Saturday, June 20, 2009

Missing Pappu, Missing EVMs, Missing Impact

The ‘Pappu’ and the EVMs are missing for the ragging campaign

Today, the HRD Ministry launched their ‘Ragging-Rodhi Toll Free Number’. This is a much awaited measure, long advocated by CURE, prescribed by all anti-ragging organizations I know of and more recently by the Raghavan Committee.

But given the little experience I have fighting the menace of ragging, I am far from convinced that this would help.


Simple. The ‘Pappu’ is missing and so are the EVMs.

When I heard the ‘Pappu vote nahi daalta…’ campaign, it immediately made an appeal to me and to all my friends; all in the age group of 17-25 years. We liked it, it attracted our attention and without having any statistics to claim how much effect it had on actual voting, I am sure the popularity of the campaign was huge. It had reached out and caught the imagination of everyone.

We need the ‘Par pappu ragging karta hai’ campaign for ragging, which is completely missing. It is what will catch the attention of the youth, not the ‘Ragging Rodhi Toll Free Number’ and all the bureaucratic details around it. A sensitization jingle, imagery or a video together with the toll-free number is what is going to work. Till we cannot reach out to people, it is failure to start with.

In our small ways, CURE launched a ragging song and video last year which became immensely popular. It can be seen at The key point in the video is that it connects with the youth and has a great emotional appeal. I do not think that in the current format, i.e. the medium, language, duration, it can be retrofitted to the Toll-Free campaign. But it is close to some thing we need and with some work, it can be customized and adapted to to become the ‘Pappu’ of ragging campaign. We need the Pappu!!!!

So, this is my first point, no Pappu means no attention, no attention means we lose on the first step itself!

Secondly, do a thought experiment: the whole country goes out to vote, but the counting agents are corrupt! Is there any meaning to such an election? Without the EVMs, I will not trust the elections.

In my best knowledge, the current format of the helpline is that the complaint with the name of the complainant will be sent to the college principle. It is a no-brainer for any ragging-activist that in more than 80% cases, the ragging victim is victimized further by the college authorities for his/her crime of spilling the beans. Don’t we read in four out of five ragging incidents, the claim of the college authorities that the ragging victim was characterless, he had a personal fight with the seniors, was academically dull or that he/she is just lying! In a most disgraceful case from South India, which CURE closely monitored, the college authorities repeatedly failed the ragging victims for filing a police complaint!

My point is simple; my trust in college authorities is zero. Sending the complaint to the college authorities is the worst you can do to the victim. As my co-founder at CURE, Harsh always say, “If we reveal the name of the candidate or the details of the incident to the campus, the victim is going in for the worst. As soon as they identify the complainant, the authorities and the seniors would harass the person, probably, till he/she leaves the college”. This is not an exaggeration. It happens every now and then, in a way similar to women abuse, which happens all the time but is not reported.

So, what to do on getting a complaint? In my current best knowledge, the government has no clue as to what to do after the complaint is received apart from sending it back to the college and may be the university. Without a water-tight process of relief and justice, a toll free number is useless and could be suicidal for the complainant.

Thus, I see that the EVMs are missing. There is no process to deliver on the complaint. If you go out and complain, there is no trustworthy process which will deliver justice in all fairness.

Without pappu and the EVMs, the Ragging Toll Free Number is a faceless and a spineless move.

A badly thought out plan meets one of the two fates: After a year they will realize that it does not work and scrap it off or they will realize that they have pumped enough resources in it and they need to make it work. Then they will call in Mr. Pappu and the EVMs. I hope against hope, the latter happens.

- Varun Aggarwal
20 June 2009

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