Saturday, August 29, 2009

Ragging at JNU: Close your eyes and say there is no evil

Recently, several newspapers reported how JNU which has been ‘ragging-free’ for forty years registered the first complaints of ragging in August this year. Calling JNU ragging-free for forty years is like closing your eyes and saying there is no evil.

No, I do not have any evidence to say that ragging existed in JNU before this incident occurred. However, at CURE, we have received ragging complaints from many students who study at so-called ragging-free campuses. Why do these college do not know about this?

Firstly, even if they knew they would do their utmost to hide this and protect the image of their college. Secondly, why should they look for something they do not want to find in the first place! If they find it out, then they will have to make efforts to solve it and hide it. Ragging is a severely complicated issue and its readdressal has led to violence and unrest in campuses, like the recent hunger strike at JNU. Why to try to detect something which will cause you undue trouble?

Thirdly, colleges lay the onus of reporting ragging incidents on freshers. We, at CURE, have several times stressed, that the fresher cannot be expected to report ragging incidents. He/she is under tremendous fear and pressure not to report ragging incidents and get himself/herself in a worse situation. Most cases show that when ragging incidents are reported, not only the senior batch ostracizes the fresher, in many cases, the campus also tries to hush the case and further victimize the victim.

Thus my question to JNU is whether they were proactively monitoring to detect any ragging incidents at campus? Were they doing surprise rounds in hostels at odd hours in a bid to detect ragging? I guess not. They were probably expecting that the fresher would come and complaint that he had suffered ragging. This is what I call close your eyes and say there is no evil. I reiterate: the onus of reporting ragging incidents cannot be on the victim.

I have nothing against JNU or their administration. My objection is to the reactive attitude of campuses, which should rather be proactive. Only then would they actually detect and clean ragging. On the contrary, I am impressed with the JNU administration in the way they took strong measures against the perpetrators of ragging, when the first fresher mustered the courage to complain in the last 40 years. I hope this shall set a strong detterent against ragging in future batches.

JNU’s case remains exemplary in depicting the complexity of ragging. As I already mentioned, it depicts that our classification of ragging-free campuses is wrong. Without proactive monitoring in place, there is nothing which confirms that the campus is ragging-free. On the contrary, there are umpteen reasons to believe that a campus claimed to be ragging-free is not so. So stop calling campuses ragging-free till there is a proactive manner to detect ragging implemented in them.

Secondly, what is very interesting is how the drama unfolded after the expulsions were made. The senior students started a hunger strike, Gandhian-means for probably the most anti-Gandhi-ends. This shows how any action on ragging leads to arm-twisting from student-mobs and undue disciplinary problems in campuses. Also, what is not surprising is how junior students denied that they were ragged and one of them joined the hunger strike. This brings to light the other problem with action against ragging: Sympathy for the punished students. I do not see any reason for sympathy for the guilty; they require punishment and reform, not sympathy. And of course we know that the freshers who are claiming the seniors to be innocent, were indeed ragged.

Frankly, I am for punishment against ragging, but against the particular punishment meted out by JNU, i.e., rustication of the students for two years from the campus. I believe that for an offender which may show recovery, the punishment should make sure that he/she has a chance to recover and return to the mainstream. In case this does not happen, we encourage formation of an outcast group of losers on the sidelines of a vibrant society. A six-month or one year suspension would have done the job and helped these guys both taste punishment and eventually return to normal life.

My advise to campuses: Open your eyes, See the evil and Remove the evil!


  1. JNU administration has actually framed people in the case; it did not catch anyone red handed. you can read teh full documentation on my blog.

  2. nice thoughts varun , but I would like to put light some more facts which are probable let untouched . First ,JNU is basically research oriented university. Students when take admissions here they are about 20-21 years old . Ragging occurs more frequently in engineering and medical courses (specially under graduate courses). No one is that innocent to be ragged . JNU has total freedom to express one's feelings. Many political parties are active here . If one thinks that he's been ragged then he'll surely go for complaint . More over JNU has healthy traditions to welcome it's fresher students here . Each hostel and center organizes their respective fresher parties and freshers are asked to do dance or sing . Even I have also faced the same situation here and I am not agree to address it as "RAGGING" .You have written like that you are damn sure that ragging is continuously being done in JNU since 40 years . This is not acceptable . It hurts each and every student of JNU .BTW I am quite impressed by your last para .