Pune: Ragging is defined as an act that violates or is perceived to violate an individual student’s dignity. But in a shocking revelation, a recently conducted research by University Grant Commission (UGC) on ‘Psychosocial study of ragging in selected educational institutions in India’, showed that there is indeed a widespread acceptance of ragging in educational institutions, as well as in the society.
The aim of ragging or bullying, as the study says, is frequently described as a rite of passage, of preparing youths for a tough and competitive world and of being masculine. It also takes place as a result of lack of appreciation of the diversities in our country like ethnicity, language, religion etc.
The researchers said that a study of bullying in schools indicates a continuum commencing from families to schools and finding expression in ragging in colleges and higher educational institutions (HEI).
Based on these findings, UGC has recommended certain pointers to be followed by HEI, which include institutions should organise welcome and orientation programmes at the beginning of every academic session involving the students, through which a clear message will be sent regarding acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. This must include zero tolerance to ragging, sexual harassment and discrimination based on caste, religion, ethnicity etc.
A clear standard operating procedure will be laid down for dealing with the cases of ragging. The students should be made aware of these rules and also about the procedure to file a complaint to the concerned person, with an assurance of anonymity.
The institutions must appreciate the huge diversities in terms of ethnicity, language, religion, sexuality etc and effectively address the diversity-related concerns, by assessing and monitoring the social climate of institutions through regular surveys of students and staff.
Psychosocial support and counselling should be offered to victims, as well as perpetrators, so that the potential for cyclical abuse is neutralised. The sensitisation programme can be done using creative methods such as drama, art, films and other media.
HEI must provide an environment where the students learn the values of democratic, mutually respectful relationships, non-violent conflict resolution, autonomous and critical thinking, compassion and caring, respect for differences, fairness and so on. This can be done by holding programmes that foster civic engagement and responsibility, critical reflection on social issues and values.