It has been
rightly said that the end may not always justify the means. Behind
the façade of ‘welcoming’ new students to college, ragging, in
actuality, is a notorious practice wherein the senior students get
an excuse to harass their junior counterparts, and more often than
not, make them easy targets to satiate their own perverse sadistic
pleasures. Apart from sustaining grievous physical injuries, those
unfortunate students who succumb to ragging either develop a fear
psychosis that haunts them throughout their lives, or worse, quit
their college education even before it begins. For any student who
slogs day and night to secure admission into a prestigious
college, ragging can be his or her worst nightmare come true. It
would not be an exaggeration to say that, today, ragging has taken
the shape of a serious human rights violation with even the most
respected and disciplined educational institutes falling prey to
In common parlance, ragging means playing practical jokes on
somebody or teaching someone a lesson. According to the Chambers
Ragging is an
outburst of organized horseplay, usually in defiance of
authority, riotous festivity, especially of under-graduates in
Universities, associated with the raising of money for charity.
the Reader’s Digest Great Encyclopedia Dictionary,
means a noisy disorderly conduct, annual parade of students in
fancy dress to collect money for charity, playing rough jokes, or
into wild disorder a person’s room etc."
Supreme Court of India perhaps has given a more comprehensive
meaning of ragging as under:
"Ragging is any disorderly conduct, whether by words spoken or
by an act which has the effect of teasing, treating or handling
rudeness any student, indulging in rowdy or indisciplined
which cause or are likely to cause annoyance, hardship or
harm or to raise fear or apprehension thereof in a fresher or a
student and which has the effect of causing or generating a sense
or embarrassment so as to adversely affect the psyche of a fresher
Origin Of Ragging
Today, ragging may have become deep rooted in the Indian
educational set up, but many would be surprised to know that
ragging is originally a western concept. Ragging is supposed to
have its creation in certain European Universities where seniors
played practical jokes at the time of welcoming freshmen to the
institutions. Gradually, the practice of ragging became popular
throughout the world. However, with time, ragging assumed
obnoxious and harmful connotations and was severely condemned.
Today, almost all countries of the world have enacted stern laws
that ban ragging and it has been completely eradicated in
countries such as Canada and Japan. But sadly, India, which
inherited ragging as a legacy from the British Raj, has not been
able to free itself from the clutches of this inhuman practice. It
can be said, without any room for doubt, that the worst form of
ragging is committed in India. Infact, according to a research
conducted by CURE , India and Sri Lanka are the only two countries
in the world where ragging exists.
Forms Of Ragging: From Bad To Worse
It is said that man’s imagination knows no bounds. Very true, but
when it comes to ragging, it can be rightly said that man’s
perverted imagination too knows no bounds! From what was intended
to provide good humour and harmless fun to students, ragging today
has assumed torturous, vulgar and inhuman forms that defy all
norms of decency and morality. Some of the most popular forms of
ragging in colleges are:
The freshmen are asked to dress in a specific dress code for a
particular period of time. But this isn’t as easy as it seems. For
the dress code prescribed is generally weird, eg., dressing totally in white or black with the
hair oiled and combed in a particular style. The dress code
ragging may make the freshmen feel awkward and uncomfortable as it
often brings them unnecessary attention from everybody.
Formal Introduction :
This involves asking the freshmen to
introduce themselves in 'Shudh Hindi'. The introduction includes
the freshmen’s name, address, school, marks, etc.
Verbal Torture : Verbal torture involves indulging in loose
talks. The freshmen may be asked to sing the lyrics of any vulgar
song or use abusive language while talking to the seniors.
Sexual Abuse : This is the severest form of ragging that takes
place in colleges. The seniors are mainly interested in ‘juicy’
details such as the anatomical description of one’s body parts,
his or her sexual interests, etc. In many cases, the freshmen have
been asked to strip before the seniors.
