Ragging Culture

Guest Post by wordssetmefreee

In the following case, do the people who ragged the student understand that what they did is inherently wrong (let alone understanding that it’s a crime)?

http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/bengaluru/Student-Attempts-Suicide-Family-Cries-Ragging/2015/02/04/article2651563.ece

And yet another case where the parents think their son was ragged and tormented and consider his death suspicious (not an accident):

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/nujs-student-falls-to-death-parents-allege-foul-play/

In the above case, I wonder if the student shared with his parents that he was being tormented? If so, did they listen? Did they take it seriously? What specific actions were taken to curb the ragging/bullying?

Bullying is a universal problem. In the US, we deal with it in high school and the earlier part of undergraduate college. In India, we have the added problems of lack of recognition of bullying as a crime (both in homes and colleges) and improper (or lack of) law enforcement.

There is a third very important factor specific to our society – the hierarchical/power culture that pervades through many other abusive relationships (rich versus poor, elder vs younger members of family, groom’s parents vs bride’s parents in weddings and post-wedding life, upper caste vs lower caste, land owners vs farmers, upper class vs laborers, well connected vs man-on-the-street, politicians versus common man), and we can almost see this naturally extending to the campus arena – seniors versus juniors. Once again, respect is demanded for no logical reason. Respect is taken, not earned. Appeasement is seen as the only way to peace and being left alone. Fear is mistaken for respect and power drives the relationship.

I’ve known people who consider ragging as “part of life” or a “milestone in the journey to adulthood”. Some have referred to it as “character building” and a “rite of passage”; others consider it “harmless” and “fun” and for these, ragging seems to bring back nostalgic memories of their student years.

My cousin graduated from the Naval Engineering College at Lonavala about 15 years ago. The first summer he came home, he was unrecognizable. He was gaunt, bone thin, and developed a skin rash that could only be attributed to stress. During ragging he (along with others) was put through unbearable levels of physical pain and mental humiliation. He came close to quitting a few times but somehow pulled through.

But after he got married ( a few years later), when his wife asked him if the ragging at NEC was as bad as she had heard, he shrugged and replied, “It made a man out of me.”

Ragging, on the other hand, portrayed as amusing or hilarious in popular movies like 3 Idiots and Munna Bhai hasn’t helped either.

Ragging is a form of abuse, period. It can be emotional, verbal or physical. It involves repeated, possibly aggressive, humiliating, or manipulative behavior that is deliberately aimed at asserting power over another individual or group. It is harmful to the physical and emotional well being of students, something that any educational institution by its very definition, should be concerned about. In some cases, it can be violent and result in injury or death. Regardless of whether it is mild or severe, it should be treated as unacceptable.

Ragging, bullying, hazing – this destructive behavior goes by different names and takes on various forms around the world.

But it makes one wonder what goes on in these people’s minds? What are they thinking when they insult, humiliate, or harass someone? I’m on the PTA for my son’s high school and bullying is an ever-present concern at the meetings. We’ve had 2 incidents this year, one of them was milder (inappropriate language toward a gay student), but the other involved consistent, deliberate, and elaborately planned out harassment by a group of people toward one student (consistent because the victim remained silent for a longer period before complaining).

In general, education, awareness, strict law enforcement, and counseling definitely minimize/reduce the problem to some extent. There is no doubt in any student’s mind (at my son’s school) that bullying is wrong/unacceptable/illegal.

However there is another side to bullying, one that educational institutions have little control over – the student’s home environment. Despite the education and awareness that is routinely dispensed at the school in the form of talks, fliers, help lines, seminars, text alert systems, counseling, and assertiveness training, bullying still happens. Why? That’s because we don’t have complete control over the environment that creates bullies. How much of bullying happens because some children/youth grow up never learning that it is a serious crime? How many of them have heard it being referred to as something that is “part of life” or a “rite of passage”? Or things like “boys are by nature aggressive” or “boys don’t cry” or “conquer or be conquered”? How many of these children grow up being bullied by the adults who raise them?

