21 May 2022  |   06:30am IST

The only policy for ragging is zero tolerance

Goa’s efforts towards becoming ‘ragging-free’ State could well have borne fruit but for one incident that saw four students rusticated from the boys’ hostel for ragging their fellow student.

This was the first ragging incident in a decade, and comes as a blot on the otherwise clean record in ragging that the State’s educational institutions can boast of. In 2017, then Governor Dr Mridula Sinha had understandably taken pride in the fact that Goa has not reported a single incident of ragging in the previous five years, stating that the good culture that prevails in Goa could be a factor to a ragging-free environment in educational institutions. Five years later, just when Goa was preparing to show a clean slate, the one incident changes everything. 

The current case involves medical students, while the last instance that had come to light in 2012 involved engineering students. This is one instance that has come to light. There is no guarantee that it is the only one, as ragging is a reality in colleges in India and disturbing cases of lives taken and careers ruined have been reported. Goa has escaped this, and it should be kept that way. Year ago, ragging had turned quite common in institutes of higher education as a means of familiarisation between the senior and junior, but the practice was quickly frowned upon when it crossed several boundaries and took on the character of harassment, sometimes even physical and mental abuse. 

Goa does not have a long history of ragging in its educational institutions. Instances of ragging are rare and there has been a relatively safe environment for students. There has to be zero tolerance to ragging in the State. The rustication from the hostel of four students involved in ragging sends a very strong message that this practice will not be tolerated in the State. It should also lead to students who may have been ragged but not reported the case to come forward. It will not be possible for the teachers to keep constant watch on the students, so it is the responsibility of the students themselves to report any cases they may come across, and the mechanism to deal with ragging exists in Goa. 

Available information reveals that there are anti-ragging cells active across all educational institutions, besides a State level Anti-Ragging Monitoring Cell headed by the Governor, legal recourse in the form of the Goa Prohibition of Ragging Act, 2008 which provides the legal and regulatory mechanism to deal with ragging and soon a 24×7 anti-ragging helpline for students of Goa University and its affiliated colleges is to be set up by the University Grants Commission. But, there is more to be done as the anti-ragging helpline has been in the pipeline for around five years. It does not come to notice, as there are no reported cases of ragging but it could exist in minor forms.

Ragging should just not be acceptable in any educational institute as no good comes from it. College managements, teachers and civil society have a major role to play in educating youth that any form of ragging, however minor it may be, is wrong. If earlier, only violent forms of ragging were frowned upon, today any form of ragging is unacceptable. Students have to understand this. Garnering public opinion against ragging is very important so that educational institutes have the backing of the people at large in dealing with cases of ragging. Simultaneously, all colleges have to strictly enforce no ragging policies and those institutes that do not act against ragging should be penalised. There have to be concerted and coordinated efforts at eradicating ragging totally. It just cannot be allowed.


Idhar Udhar