Playing The Fool :
may be asked to enact scenes from a particular movie or mimic a
particular film star. In many cases, the seniors may also ask the
freshmen to do silly things like climbing a tree, kissing a tree,
proposing to someone from the opposite sex, etc.
Hostel Ragging : Outstation students who stay in the hostel are
most vulnerable to ragging. They may be asked to do all odd acts
from cleaning the room of seniors to washing their clothes, from
fetching them water or milk to completing their assignments.
Drug Abuse : This can be the worst form of ragging wherein the
freshmen are forced to try drugs thereby driving them into
Understanding The Psyche Of A Ragger
It is to be understood that ragging is not merely a socio-legal
problem. It has a certain psychological basis too. Just as every
crime has a motive, what is it that propels a ‘professional ragger’
to indulge in ragging? Let us examine some possible reasons that
initiate ragging :
1. Ragging Gives A Sense of Authority: By having the freshmen
always at his command, a senior student nurtures a sense of
authority which boasts his morale and puts him on a high.
Ragging Can Be A Means Of Retaliation:
A senior who has some
previous history of ragging may like to get back by venting his
frustrations on the freshmen.
Satisfaction Of Sadistic Pleasures: A potential ragger sees
ragging as a good opportunity to satiate his sadistic pleasures
all at the cost of a poor freshmen’s imagination.
Peer Pressure: It is also a reality that not all seniors who
commit ragging enjoy doing it at their sweet will. Seeing most of
their batchmates indulging in ragging, they fear being left out.
So inorder to avoid isolation, they too join the herd.
A Fashion Statement:
Many senior students live under the misconception that ragging
makes a style statement and thus will put them in the ‘influential
crowd’ of their college.
Consequences Of Ragging: Shocking, But True
It is said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
This truly stands apt in the case of ragging. What begins from a
friendly introduction in the name of ragging takes no time to
assume disgusting and perverted overtones. Let us examine some
shocking consequences of ragging:
How Ragging Affects The Victim:
1. An unpleasant incident of ragging may leave a permanent scar in
the victim’s mind that may haunt him for years to come.
2. The victim declines into a shell, forcing himself into ignominy
and alienation from the rest of the world.
It demoralizes the victim who joins college life with many hopes
4. Though incidents of physical assault and grievous injuries are
not new, ragging also simultaneously causes grave psychological
stress and trauma to the victim.
5. Those students who choose to protest against ragging are very
likely to face ostracism from their seniors in the future.
6. Those who succumb to ragging may drop out thereby hampering
their career prospects
7. In extreme cases, incidents of suicides and culpable homicide
How Ragging Affects The Victim’s Family:
One can imagine the plight of a ragging victim’s family,
especially his or her parents who see their child suffering in
pain and stress. Besides incurring medical and other incidental
expenses to rehabilitate their child, they also have to bear the
trauma of seeing his or her prospective career coming to an end.
How Ragging Affects The Educational Institution :
1. Severe media barrage in extreme cases of ragging lowers the
character of the educational institution and destroys the respect
and faith it commands from society.
2. Those who indulge in ragging bring a bad name to their college
thereby hampering its reputation and goodwill in society.
How Ragging Affects The Raggers:
Ragging does not spare even its perpetrators. Those found guilty
of ragging may be suspended, blacklisted and even permanently
expelled from college.
Thus we see that the practice of ragging does good to none. From
those who are victims of ragging to those who commit or encourage
it, ragging spares none.
Substantive Laws Prohibiting Ragging
Presently, there are only four state legislations in India that
prohibit ragging. These are:
1. The Prohibition of Ragging Act, 1996.
(Applicable in the State of Tamil Nadu).
2. The Kerala Prohibition of Ragging Act, 1998.
3. The Maharashtra Prohibition of Ragging Act, 1999.
4. The Prohibition of Ragging in Educational Institutes
(Applicable in the State of West Bengal).
