Bhubaneswar activists campaigning against ragging

Anti-ragging, students bullying

When it comes to ragging, activist Tejeswar Parida believes—‘prevention is better than cure.’ Perturbed over the apparent cases of ragging in Uttar Pradesh’s Etawah and at Veer Surendra Sai University of Technology (VSSUT) in Burla, the Delhi School of Social Works alumnus has launched a campaign against ragging in the City. Be it on social media or in the streets, the campaign aims at making every individual aware of the anti-ragging laws or guidelines.

A mild hazing by the seniors is a common practise across the campuses. And, it is mistakenly or ‘forcefully’ accepted as part of the college culture. Blame it on the institutes’ negligence and reluctance—the campaigners claim often cases of ragging are underreported, even in the City colleges or institutes. “The victims hesitate to lodge complaints as they fear consequences and don’t want to mess up with the college, where they would have to stay for few more years,” claimed Tejeswar, convenor of the campaign. Such attitude or fear prevailing among students catalysed the campaign, co-headed by youth leader Mir Mohammed Ali and social worker Satyabrata Jena.

Last Sunday, students from various institutes, parents and activists took part in a silent prayer at Mahatma Gandhi Park as part of the campaign, ‘Ragging Free Campus Abhiyaan.’ The activists will now conduct anti-ragging workshops, organise Nukkads or street plays and launch a helpline for helping victims. They will also start a website to make students aware of the laws against ragging. The campaign has also been launched on social media. The activists have also sought cooperation from OPECA (Odisha Private Engineering Colleges’ Association).

While States like Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Maharashtra and West Bengal have anti-ragging laws, Odisha lacks in such legislation of its own. “The colleges must conduct extra-curricular activities seriously to divert the attention of students towards creative and productive acts. These activities are not being undertaken seriously by the city colleges or institutes. Much of the bullying starts from the freshers’ programmes. Why can’t the colleges have induction or orientation programmes, organised by teachers, instead of leaving it on students? Moreover, in Odisha, some colleges are under Higher Education Department, while others are affiliated to AICTE, MCI and Department of School and Mass Education. So, we need better inter-departmental coordination to check the menace,” he added.

Eight complaints from Odisha

In the past two months, eight complaints of ragging were registered with UGC from institutes in Odisha, including Biju Patnaik University Of Technology Rourkela, Utkal University, College Of Agriculture, Bhawanipatna, Indira Gandhi Institute Of Technology, Sarang, Madhusudan Law College Cuttack, Institute Of Hotel Management Catering Technology And Applied Nutrition, Govt.medical College, Balangir, College Of Agriculture, Bhawanipatna and VSSUT. Total complaints received in the past seven years from across the country is 4950.

Do you know?

In 2009, the University Grants Commission set up an anti-ragging helpline after the death of 19-year-old Aman Kachroo, a first-year medical student in Himachal Pradesh. The nationwide toll free 24×7 anti ragging helpline 1800-180-5522 is available in 12 languages.

The recommendations made by Raghav Committee, affirmed by Supreme Court, are often ignored by several institutes.

The panel suggested that the school leaving certificate and the character certificate of a student must categorically mention the status of the student in terms of his or her behavioural pattern. It should be mandatory to submit the same at the time of admission at the institute of higher learning.

UGC Regulations on Curbing the Menace of Ragging in Higher Educational Institutions, 2009 states that all colleges will have to make students sign an undertaking that they will not indulge in ragging.