We can only look at the behaviors of bullies and find some common underlying issues. Numerous studies indicate that most bullies tend to exhibit the following traits:

  • lacking a sense of control over their own lives
  • anger that is not dealt with constructively and often misdirected
  • low self-esteem
  • may have witnessed violence or aggression at home
  • may have seen power being used unfairly at home
  • may have been bullied by others
  • lacking in empathy
  • lacking in remorse
  • may have experienced harsh, physical punishments at home
  • possibly exposed to only win-lose situations and have seldom seen win-win relationships
  • insufficient or inappropriate socialization during childhood

And then, there are the passive bullies, the ones who don’t initiate the bullying but quickly join in when someone else gets it going. They seem to exhibit the following traits:

  • herd mentality and lack of strong opinions
  • hungry/deprived for attention
  • low self esteem
  • looking for someone ‘superior’ to latch on to
  • tendency to exhibit hero worship and unquestioning loyalty
  • lack of identity and the need to belong

There is a third group that is worth looking at – people who witness bullying. By silently watching a crime, they are knowingly or unknowingly encouraging it. A study titled “Bullies, Victims, and Bystanders” published on athealth.com concludes that “bystanders create the illusion that the bully has the support of the majority and this perception perpetuates a culture of bullying”. These people tend to –

  • not want to get involved and generally don’t take a stand on anything
  • may not connect the dots (if it’s him today, it could be me tomorrow)
  • may not see bullying as a crime and believe it is amusing
  • may be less empathetic
  • may not have been taught self-respect and individual rights in their home environment

What can colleges do to deal with ragging/bullying besides developing a strict code of law and enforcing it?

  • The first thing that comes to mind in terms of solutions is to have a zero tolerance policy or ‘3 strikes and you’re out’ against bullying behavior. But this does not necessarily solve the problem entirely. Bullies have a way of seeking out victims off campus or on social media, via smart phones or in cyber space.
  • It is therefore important for an educational institution to work on the bullying person (or persons) as an individual. Counseling may be needed for the person engaging in this behavior to see his actions as not only criminal but as genuinely wrong and hurtful to others. Counseling may also explore the underlying issues of the individual and find positive ways for him to relate to others and develop acceptable coping mechanisms for issues that cannot be easily resolved.
  • I don’t know if we have counselors at colleges and universities, or if they are trained to guide and support students in addressing their emotional health and development, but if we don’t, we should definitely work toward that goal.

A University of Albany study that examined the relationship between parental aggression toward children and the children’s behavior states that “Parents who may displace their anger, insecurity, or a persistent need to dominate and control upon their children in excessive ways have been proven to increase the likelihood that their own children will in turn become overly aggressive or controlling towards their peers.”

While we need laws against ragging/bullying and we need proper ways to enforce them, preventing bullying behavior primarily begins at home. We need to ask ourselves what we are teaching youngsters in our own homes.

On the communication front –

  • Are we using positive communication to resolve differences with our children and with each other (spouses)?
  • Is the communication style used by parents straightforward and assertive or is it manipulative/sarcastic? Words can often be used in punitive, damaging ways in the form of labeling, veiled threats, and ‘ harmless jokes’ that perpetuate stereotypes.
  • Are we listening to our children when they are angry with someone? Are we showing them ways to resolve their conflicts in acceptable, legal ways?
  • Are we able to handle our own anger at our own problems in a mature and responsible manner?
  • In conflict situations, are we addressing the problem or resorting to personal attacks?

On developing trust and self esteem –

  • Do we trust our children when they complain about abuse? Have we taught them how to stand up to any form of abuse – verbal, emotional, physical, or sexual? Do we take their reports of ragging seriously?
  • Are we helping build their self-esteem by recognizing their strengths and supporting them with their challenges?
  • Are we instilling confidence in them so that they don’t feel the need for approval and/or belonging from the wrong sources?
  • Are we allowing them to develop their own identity so that they don’t feel the need to put someone down to feel superior?

On power play –

  • Are our children engaging in arguments with the sole purpose of ‘winning’ or are they engaging in discussions with the intent of learning?
  • Are we creating a democratic environment at home, with room for different ideas and viewpoints? Are children able to express disagreement without fear? Are they able to express disagreement without shouting or getting abusive with parents?
  • Are we refraining from using intimidation and aggression in the form of a loud voice, physical punishments, and threats?
  • Are we using our power as adults and parents wisely and fairly?
  • Are we showing respect to our children and earning their respect rather than expecting unquestioning obedience?

On values –

  • Are we respecting people of all cultures, communities, and backgrounds both in our words and actions? Or do we make casual racist remarks or put down people based on their caste, color, gender, orientation, or economic status? Do we subtly convey our hatred or mistrust for the ‘other’? (Children pick up on their parents’ prejudices even when they’re not overtly stated.)
  • Are we teaching them what constitutes a crime? Do our children understand that taking away someone else’s right to be educated in a safe, non-threatening environment is a crime?

The above strategies are helpful not only in preventing children from growing up to become bullies, but also in preventing them from becoming victims of bullies.

