Ragging? Not any more
Former CBI director R. K. Raghavan explains the Supreme Court order on ragging and its implications
Photo: S.R. Raghunathan
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED R.K. Raghavan
Vinod joined medical college with dreams in his eyes. But the first month of his college life proved to be his last. For he could not bear the torture inflicted on him by his seniors in the name of ragging…
Another youngster joined one of the IITs but left the course half way through because of the mental trauma he underwent every time he was asked to strip ‘just for fun’ by his seniors…
A mother in Andhra Pradesh was so upset by the way her son was ragged that she committed suicide…
Well, these cases are just the tip of the iceberg. But thanks to the recent Supreme Court order, students across the country can now rejoice. The apex court has directed educational institutions to register FIRs against students who indulge in ragging. The order follows the recommendations made by the government-appointed committee on ragging headed by former CBI director R. K. Raghavan.
Raghavan is a happy man today following the SC order. In an interview, Raghavan, who now lives in Chennai, talks about the implications of the ruling and more.
“My appointment to the committee came as a surprise,” says the former cop, who’s currently Advisor (Security) at TCS. “It was a lot of hard work. I don’t think I worked this hard even when I was with the CBI. But I believe this is a social cause that needs to be addressed seriously. The future of students is at stake here.”
How did the committee arrive at the recommendations? “We began our work in early January, completed travelling by March and submitted the report by April. We travelled across 10 States, meeting students, parents, academicians and administrators. We tried to speak to students in confidence and listened to their grievances and views. Then, we came up with the recommendations, which are a reflection of the collective social thought on the issue. Now, it’s for the States to implement them.”
He continues, “Educational institutions cannot suppress such ragging incidents any more. In fact, they have to be more pro-active and help the victims file the FIR,” he says.
“Most of the ragging is physical and sexual, in fact homosexual, in nature. I know many bright kids who drop out of college for fear of being subjected to such humiliating experiences.”
Talking about some of the other recommendations, he says, “We wanted a slight change made in the law incorporating ragging as a specific offence under the Indian Penal Code. We also recommended the setting up of anti-ragging committees at institutional and district levels. Here, I must say the timing of the SC ruling is apt — it has come just before the beginning of the next academic year.”
What happened to the ban on ragging which was imposed in six States in 2001? “Well, obviously nothing much came out of it. I think what was needed was to make somebody take the responsibility. Now, the onus is on educational institutions.”
On the recommendation that there should be a one to two-week time gap between the arrival of freshers and seniors, Raghavan says, “I think the time lag gives freshers the confidence to face the seniors as well as familiarise themselves with the new surroundings.”
The SC order has been hailed by the academic and student fraternities alike.
On the introduction of a ‘mentoring cell’ where senior students and the faculty are involved in protecting freshers, Raghavan says, “I think, a fresher can go to college without fear for he knows there’s somebody he can talk to.”
Asked if ragging is more prevalent in the socially backward classes, he says, “Maybe to some extent. But I think it happens everywhere. And I’ve found that most of the time, the perpetrators are influential and politically connected.”
The next cause he wants to take up? “Traffic management in Chennai. See the number of people, especially the youth, being killed on the roads. In fact, my only regret is I could never be Deputy Commissioner of Police, Traffic. But, I hope to do something about it. The other thing dear to my heart is beautifying every street. With great difficulty, I’ve succeeded in making the street I live on green. But, the rest of the city? Well, I live in hope,” he says with a smile.
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