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I Am A FRESHER But, You Cannot RAG Me

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By Mahitha Kasireddi:

It’s that time of the year again when all the second year students in the country are for sure waiting for the freshmen to arrive.

Each of us might have had a common experience of being freshmen on campus-excitement, anxiousness, and expectations. After being caged in the intermediate colleges for two years, where we study like never before to crack the entrance exams, it is obvious to feel as if wings are emerging from the shoulders as we look forward to join a graduation college. The most expected development to take place is to have great interactions with the earlier batches. Off course, they are the ones who will talk all ills and odds about the college, update us with rumours, college past happenings, college traditions etc.

But if you are fresher let me tell you that college may not always mean fun and happiness. It gives you new fears, sleepless nights, anxiety disorders and kills your confidence totally. Yes, I am talking about the infamous social hierarchy, ragging.

How many of you are excited about ragging? Did anyone tell you that ragging is fun part of college? If yes, then don’t believe them! They are the most hypocritical human beings living in the society who never fought for their self respect and bowed in front of people who were neither intellectuals nor learned scholars but after all sophomores.

Those beautiful first days of your college life will be ruined by these fears which will constantly make you conscious of stalking eyes of the sophomores. Within no time and without your knowledge you will become a victim of psychological torture and suffer mental stress.

I bet you. After your very first interaction with a senior student you suffer an ego hit. The confidence with which you move a new environment will be replaced by a phobia. The most disadvantageous in this phenomenon are those who travel far to join colleges and stay in hostels. For some of them it would the first time staying far from home. Such students already facing difficulty in adjusting to the food and environment would be repeatedly assaulted.

Let me tell you that even a mere sarcastic look at you comes under a ragging act. This is how ragging is defined- “An act that violates or is perceived to violate an individual student’s dignity. It involves insult (simple as suggestive sexual, sarcastic or even physical)”. I was scrolling though the Wikipedia and to my surprise I found that popular celebrities like Amitabh Bachchan, Imtiaz Ali and Arjun Rampal have confessed their harrowing ragging stories to the media.

When I joined college I travelled all the way from Hyderabad to Tirupati. I stayed in the campus hostel which was the main reason for opting for the college. It won’t give me the satisfaction of telling if I share my ragging story here. I will write about it one day. But the undesirable mental disturbance I went through was horrible and beyond explanation.

I wanted to cry out and express my sorrow but nobody was ready to listen. I was suggested to take it positively. But if you are human being who would not compromise on your self-respect and ego you would understand what I had undergone. I had my own reasons for not fighting back which off course cannot be excuses but reality is that I succumbed and never fought back.

Our college took its own measures to curb ragging activities. Freshers would be lodged in separate hostel blocks. Lecturers were always supportive and pampered the newbies on campus. They made sure we were able to overcome the starting difficulties. Despite these measures, ragging was still prevalent and never came to their knowledge. Whose mistake was it? Definitely it is the victim at fault who does not speak up. Mine was a girls’ college and in such colleges ragging will always exist at a serious level.

Your question would be whether I ragged my juniors. No, it is not necessary that if my seniors rag me I should rag my juniors. This is the notion which every student carries in mind. A second year student feels like it is his/her right to carry on the barbarous tradition which will not win him/her any credits. You will only be an offender of violating human rights on endorsing the activity.

During my second year there were many incidents of ragging reported in the state and the police of Tirupati held counselling campaigns on ragging. The DSP came to our college and in his marvellous speech we came to know some really important and unknown facts.

The DSP explained that every crime has three pillars- The offender, the victim and the witness. The law courts in the world, all work based on evidences. The witness plays a condemnable role of a prima facie of any criminal case. But the story is different when it comes to ragging. Under the ragging act, there are only two factors to be considered by law, which are: the offender and the victim. The court goes by whatever the victim claims. The victim’s statements itself are taken as witnesses which is enough for punishing the offenders.

If anybody asks for an epitome of a ragging incident a blatant mention of Aman Kachroo’s case is made. It happened in 2009. This was the incident which horrified the whole nation and called upon the leaders and judiciary bodies to act upon. It was in the wake of this mishap that the UGC passed regulations on curbing ragging.
Under the Indian Penal Code a separate section is dedicated to ragging which makes it obligatory for every educational institution to officially file a First Information Report within 24 hours of the incident. Thus Ragging is declared a serious criminal offence.
In spite of these positive developments ragging incidents have not stopped from being reported. Every year fresh cases pop up. The main reason is that the “raggers” are in the first place confident that their parents will not have any knowledge of their acts. The reason why 90 percent of victims don’t fight is because it is not considered as a serious problem. If anybody wishes to talk about their ragging experience which displeases them, please pay patient attention to their agony instead of giving unsolicited advices to forget or taking it easy.

India has several prestigious and reputed institutions like the IITs, IIITs, NITs, various deemed to be universities and top medical colleges. Colleges are the place where secularism is most celebrated. It is ironical that people who access to the top resources in the country have least humanity and courtesy. These top colleges have been in news a number of times in connection with ragging.

Don’t give me the old conventional statement that ragging is a way of welcoming newbies into the college. When a collective interest is involved and after witnessing 30-31 deaths from the past 7 years I see that ragging is no more fun. The students can make use of the RTI without revealing their identity. Sample RTI applications have been displayed for the students benefit in various anti ragging websites.

Why to be scared to fight? You should report if you feel offended at the very first time. Uprooting the sapling is easier that cutting down a fully grown tree. The laws, committees, institutions will all be in your favour. Your identity will not be revealed which is an obligation by law. You will be the inspiration to many other untold stories.

And to the sophomores, nothing more is left to tell.

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  1. Poop

    Now bend over and clean my shoes while I beat you with a cane.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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