Again, it would not be entirely wrong to claim that the emotional well being of children is a low priority in traditional hierarchical families and expecting our existing parenting philosophy to change drastically is wishful thinking. However, cynicism is not the answer. I think identifying and defining the problem is the first step and a prerequisite to awareness building and finding solutions.

Bullying gives people a sense of power. It’s up to us to create and promote democratic environments (both at home and educational institutions) that don’t function on the power principle, and instead operate on awareness of individual rights, mutual respect and boundaries.

Please share your experiences with ragging and ideas on how we can change the culture of ragging.

Edited to add: A Boy’s Courage in the Face of Cowardly Bullying:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/autistic-teenager-beaten-up-by-bullies-makes-them-watch-20minute-video-about-autism-10368201.html

 

37 thoughts on “Ragging Culture

  1. I have been in two colleges where ragging was considered normal by senior batches. When I progressed to the senior class, I never indulged. What made it easy to deal was the constant messaging from faculty that it should be reported at all costs. It was ice breaker 15yrs back when I went to my first college but I always knew I could report it the moment it takes the form of bullying. Luckily, a ban from the GoI helped.

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  2. “There is a third very important factor specific to our society – the hierarchical/power culture that pervades through many other abusive relationships (rich versus poor, elder vs younger members of family, groom’s parents vs bride’s parents in weddings and post-wedding life, upper caste vs lower caste, land owners vs farmers, upper class vs laborers, well connected vs man-on-the-street, politicians versus common man), and we can almost see this naturally extending to the campus arena – seniors versus juniors. ”

    What you said is absolutely correct. This is the single most important factor resulting in the many issues in our society. Ragging, rape, harassment, dowry, misogyny etc. are all perpetrated by this power hungry society that demands respect and further perpetuates it with those sitting below them in the hierarchy chain. The indian society refuses to accept any another individual as an equal and victims of the system continue to perpetuate it with those around them.

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  3. Are people ragging others to make them mentally strong ,make them practical ? Bullies keep using this shit because they have so much fun ! Ragging is everywhere …..I somehow escaped ragging in school and college ….I think because of my tall frame and no nonsense demeanour I think but I was ragged,made to feel small and useless by female boss at work ! Though I grew out of it but at that time it was debilitating !Bullies are just that …..bullies ! I wonder if ragging is going away but yes in school and college it could be made into an offence so bullies worrying about their future might not do it openly !
    BTW, bullies are badly brought up sons and daughters with mean criminal instinct even if they are intelligent,top of the class ! They should be avoided and ignored and not made friends with !
    Movies are replete with stupidity on this topic !!

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    • You raise an important point – bullies grow up …. and continue to bully people in the workplace. Referred to as the “silent epidemic” and “mobbing”, workplace bullying has been found to be more prevalent than previously thought …. mainly because we are beginning to redefine what is acceptable/unacceptable behavior in a work environment.

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    • I wish I could like your comment a 1000 times. Every word is true. I did not get ragged because I was among the tallest kids and my older brother was in the same school. I almost feel bad that I didn’t get to retaliate against some of those bullies!

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  4. I used to work at a small company in Noida. There was a senior manager there who was HUGE. He took pride in physically bullying my male colleagues, including Mister. He’d just sneak up on them from behind, and push them or lift them up in the air and then drop them. Because he was a senior guy, nobody retaliated. It was basically physical and psychological intimidation.

    At a party, this guy got drunk and revealed how badly he was bullied as a kid. Makes me wonder if all bullies are basically people who lacked control in their lives and were bullied (by parents, classmates, or in college).

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    • I wonder where we are with regard to HR …. my previous company used to have a branch in Chennai – on my visits there, it seemed that HR busied themselves telling women how to dress and left senior management strictly alone. This despite many transgressions on their part – sexist remarks toward women and having some junior men run errands for them.

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      • Oh running errands are very common ! Some juniors willingly to do it as part of sucking up to the seniors ! The more conservative and rigid the office the more of it you have to do ! Its one of the perks of being a senior !
        Nowadays there is a new thing,…..the cleaning staff,office boy/peon don’t suck up to anyone ! They know they are in demand ! The white collar staff still does it,…..and expected to do both informally and as part of manners and upbringing making life hell of those who don’t !!

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        • Indeed! I think HR is created and instructed to harass the minions working in the company and pamper the overpaid seniors ! Its surprising how they are willing to accommodate the senior hierarchy !
          No wonder most people don’t report harassment, overwork, less pay !
          We Indians love to show off how much we hang around the office ,sucking up is in our DNA – not going anywhere !! We work on the policy of – you scratch my back ,I scratch yours,favours and getting work done,hypocrisy – all part of corruption culture of subcontinent !
          That’s how promotions are handed out that’s how we get ahead !

