Home  -  Back Issues  -  The Team  -  Contact Us
        Volume 12 |Issue 06| February 08, 2013 |


 Cover Story
 Current Afairs
 Star Diary

   SWM Home


Photo: Star File


Zihad Azad

In recent weeks, Facebook and other social networking sites were stormed with disturbing stories of ragging at some of the public universities (especially JU) and the mob reaction to it was rave as well as radical. There was an official announcement from the JU authority that ragging was being banned and any existing student found guilty of it would be subject to rustication. Well, I neither belong to the authority nor to the group of people accused of such heinous act. Rather, I am one of those who might fall prey to this particular malpractice one of these days. I am a freshman. And being someone from outside the big picture, I just might be able to offer a fresh perspective.

Photo: Zahedul I Khan

Ragging has been an inseparable part of our educational system. Till date, no major initiative has been administered against it and thus has gone on unhindered and unmentioned. To us freshmen, it is a mysterious event, a sacred ritual and intimidating iniation. To guardians, it is a crime committed against their children and sometimes entails sexual exploitation. To the authority, it is an opportunity for the senior pupils to bully the 'new fish in the bowl'. But is it a crime? Or is it a tradition that marks a rite of passaget? Let's look for a definition first. Wikipedia says, "Ragging is a practice in educational institutions in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka that involves existing students baiting or bullying new students." So by definition, ragging is of South Asian parentage. It generally does not occur outside the Subcontinent.

In Bangladesh, the 'old-school' admission process in the public universities is partially responsible for it. There is always a one year gap between two consecutive batches and hence, the senior-junior relationship paradigm is established. This particular formula does not apply in the case of a private university since there are always new batches arriving at an interval of 4/5 months. Moreover, they are not alien to the concept of both parties attending the same lecture and irrespective of the age difference, becoming classmates. So with certain exceptions like AUST, ragging is not regular practice at most private universities. Rather, it can be defined as a counter-culture developed and practiced in public universities.

Let me give an example of how things go down during the process. A bunch of newcomers are summoned by the seniors at a common place (usually the cafeteria). The 'freshers' have the floor to introduce themselves one by one. And then comes the bullying part. Some of them are forced to depict obscene pornography, some are told to dance like Shakib Khan or Ananto Jalil whereas some are instructed to sketch drawings that involve nudity and sexual explicitness. The baiting of the freshers continues across hostels and dormitories but with the increased amount of privacy, the hazing just gets all the more violent and aggressive.

But what about the aftermath of ragging? Here comes the interesting part. The ones that have approached their respective tasks with bravado and completed them intelligently are met with cheers of approval from the seniors and they receive the "welcome aboard, mate!" greeting. The seniors then introduce themselves to the newcomers. They also encourage the freshers to come to them with any problem of their university life from then on. As for the ones who have failed to live up to the expectations, they get a minor scolding from the brothers; but receive a greeting nonetheless. Afterwards, they all get a buffet treat in the canteen.

But this is not always the case. Sometimes the freshers are victimized by the seniors to the extent of stripping and abusing. They are also exposed to physical and psychological harassment. The problem rises from the mere fact that a senior possesses absolute control over a fresher who yields to the process and by default, he is able to satiate any sadistic pleasure over the body and mind of his junior counterpart. That is indeed the biggest flaw of this practice.

It is rightly said that the end may not always justify the means. Behind the façade of 'welcoming' new students to university, ragging is a regular practice. It is a crime that perhaps has a definition but no set boundaries. Through the open interval, it can transcend to fields that are both unorthodox and dangerous. So the concerned authority should implement proper initiatives to put a period to the abhorrent act of ragging.


Copyright (R) thedailystar.net 2013