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Get Ahead reader's anti-ragging video
The country is up in arms over two separate ragging incidents that left one teenager dead and another in hospital after a failed suicide attempt.
We invited our readers to comment on ragging in colleges -- in the second part of this series, we publish a few more stories and opinions:
Here's my ragging experience:
I had joined JJ College of Arts & Science, Pudukkottai. On the first day of the college evening, I came for boarding the service bus to the bus stop. My school-cum-college senior caught me and gave me 5 paisa. He asked me to keep it vertical and count the distance of the bus stop from where I was standing to a nearby tea shop.
To count just two leg steps, it took me 15 minutes. And then it passed. Then, another senior asked me to ask the name of a girl standing at the bus stop. I was totally dead. But when I went and asked her name, she understood the situation and forgave me.
Next day, I was caught in the bus. The same senior asked me to ask the driver of the bus whether the bus went to Singapore. The bus was very crowded and I was standing at the end of the bus. Slowly I moved in front asking the standing people to give me side and asked the question to the driver. Everyone laughed at me.
Similarly, they used to keep us busy during free hours in the college and outside.
The useless seniors came to our class and ragged us almost every day. We were supposed to stand when they came to our class and salute them. And we were supposed to always remain standing when they were in the class.
Usually, these useless people would come to our class five minutes after the bell rang for lunch. Our class informed our Head of the Dept. about this. The very next day our HOD came to our class just 10 minutes after the bell rang. And he caught everyone and suspended the seniors who were all in the class.
I was happy to hear this. My HOD was fully supportive and suspended the seniors for their misbehaviour. Not only this... these people ragged my friend also who was my classmate where we all lived in the same street. My friend's brother called those guys and beat them up till they aplogised for their misbehaviour. From that day, none of them came and ragged us. We all were very happy.
-- Sriram, Design Engineer, Pudukkottai
Being the pioneer batch was a blessing to us and no one who could rag us. We all were new and after a simple introduction about ourselves and hobbies etc. we formed a family.
Very soon we were singing and dancing together.
Most of us were freshers ie, with no industrial experience. Those few who were experienced were mature people and they acted like our guardians. One year passed over peacefully and we thought that ragging was not the right way of getting to know each other. Had we been ragged on the very first day we would have been distributed into various gangs.
But surprising amongst us were brave and daring students from engineering background who were feeling butterflies in their bellies. They were all set and ready for the event called RAGGING.
The day came and they were all set for ragging. Chavanni Atthanni dance, artificial marriage, reverse races, hitting each other and some more rude stuff made the environment totally unfriendly and soon we had our youngsters protesting against all of us.
After a lot of boycotts , walk-outs, called-offs, our group of five seniors thought of making the event called RAGGING really a fun-loving event. We soon announced that there will be no ragging from the next day. Instead we gathered juniors and made them do funny and enjoyable things which not only made them feel relaxed but they also felt that it was a right way of amalgamation.
The best way was to make few amongst us participate with the freshers.
A group of 15 seniors and juniors was asked to enact the movie Sholay [Images] with change in genders. So we had Gabbari Devi, Kaali, Sambhi on one side and Basant Singh, Mausaji and the horse 'Dhanwant'. Special dialogues like 'kitni auratey thi?' and 'Basant inn billiyon ke saamne mat naachnaa' made it hilarious act.
Antankshri was the second event where we made one team dance while the other team sang.
Mimicry, one thing which was an inseparable part of my life (and it still is), made me to arrange for a mimicry competition which everyone enjoyed and for me it was a true learning experience.
The event was then followed by quiz contests, treasure hunts, theme based fashion shows and beauty contests.
After a week when we felt it was enough, we concluded by having a dance night in our college ground followed by sumptuous dinner.
It was one of the memorable experiences of my life because it was different from usual and we gained a lot of respect from juniors since those days and as Bryan Adams sings 'Those were the best days of my life'.
