Saturday, September 28, 2002
M A I N   F E A T U R E

When are we going to put a stop to ragging?
Jagvir Goyal

  • Unable to bear the humiliation of being forced to strip and parade naked by seniors, an engineering student allegedly committed suicide on September 13 by hanging himself from the ceiling fan. Anup Kapoor, 19, a student of Institute of Engineering and Technology, Lucknow, took the extreme step after he was stripped and paraded in the college for two hours by the seniors, according to an FIR lodged by his father.

  • Rohit, a fresher at Regional Engineering College, Rourkela, smashed the windowpanes with his fist in utter frustration after his seniors slapped him repeatedly during ragging, which caused injury to his ear. In the process, Rohit hurt himself badly and bled profusely. He had to be hospitalised.

  • Rajiv had secured a good rank in the Combined Entrance Test. He was granted a seat in the engineering college, much to the envy of his friends. Yet happiness eluded him. He knew the reason. It was the fear of ragging by seniors that gripped his heart and marred his joy.

‘RAGGING’ is an accepted phenomenon in colleges. It has been in practice for the past thirty years. May be more. In professional colleges, it is really severe. Instances of brutal beating and physical abuse of newly admitted students by their seniors are often heard. The seniors consider ragging their right as they too were meted a similar treatment when they had joined the college. So, the process continues.

Over the past few years, a growing concern about ragging has been noted. Most of the college authorities have enforced a ban on ragging of newcomers. The government too has stepped in and declared it illegal. Even the Apex court of India has declared it illegal. Yet ragging has not been fully eradicated. Hardly any senior is caught or complained against for fear of a backlash.

In order to assess the situation, an attempt was made to observe and study ragging practised in a professional college. The college chosen was the well-known REC in Orissa.


Unaffected by all the laws and the bans, the students of this college continue to practise ragging. The teachers and the authorities shut their eyes to this menace, for the student lobby is very strong. Ragging in this college is carried out in a systematic way, just like a military drill. There are rules for every minor or major thing — who will rag whom, what will be the dress code, what will be the address code, how a fresher has to sleep, what he has to eat and so on. The ‘ragging course’ continues for six months.

Ragging code

Dress in college: Plain clothes. No jeans, no jackets.

Shoes: Military type.

Hairstyle: Crew cut.

Appearance: No moustache.

Night dress: Pants, shirt and tie to be worn while sleeping.

Second-year students to be addressed as: papa, mummy.

Strictly banned: Movies, visiting a hotel, laughing

Mode of commuting: running.

For the purpose of ragging, the newcomers are divided into four zones — north, south, east and west. A fresher is ragged by the seniors of his zone only. Others don’t touch him. All the second-year students are addressed as ‘papa’ or ‘mummy’ as the case may be. The third-year students are called dada or dadi, while the fourth or final-year students as pardada or pardadi.

Every fresher has to shave everyday without fail. Wearing a pair of jeans or pants with pleats is strictly prohibited in the first year. Plain clothes are to be worn. The pants are to be home-tailored. Jackets are not allowed in winter. A student has to make do with plain sweaters only. Only military-type shoes are to be worn. No moustache is allowed. A crew-cut hairstyle has to be maintained.

The freshers have to wear pants, shirt and a tie while going to sleep. This is compulsory, for they may be called any time by their seniors for any petty job. No fresher is permitted to laugh in front of seniors. If they do so, the senior hits the fresher hard and the fresher has to keep count of the slaps he had received. Every fresher has to tolerate a fixed number of slaps. Only those that leave a mark are to be counted as slaps. A senior may stop a fresher and ask him the tally, which the fresher has to tell instantly otherwise he may get hit again. Similarly every fresher has to remember the names of all seniors of his zone. This is the first and most important lesson to be learnt. Sometimes the students are hit hard against the window grills.

Going to movies or visiting hotels is banned by the seniors. Permission of seniors has to be taken for this and that is rarely granted. The freshers are frequently sent to the city by the seniors for petty jobs such as booking of railway tickets, shopping and so on. "Only one booking-slip is entertained at a time by the railway authorities. I was told to make 10 bookings. So I had to join the queue 10 times," a fresher said.

Anytime the new students go to college from hostel or return, they have to run with their hands raised above their heads. They are not allowed to walk. Sometimes the students are told to assemble at a particular place or park in the city at a fixed time. The gruelling session fixed may fall during college hours, or at any time of the day or night. Come what may, the freshers see to it that they are present at the venue at the right time. Once the students were told to appear near a hill base at 10 in the night. At that time, the hostel doors were locked as per the instructions of the warden. The students jumped out of the first-floor windows, with many of them breaking their limbs.

There are restrictions on diet also. Freshers can only eat those food items that are allowed by their seniors. Special snacks sent to the students by their parents are taken away by the seniors. Ignorance is considered no excuse. A new student who didn’t know the ‘ragging code’, kept roaming on the campus with his parents who had come to get him admitted and thought of giving him company for a few days before leaving. The boy was given a severe thrashing after his parents left.

Ragging — once a fun filled phenomena — is today acquiring alarmingly damaging and violent proportions. The issue needs to be dealt with firmly both by educational institutions and the government. The affected students must also join hands with the authorities to put an end to this menace.