread the word amongst
students and parents to join the anti-ragging mailing
list, forward mails about this campaign to everyone
you know and post messages about them in themailing
lists, blogs, message boards. Also, post articles or
messages on any ragging that may have taken place
anywhere, in the last five years.’’ 

Say the PACE members, ‘‘Countless suicides, a couple
of murders, and dozens of laws later the practice of
ragging continues in educational institutions in
India. This group is meant to debate, discuss and
disemminate ideas about ragging.’’ Let’s hope every
youngster participates one way or the other to
eradicate this ugly social menace and maybe begin a
similar movement in Pune - after all the city has more
than a lakh students who leave their cosy homes to
pursue their academic goal!

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