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Ragging in India: A Human Rights in Education Perspective

Written by: Anant Kumar Asthana
Constitutional Lawyers in India
Legal Service
  • Ragging in India's educational system

    Is widespread yet Ragging is far from being recognized as an issue under Human rights by Indian Government and Human Rights fraternity. This article attempts to establish "Ragging" as an issue of "Human rights in Education" with the help of authoritative reports from United Nations and calls upon Human rights fraternity to address the issue of ragging from a "Human Rights in Education" perspective.

    Ragging , a colonial legacy, is widespread in India's education. Various State Legislatures in India have been passing anti-ragging legislations, yet the issue is far from being resolved. Indian legal fraternity is yet to approach the problem of ragging from a perspective other than that of "crime". In the absence of any serious research work to that effect, ragging is hardly recognized as an issue under Human Rights, neither Human Rights fraternity in India seems to bother about "ragging".

    Ragging , though widely believed to be a major factor for campus violence and suicides in educational institutions in India, is yet to be recognized as a systematic human right abuse in Education and such human right violations in education have not been given proper attention in India, which they otherwise deserve.

    However, with in United Nations, ragging has been considered as an issue of Human Rights in education. Education law in India should take note of practice of ragging in educational system as a major obstacle in realization of the Right to Education.

    Katarina Toma'evski, the Special Rapporteur with Commission on Human Rights, Economic and Social Council, United Nations ,in her Annual Report in 2001 advocates 4-A scheme, whereby governmental human rights obligations to make education available, accessible, acceptable and adaptable have been recognized. Education with ragging can hardly be acceptable to anyone and by this way this is well with in governmental obligations to make education free from ragging.

    The Commission on Human Rights had asked the Special Rapporteur to focus on overcoming obstacles and difficulties in the realization of the right to education worldwide and keeping in view this direction, the Special Rapportuer made specific mention of Ragging in Chapter V STREAMLINING THE HUMAN RIGHTS FRAMEWORK FOR EDUCATION:

    75. The Supreme Court of Sri Lanka decided in April 1998 on the constitutionality of a law that aimed to outlaw and suppress, inter alia , verbal abuse (called ragging, bullying and/or harassment) within educational institutions. The victimization of students, especially newcomers, through verbal abuse should be outlawed, the Court has affirmed, adding that "ragging has far too long been cruel, inhuman and degrading. Our society has been unable to deal with the root causes of ragging, and the anxieties, fears and frustrations of youth on which ragging has fed and flourished."

    Appreciating domestic courts' increasing recognition of human rights in education, the Special Rapportuer has expressed her satisfaction over entry of human rights in education law. Report in its recommendation part says:
    ?81. the international and domestic human rights law protecting the right to education and guaranteeing human rights in education should be used as a corrective for all education strategies.The Special Rapporteur recommends to all international actors involved in promoting education to review their approach using human rights as the yardstick.

    Making a particular reference to India , the report says:
    24. While fully aware of the allocations of responsibility within education between central and State governments, the special rapportuer emphasized the responsibility of the State in ensuring the full implementation of international human rights law binding upon it...
    This mean that State needs to take up the task of making education acceptable to all and elimination of ragging should be construed to be a necessary step in this direction.

    The Special Rapportuer's report calls for:

    (1) Mainstreaming of human rights in educational strategies ,

    (2)The full mobilization of the existing human rights standards for education in order to enable the human rights community to provide a timely contribution to developments which were, until recently, deemed to lie beyond the reach of human rights safeguards.

    Ragging is hardly perceived as a serious human rights issue in India and it is high time that human rights community in India (including Governmental and non governmental players) should consider crafting adequate human rights safeguards against ragging.

    More articles on Ragging law in India
    Ragging In Educational Institutes: A Human Rights Perspective

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