India Uncut

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Monday, September 25, 2006

Ban ragging, not cellphones

The Times of India reports:
The Chhattisgarh government has decided to ban cell phones on college and university campuses across the state. The decision came in the wake of allegations that a first-year student of Bilaspur Engineering College was photographed naked by her seniors during ragging in the hostel.


State higher education minister Ajay Chandrakar said on Friday, "We have made up our minds to ban use of cell phones on college campuses and a notice in this regard by the education department will be issued soon. We have been contemplating a ban on mobile phones in colleges since long."
Hmm, sure, the problem here is the mobile phone, is it not? Instead of taking the strongest possible stance against ragging -- our authorities miss many such opportunities to do so -- this is what they come up with. In a similar transfer of responsibility, the girl's father was reportedly told to get his daughter treated, by a warden who said that she "needs psychiatric help."

The attitudes some of us have towards ragging are beyond belief. It is common to speak of ragging as a normal initiation rite freshers go through, but it actually encompasses a number of acts that are defined as crimes in the Indian penal code. Indeed, students know that many acts that would not be permissable in any other context suddenly become a little more acceptable if the term "ragging" is attached to it. What would otherwise be a crime can be condoned as, at the most, "going a little overboard."

What will it take to change such attitudes? To start with, colleges should have a zero tolerance attitude towards any kind of coercion on campus, and cops should come down much harder on such crimes. Some kind of national ragging database would be perfect (with checks and balances, of course), and anyone who feels the urge to rag someone -- or see someone naked against their will -- should realise that it will probably result in the end of his academic career. People who rag should be treated like child-molesters -- given the age and vulnerability of some victims, it really isn't all that much different.

But all that is stating the obvious, and our authorities are clearly more enlightened than that. Out with thee, Nokia!
amit varma, 11:12 AM| write to me | permalink | homepage

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