In July last year, the University Grants Commission (UGC) widened the purview of ragging and stated that bullying a student based on his/her religion, gender, ethnicity or economic background will amount to ragging. Taking a step further, All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has stated that engineering students can be expelled if they are found to rag their peers and mock their caste, ethnicity or sexual orientation, reported Hindustan Times.
The 2016 UGC notification stated:
"Any act of physical or mental abuse (including bullying and exclusion) targeted at another student (fresher or otherwise) on the ground of colour, race, religion, caste, ethnicity, gender (including transgender), sexual orientation, appearance, nationality, regional origins, linguistic identity, place of birth, place of residence or economic background now amounts to ragging."
Taking cognisance of rising discrimination and intolerance on college campuses, the AICTE circular stated that depending on the nature of the offence, a student can be suspended, expelled or lose admission, which will make it difficult for the student to get into any other engineering college in the country, added the report. It should be noted that the AICTE order came eight months after the UGC and there is still a wide gap between the implementation and sensitising the students on campus.
At a time when clashes between student groups have become the norm with them exhibiting very little tolerance to respect each other views and political affiliations, the responsibility of the college administration becomes all the more important to provide a safe and free environment for its students. Colleges in India are supposed have anti-ragging and disciplinary committees in place. Here's what the Delhi University website says:
The University of Mumbai website also includes a circular explaining the online steps that are to be followed to generate anti-ragging affidavits. The circular states that "anti-ragging affidavits are important for the success of the National Ragging Prevention Program, as per the UGC guidelines".
The Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur also lists out the anti-ragging measures and elaborates on the types of abuses and activities will be termed as ragging. Physical abuse, forced activity like chores for seniors, "singing or dancing or performing in any other way" and lifestyle restrictions like "requiring certain modes of address i.e. seniors should be called sir or ma'am".
The UGC order states that if any institution under a university fails to curb ragging effectively, it will be penalised by withdrawal of affiliation or recognition, withholding grants, "prohibiting the institution from presenting any students then undergoing any programme of study therein for the award of any degree/diploma of the university".
Having a preventive and redressal mechanism in place doesn't necessarily curb ragging on campus. The Times of India reported in February that 11 students of the Kalamassery Government Polytechnic College in Kerala were suspended over repeated ragging incidents. A law college in Visakhapatnam suspended its 19 students for allegedly ragging and beating up students on the campus, according to The New Indian Express. In December last year, Hindustan Times reported that two students in Kerala were hospitalised in a brutal case of ragging.
In the last few days, debate over campus activism and freedom of expression dominated the news headlines, while safety of students were compromised. Following the UGC prescribed guidelines are not enough to curb ragging, it is the responsibility of the colleges and universities to provide an environment that encourages unbiased dialogue on gender and caste sensitisation.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Mar 08, 2017 13:34 PM