-- Varun Shreshth
It was in the year 1997 that I appeared for the seat selection process after getting through the engineering entrance. I had already decided that I wanted to do my engineering in computers as I was interested in anything to do with computers. I looked at the guy on the other side of the table and he gave me a choice to choose between a newly established college little outside Hyderabad or a 20-year old college in Machilipatnam. I chose the latter.
Although I didn't know much about this college called Sri Venkateswara Hindu College of Engineering, Machilipatnam, but since my ancestors were from this place, my father was sure that this would be a good one. And moreover, I had got a B.Tech Computers seat here. I went there in early-1997 and since we didn't have any relatives staying there any more, I was to stay at the Boys Hostel. This was the first time I was going to stay away from my parents for my studies and I had no idea of what I would be going through in the days to come.
When I reached the Boys Hostel with my father, we noticed that it was an old rectangular single-storied structure with a broken gate, an open compound with mud & slush all around and no greenery, buffaloes sitting to welcome us, rooms in all four-directions of the rectangle structure and an open area at the centre of the structure looking at the sky and filled with rain water. It was as if the walls had not been painted for 20 years now and they could fall apart any time. At one corner of the structure, there was a canteen, and in two other corners there were common bathrooms / toilets. There were stairs that would take you up to the terrace that was left open without any walls on any of the four sides.
There was a warden's room, but there wasn't anybody in there. We were informed that he hardly comes there and the students are mostly left for themselves. Somebody informed him at his home that we were here for registering at the hostel and he came after few hours. We filled up the necessary forms and took the keys. When we opened the old door of this single room, all we saw was an old room with broken windows, no fans or tubelights (not even a tubelight holder), switches that were either broken or didn't work, and the smell of wet walls (with water leaking from the ceiling). When we asked the warden for another room, he refused and said all rooms are the same and we had to get the repairs done ourselves (since that is how everybody does it). That day, we got some electrician from the local market to fix the lights, bought a table fan, a table, chair, mattress and blankets. Next day, I got introduced to some of the seniors staying in the hostel and they were all very nice and polite and assured my father that they would take proper care of me. We also visited the college and NIIT [Get Quote] (where I was supposed to do my 2 year course). Rest assured, he boarded the train to Hyderabad that evening.
After I came back to the hostel, I was in for a rude shock. The same people who spoke nicely few hours back were asking me to salute them army-style. I was not sure of what was happening, and so were 20 other freshers standing with me. I was told that this is part of ragging. I asked the guy next to me "What is happening?", and he said, "That's called ragging, what seniors do to juniors and its bad for us. Just do what they ask you to". I got the point. We were told to follow this practice of salute every time we see a senior, be it in hostel or in college or in the bus to college till they ask us to stop. We all did that.
Then followed a series of such things that were both frustrating and ridiculous. Night after night, as soon as we returned from college, one senior would pick some of us like prostitutes and take us to his room. Some of us were asked to write their lab records, their notes or assignments, some were given porn magazines and asked a series of questions, justifying that "We are doing social service to you by educating you and spreading awareness". Some were asked to wash clothes or get food, cigarettes, etc. Some were asked to boil hot water for bath. On one particular night, there was a fight between two seniors (real fists and blows fight) on who should pick one particular junior. That was the craziest thing I had seen till then.
After a few days, on one particular Friday, somebody knocked on our doors at 2:00 am in the morning and woke us up. We were surprised to see all our seniors and some of them drunk. All of us were asked to form a line and walk up to the open terrace. We had no clue what they were upto. As we all reached the terrace, we were asked to stand in a straight line facing them and strip completely. We were all shocked. We pleaded them not to do this. Some of them even cried. But they did not heed to our requests. They warned us that if we did not do what they asked us to, then the consequences would be serious and those people would face even severe ragging. We had no choice but to strip. It was chill cold and we were all shivering. We were asked to dump all our clothes in a single heap and mix them. Then we were asked to stand back in the same line and masturbate. Some of us did not even know what it was as we had never done it before. We were explained and were told that those who complete it can pick their clothes and go back to their rooms. Few did, most did not. After close to 2 hours, we were all asked to go back to our rooms. This ritual continued for many weekends, sometimes even spilling over to weekdays.