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  5. First of all, a big thanks to Priya for such an insightful article on this topic and to IHM for sharing it with us. And apologies to IHM for the length of my comment hereon.🙂

    I have very strong views regarding this nonsense called ragging and this article brilliantly brought out the psychology behind the active and passive bullies as well as bystanders. It is actually a vicious cycle of being bullied -> messing up one’s psychology -> bullying others. Ragging is not just an institutional menace but has deep rooted association with how the society works. As the above article rightly pointed out, hierarchy and power equations are both a cause and effect in most type of relationships in the society.

    In India, medical and engineering institutes are the most notorious for ragging. Being a doctor myself, I have experienced how deep this menace is rooted in the psyches of even those who enter a medical college. Though I was never ragged myself (being the first MBBS batch of a new medical college helped) but I have seen it carrying on till today even after all the laws and bans.

    Having no seniors who could rag our batch, I hoped that things would be different in our college, But as soon as the next batch (my immediate juniors) came in, the ‘wolves’ of my batch were already licking their lips. Eventually, ragging did happen (with my very vocal displeasure and threats to report my batchmates to the authorities). But I was aghast to find the dismissive attitude of the college authorities who were all very senior doctors. Everyone simply seemed to subtly reinforce the ‘belief’ that ragging was “necessary” for a medical student and hence a “part of life”.

    Just last October I was visiting a Govt. medical college in north India for a conference where as part of the cultural events, the first year students enacted a play about the life of a first year student in a medical college. I couldn’t believe the hearty laughs and appreciation from almost all of the senior faculty present in the hall when they mimicked the part about ragging. Currently, I teach first year MBBS students and the pattern is all so similar. They arrive in fear, get ragged, never complain, and somehow live out the abuse and humiliation which supposedly ends after a fresher party. But their attitude towards the ‘seniors’ who ragged them once is completely the opposite. The juniors seem ready to go into hysteria of joy at the mere sight of such seniors. The seniors are not just ‘respected’ but are actually admired. I have seen somewhat similar attitude from the supporters (party workers) of prominent politicians.

    Yes, it is about hierarchy and power equations at work. And the ones being ragged sometimes accept it in expectation of the perks which come along. Perks such as books, notes, study advice, advice in general, free snacks in the canteen, parties, etc. in case of MBBS students which they expect from their seniors. It is about the need for survival for many juniors. My female colleague accepts ragging as valid since she received a lot of ‘help’ from her seniors during her MBBS. This same female has been having serious issues with her mother-in-law. But somehow, she misses to see the association between the two things.

    Secondly, as the article rightly pointed out, people indulging in ragging always have issues with their self esteem. In today’s competitive world, respect is hard to find. This lack of respect as an individual starts right from childhood when parents are either dominating or aggressive towards their own children. Such people jump at the slightest opportunity which may give them some importance. Fear is an efficient tool to get importance. Those placed higher in the hierarchy terrorize the subordinates and in return get that importance which is actually out of fear. It’s just that they call it as respect.

    In most arranged marriage scenarios in India, the groom and his family grab at the one opportunity they get in their lives to impose themselves to feel important. A groom and his family who are otherwise of no good can be seen acting as the lords and masters during the wedding. The bride’s family ‘respect’ the baraatis for their own need of ‘survival’ in the society since their daughter is being accepted as a bride after all. The need for survival coming into work again. Dowry is illegal. But does anyone complain ?

    Also, some individuals (though I doubt the real percentage) indulge in ragging as a sort of revenge of the ragging they themselves went through. A very common excuse from raggers begins as “we were also ragged”. Though they don’t have the courage to stand up to those who abused them (either because of fear or in expectation of perks) they are ready to take it all out on entirely different set of mostly innocent individuals.

    I say ‘mostly’ innocent because I recently came to know through interaction with my students that there are some people who actually enjoy being ragged. I don’t know whether it is just the perverseness of their minds or the ‘license to rag’ which they seem to acquire after being ragged. Maybe it is just sadistic pleasure. But the truth is, most people are still accepting getting ragged, either actively or passively. But most new raggers use the excuse of “we were ragged too”.

    Haven’t we heard the phrase – ‘kyunki saas bhi kabhi bahu thi’ ?