The common essential features of the aforementioned legislations
1. Firstly, they provide a statutory definition of ragging.
The Maharashtra Prohibition of Ragging Act, 1999 defines
"Ragging means display or disorderly conduct, doing of any act
causes or is likely to cause physical or psychological harm or
apprehension or fear or shame or embarrassment to a student in any
The Kerala Prohibition of Ragging Act, 1998 defines ragging as:
"Teasing, abusing, playing practical jokes or causing hurt or
asking a student to do an act which he is unwilling to do."
2. Secondly, they provide for setting up of Disciplinary
taking immediate and effective steps against ragging.
3. Thirdly, the legislations declare ragging to be a cognizable
and prescribe punishment for the same.
The Maharashta Prohibition Of Ragging Act, 1999 says :
"Offenders of Ragging will be liable to a fine of Rs. 5000 or two
rigorous imprisonment or both. Offenders may also be expelled from
their institutions without any scope for re-admittance."
The Kerala Prohibition of Ragging Act, 1998 reads:
"Students found ragging directly or indirectly or abetting within
outside an educational institution are liable for imprisonment for
which may extend upto two years with a fine which may be upto Rs.10,000. Depending upon the severity of the case, the guilty can be
suspended or dismissed and can also be debarred from gaining
admission in any institution for five years."
Despite incidents of Ragging being reported from almost all states
in India, only four states, namely, Tamil Nadu, Kerala,
Maharashtra and West Bengal, have enacted legislations to deal
with it. As for other states and union territories in India,
Ragging is banned but only through circulars and administrative
Preventing Ragging :
The Landmark Supreme Court Guidelines
With ragging becoming a national issue affecting thousands of
students across India, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India too
could not remain silent and has seriously condemned the issue.
So far there have been two landmark judgments prohibiting ragging.
1. Ragging of Freshers in Thiruvananthapuram Government
College vs. State of Kerala
2. Vishwa Jagriti Mission through President vs. Central Government
through Cabinet Secretary
The judgment in the case of
Vishwa Jagriti Mission through
President vs. Central Government, through Cabinet Secretary is
particularly significant as the Hon’ble Supreme Court, while
exercising its jurisdiction under Articles 32 and 142 of the
Constitution of India, has laid down broad guidelines for colleges
and educational institutes to prevent ragging. Very Briefly, these
Anti -Ragging Movements To Be Initiated By All Colleges And
Educational Institutes: Anti-ragging movements should be initiated
by the institutions right from the time of advertisement for
admissions. The prospectus, the forms for admission and/or any
other literature issued to aspirants for admission must clearly
mention that ragging is banned in the institution and any one
indulging in ragging is likely to be punished appropriately with
punishment which may include expulsion or suspension from the
institution or class for a limited period or fine with a public
apology. The punishment may also take the shape of: (i)
withholding scholarships or other benefits (ii) debarring from
representation in events (iii) withholding results (iv) suspension
or expulsion from hostel or mess, and the like. If there be any
legislation governing ragging or any provisions in the
Statutes/Ordinances they should be brought to the notice of the
students/parents seeking admissions.
Undertakings To Be Taken Both From The Freshmen And Their
Parents/ Guardians: The application for admission / enrolment
shall have a printed undertaking to be filled up and signed by the
applicant to the effect that he/she is aware of the institution’s
approach towards ragging and the punishment to which he or she
shall be liable if found guilty of ragging. A similar undertaking
shall be obtained from the parent/guardian of the applicant.
Be Taken From Seniors Students And Their Parents/Guardians Too:
The institutions which are introducing such a system for the first
time shall ensure undertakings being obtained from the students
and their parents/guardians already studying in the institutions
before the commencement of the next educational year/session.
Notices To Be Issued Indicating Where To Approach For Redressal
In Case Of Ragging: A printed leaflet detailing when and to whom
one has to turn for information, help and guidance for various
purposes, keeping in view the needs of new entrants in the
institution, along with the addresses and telephone numbers of
such persons, should be given to freshers at the time of
admissions so that the freshers need not look up to the seniors
for help in such matters and feel indebted to or obliged by them.