I wrote letters back home telling them that I was not interested in studying here as it was demoralizing to study since most of my time is spent in ragging and I was not able to concentrate on my college studies and NIIT syllabus. I never explained in detail what I went through, but my father came couple of times to give me courage, money and set things right. But it was all the same after he left. I blindly followed what they said hoping that some day this would end and I'll get to study. Sometimes, I and few of my friends slipped out of the hostel in the evenings and spent time sitting at the railway station or parks or watching TV in a roadside shop or just walking on the streets.
Some of us even complained to the hostel warden and the caretaker, but that message was passed on to the seniors and those people were called in for some special ragging sessions. During this time, there came one senior who said that he represented the anti-ragging committee of the college and anybody who faced any issue was free to drop by and talk to him. Although he looked a little scary with his beard, he was like god-sent for most of us. He came to each one us and persuaded us to tell if we were harassed. Most of us were too much in a state of shock for the incidents that had been taking place around for few months and couldn't speak about anything and refused to acknowledge, remembering the fate of few people who had complained to the warden. We were told stories of their batchmates who jumped the hostel wall and ran away to their homes unable to bear the ragging inflicted upon them by their seniors and we were made to believe that what was being inflicted upon us was not even a fraction of their suffering. That gave us some temporary hope, but we soon realized that this was the same story told to all batches.
But there was one guy, the only north indian in our entire batch (who also came in a little late and did not go through some of the initial hell), who opened up in front of him. He narrated every single incident he had come across, only to realize that there was no anti-ragging committee at all, and that this senior had played a trick along with others to get a feel of any revolt or mutiny within the freshers. Suddenly, this complainant was the most-hated and most sought-after guy in the entire college and hostel. Almost all the seniors took him to their rooms for 'special' ragging sessions - nobody knew what they did to him. He used to sleep in their rooms sometimes and we saw him only while getting ready for college. Sometimes, he was asked to stay back without going to the college with a bunch of seniors in the hostel. There were also other seniors who stayed in paying guest accommodations outside who came to our hostel and took him away on some occasions. Nobody knew what he went through and he was too frightened to tell anyone of us, but the rumours say that he was sexually exploited. But during all this, the happiest people were all other freshers because the seniors were not bothered about them much, and did not care whether we saluted them or not.
It was about 2 or 3 weeks before the freshers party was supposed to be held when I came to Hyderabad for re-counselling and took another seat in Visakhapatnam [Images] in Electricals & Electronics branch. Although I went through hell during my 4-month stay here, the main reason for my move to Vizag was to get the latest NIIT syllabus (it was outdated here in Machilipatnam) as I had secured a 75% scholarship and didn't want to let it go waste. I don't know what happened thereafter and who got the best fresher or what happened to the north indian guy, but I guess all of them had a happy ending and a good study time. Moreover, I wish none of them took revenge on their juniors by inflicting the same pain that they went through, because I remember one senior telling me that since he had gone through all this, he wanted to do the same to his juniors (us) and he justified it by saying that this is how we all get close -- Raj
I was a student of medicine or rather as people understand it better, MBBS back in '93-94. I have seen ragging inside out. Why do you think ragging is prevalent all over India regardless of region, language and all that. It is simply because the college administration encourages it. Can't you see that. If the seniors do not rag juniors harshly enough then the principal himself reprimands senior in private and says something like 'tumhne in logon ko tameez nahi seekhai'.
It is convenient for the college authorities since it creates a kind of heirarchy. Ask any damn doctor you know in confidence, whether he was ragged, he will tell you the whole story. In my college which was Aligarh Muslim University's JN Medical college , ragging was very mild as compared to other medical colleges. In a medical college publicly being made to strip is very very normal publicly means publicly means on the road.
