The Crotchet’s Corner

My perspective about all things inconsequential

Hey, you, Fresher !!!

“You, fresher, come here,” bellows a voice as you timidly enter the college gate for the first time. Your toes curl, your blood curdles, and your knees quake, as you glance anxiously in the direction of that unfriendly voice.


You have arrived. Welcome to college!!!


The fear of being ragged reaches fever pitch as opening day approaches, and hundreds of thousands of kids dread the first few days/weeks of college life.


Ragging has been around for decades, and despite the best of intent and laws being enacted to ban this practice, will still continue to exist.


Speak to anyone who has been ragged and you will hear a broad spectrum of reactions and views.


There are many who defend the practice stating that, in its mildest form, ragging toughens up a kid and makes him into a man. It is meant to be a process of evolution from a sheltered existence to the harsh realities of the environment.


But, the way it is done can be extremely harrowing for the newcomer.


Day scholars get ragged. But, those who live in hostels face an ordeal that can be much worse.


I studied in one of the country’s best colleges, one that had a phenomenal reputation for quality education. It, however, had one of the most notorious hostels. I lived there for a year – my final year in college. On my first day in the hostel, a “senior”, unaware that I was also one like him, hollered out to me, but backed off when informed by others that I was also a “senior”.


Sure, this happened several years ago, but I do not recall seeing the hostel rector show up even once in the first month.


What I witnessed there was mild compared to some of the narratives I had heard. Many are the horror stories of what went on in Engineering and Medical colleges all over the country. One has heard of freshers being asked to walk into mortuaries at night, or being made to “volunteer” as guinea pigs for “scientific experiments”. Tales of sadistic brutality, and mental and physical torture.


The attitude was one of being subjected to ragging in one year and gaining revenge in subsequent years. Being macho, being seemingly superior. And, this was prevalent irrespective of whether you were from some small town or a product of one of those elitist public schools. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to make a differentiation here – it’s just that there is a perception that only certain types of guys indulge in this.


Being asked to climb up a tree, while dressed in your underwear, and polishing the leaves while singing a vulgar song in vernacular is mild, and can be amusing and entertaining if you look at the funny side of things. It is also comparatively clean. Being asked to stay awake for several nights and clean the rooms and wash clothes of “seniors” is menial, but is not as bad.


But, when things degenerate into physical torture and mental agony, things begin to get out of hand. When sexual harassment is added to the equation, trouble is around the corner.


One has read of students escaping from college, some going insane, and, worse, some others committing suicide.


Educational institutions have, for long, spoken about clamping down on ragging. If this actually happens, then it’s fine. The problem is that students often hesitate to speak out about what happens for fear of being at the receiving end of reprisals.


Mild ragging is fine, but the question is about where one draws the line. Legislation to ban this scourge is appropriate and necessary, but what is crucially of essence is a mechanism that can monitor and control these unsavory practices.


If you have to transform a kid into an adult, surely there are other and better ways!!!


Think about this : a bully who relishes ragging freshers, graduates from college and enters the business world or government service; perhaps the armed forces or the police. What is his attitude going to be? It’s scary.


March 30, 2009 - Posted by | About this and that | , ,

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