5. Management, Principles And The Teaching Staff To Have Personal
Interaction With The Freshmen: The Management, the Principal, the
Teaching Staff should interact with the freshmen and take them in
confidence by apprising them of their right as well as obligation
to fight against ragging and to generate confidence in their mind
that any instance of ragging to which they are subjected or which
comes in their knowledge should forthwith be brought to their
knowledge and shall be promptly dealt with. It would be better if
the head of the institution or a person high in authority
addresses meetings of teachers, parents and students collectively
or in groups in this behalf.
Practorial Committees To Be Set Up: At the commencement of the
academic session, the institution should constitute a practorial
committee consisting of senior faculty members and hostel
authorities like wardens and a few responsible senior students:
A) to keep a continuous watch and vigil over ragging so as to
occurrence and recurrence,
B) to promptly deal with the incidents of ragging brought to its
notice and summarily punish the guilty either by itself or by
putting forth its findings/recommendations/suggestions before the
authority competent to take decision.
Ragging- Prone Zones To Be Identified And Carefully Guarded :
All vulnerable locations in the college such as the canteen, the
playground, etc. shall be identified and specially watched.
Society To Be Sensitised On The Issue Of Ragging: The local
community and the students in particular must be aware of the
dehumanizing effect of ragging inherent in its perversity.
Posters, notice boards and signboards wherever necessary, may be
used for the purpose.
Failure To Prevent Ragging To Be Constructed As An Act Of
Negligence: Failure to prevent ragging to be constructed as an act
of negligence in maintaining discipline in the institution on the
part of the management, the principal and the persons in authority
of the institution. Similar responsibility shall be liable to be
fixed on hostel wardens/superintendents.
Hostels/Accommodations To Be Carefully Guarded: The
hostels/accommodations where freshers are accommodated shall be
carefully guarded, if necessary by posting security personnel and
placed in charge of a warden/superintendent who should
himself/herself reside there, and wherein the entry of seniors and
outsiders shall be prohibited before and after a specified hour of
night except under the permission of the person in-charge. Entry
at other times may also be regulated.
Migration Certificates To Mention Whether The Student Ever
Indulged In Ragging: Migration Certificates issued by every
institution should have an entry apart from that of general
conduct and behaviour whether the student had participated in, and
in particular, was punished for ragging.
Financial Assistance To Institutes Where Ragging Incidents Are
If an institution fails to curb ragging, the University Grants
Commission/Funding Agency may consider withdrawal of financial
assistance to such an institution till such time as it achieves
the same. A university may consider disaffiliating a college or
institution failing to curb ragging.
Students To First Approach Their Colleges:
In case of any
incident of ragging, the students must approach the Disciplinary
Committee of their respective colleges first, and only if the said
Committee does not take cognizance of the matter or if they feel
dissatisfied with its decision that they should approach the
police. The objective behind this is to restore the faith in the
ability of educational institutions to maintain discipline and
protect the interests of their students.
Police Not To Follow A Retributive Approach While Dealing With
Ragging Culprits: It may be important to note here that the above
stated guidelines are only illustrative and are not intended to
come in the way of the educational institutions and authorities
devising ways and mean to curb ragging. If there are any local
laws governing ragging, they should be implemented and knowledge
and information about such laws should also be disseminated.
Ragging is a problem of the students and by the students; and
therefore, the solution to it also lies with the students. With
ragging becoming rampant in colleges, it is about time that the
the student community awakens its conscience to this inhuman
practice before more and more innocent students become victims of
it and before more and more educational institutes are degraded by
More Related Topics:
Ragging is a term used for active, systematical human rights abuses , similar to hazing and fagging, the severest forms of which are found in engineering, medical and military colleges.