In encouraging ragging colleges are violating fundamental rights of students and that is a cognizable offence. They are violating several sections of Indian Penal Code and no extra law is needed to tackle this, since this is a criminal offence the police is enought. There should be an antiragging tribunal and an ombudsman in every major city to prevent ragging. Media can play a part in this by doing sting operations. this is very very serious.
-- Anurag Kumar
Circa 1990. It was summer in Hyderabad and time for rejoicing. I had secured a decent rank in the engineering entrance and had all the options in most colleges of AP. The decision finally came down to joining the best college with a hostel facility since my father was about to be transferred out of Hyderabad. Unfortunately, none of the Hyderabad colleges had good hostel facilities and someone suggested the engineering college in Vijayawada which belonged to a very reputed group of colleges. I took my admission and went on to join the college feeling extremely elated about myself. Little did I realise that the next one month was going to scar my life forever.
I distinctly remember the first day I set my foot on the campus. My dad had come along to drop me off and I was wearing my best dress and the brand new watch my dad had gifted me for making it to the engineering college. Dreamy eyed and fascinated by the huge campus, even the dinky hostel room with an asbestos roof looked like a lavish space. We (me and my dad) had barely checked in to the hostel when some seniors swooped in and whisked me away to another vacant room. There were some six other freshers like me in the room and all of us were asked to strip down to our underwears and all of us were asked to introduce ourselves. Then came the shocker, one of the bullies shouted at me "What's your caste?"
I was bought up in a fairly cosmopolitan atmosphere and I do not remember ever discussing caste all my life. The fact of the matter was I did not know my caste till then. When I told my senior very respectfully that I did not know which caste I belonged to, a thundering hand fell on my cheek and I was sprawling on the ground. Another senior came up to me and kicked me in my tummy and growled "Do you think we are a bunch of #!*&^% to believe that you do not know your own caste?" After quite a bit of more physical abuse, I think they were convinced that I really did not know my caste. What was to follow was worse.
One of the seniors asked me to put on my dress, go to my room and ask my Dad which caste we belonged to. I quietly did so and went to my room and asked "Dad, what's our caste?" My dad really looked upset that his 16-year-old son was asking this question and asked "Why do you want to know?" I replied that the seniors are asking me and beat me up since I did not know. My dad contemplated whether to reply to this for a couple of minutes and mumbled "Why does it matter to anyone which caste do we belong to?" I replied "I just don't know, Dad. And they don't even seem to believe that I don't know our caste" After a minute of absolute stillness my dad told me "Son, this is something that I have deliberately not told you or any of your brothers simply because I know what havoc this politics of caste causes and I have seen this happen in our native village. I thought the only way one can be above all these is to stay ignorant of your caste and I don't see how it affects anybody's life. I however see that you are getting physically abused for not knowing what is assumed as common knowledge in our country. Anyways, our caste is _ _ _ _." I could feel the tinge in his voice but at that moment the physical pain that I was enduring and the added fear of the dogs waiting outside to know my caste was far more overpowering and I suppose I missed what my dad was trying to tell me.
Sheer animal survival instincts took over me in the following weeks and I quickly realised that there was a dominant caste which beats up people, gets preferential treatment in the canteen and the mess, have made the playground their monopoly (other castes are not even allowed to enter) and the list was endless. The only way to survive that onslaught was to identify people from your own group (read caste) and at least live jointly in order to reduce the probability of abuse.
Steadily, I began to understand the number of castes that existed in this country and strangely and unconsciously I even started to recognise a person's caste by his/her surname. I completed my engineering in what was definitely not the most exciting student life that I have lived and proceeded to one of the IIMs for further education.
Years rolled by and as I kept witnessing the gruesome caste & religion politics that prevail in our society, I now understand what my dad was trying to tell me that day. Today, I clearly regret knowing not only my caste but also the knowledge of other castes as well. It is one singular piece of information that I somehow hope I can erase from my memory. Now that I have a young toddler, I have sworn to myself that I shall never discuss nor tell my daughter what caste we belong to. I am not too sure though how I would react to those deranged minds who by one degraded act under the guise of ragging have turned the clock back by 35 years -- to the day I was born.
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