    It was great to read the possible solutions to this menace at different levels in the article above. It seems in the Indian scenario, institutes are not really interested to address the issue. Thus, it becomes all the more important to tackle it at the level of the individual.

    A few days ago I saw a couple of ‘social experiment’ videos on Youtube where newcomers in a college-classroom were exposed to institutional violence. All of the students remained quiet and instead of intervening to stop the fight, some actually participated after being threatened by a group of two or three seniors. I have asked this to the batch of nearly 150 MBBS students I teach that why is it that merely 3 or 4 seniors can instill fear in the minds of a class of 150 with everyone remaining silent spectators to abuse being meted out to their batchmates ? But I didn’t get any answers.

    The bystander phenomenon was so evident in the Nirbhaya case as well. The mindset seems to be that as long I’m not the target, I’m good. People don’t stand up for their colleagues. Once again, the need of survival comes into work. Some derive pleasure at others’ expense. But eventually, no one complains.

    With a new batch due in a few months, I have been thinking on how to get this simple message across into the minds of the students that bullying and ragging is a crime. I wish we could make use of some social experiments. I would really like to share the above article with as many people as possible too. Thank you once again for this !

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    • Shobit, thank you for sharing your experiences. It’s especially valuable because it is more recent/current than my experiences in India (I was wondering how much things have changed since I went to college in 2 decades ago). Some thoughts on what you could do with the new batch –
      1) include ‘ragging culture’ as a talk/topic of discussion during orientation (the talk could provide info on how ragging is unhealthy to the emotional health of the students – something medical students should be especially sensitive to)
      2) maintain the concern through regular monthly discussions on the topic – have a Q and A session and encourage lots of input and ideas – this going to require a good facilitator – it would be great if a senior about to graduate could do this instead of faculty – thus the info is seen as still coming from an “insider” and is therefore less threatening and more relatable
      3) set up a buddy system – each incoming student is paired with a senior who will take responsibility with helping the fresher figure out where to go, what to do for various things (if only a couple of people sign up for this, that’s okay – it must be voluntary, not forced)
      4) if there is even one success story, have the fresher and senior buddy team talk about it with pride at the monthly meeting – if the fresher feels inspired and wants to volunteer being a buddy to someone else next year, they are demonstrating a way to break the cycle in a positive way
      5) since it’s a medical college, there must be a psychiatry and/or a social health department – invite experts who can present their research and findings on the damaging effects of ragging on mental health

      It’s great that you want to do something about it. We need to stop being bystanders if we want our country to change.

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  6. I’m from a very recent Engineering batch in Chennai, and I think ragging is recognized as a serious problem. There is counseling for seniors, and there is a professor deputed to handle such issues. I was bullied by a close family member for money (shame!), and the professor handled the situation very well. There was some really awful seniors against who NCs were filed in the local police station.

    I hear medical colleges have it worse. That’s just too bad.

    Definitely a problem that needs to be fixed, I really like the way my college did it, including filing NCs! Hopefully other people can follow suit.

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  7. Hi,
    Very nice article!!!
    I have a few points to make though:
    We always talk about power structure and hierarchy and say that the rich exploit the poor, the men exploit women etc.. But I have seen a lot of cases in my neighborhood and even among st friends where the rich person is always taunted and automatically people assume that a rich kid will be a brat and if a rich kid has come up it must be due to influence etc. The same goes with men too, though a lot of women are exploited there are men too who are treated like garbage by women for no fault of theirs by women who exploit the whole system. Is it just that bullies have an inherent tendency to put others down irrespective of gender and the rich poor divide?
    My neighbor was molested by her driver for a period of time and this girl did not have the courage to tell anyone. Finally she confided in me and then when the driver was called and removed from duty, he immediately spread false rumors about that family and people actually believed him because he was poor and was being exploited.
    Another of my hostel mates was molested by the watchman and when she raised alarm same story followed..
    Another of my guy friends was falsely accused of molestation by his maid simply because he caught her stealing from the house and when he complained about it she was removed from work, so she spread false rumors that he molested her…Thankfully she admitted as soon as his father said that he will call the police. My very good friend at work was accused by our colleague as he was not responding to her advances and so she said she was being sexually harassed by him. It took a couple of months to prove he was not guilty and finally she was terminated.
    These are just some examples that I seen personally but I am sure there a hundreds of cases where the rich person was exploited by the poor as these people use their status as a trump card.
    I personally believe that people who are bullies are bullies irrespective of gender and hierarchy. Also I can understand children being bullies and they being sent for counselling etc, but then after a certain age everybody knows right from wrong, atleast in such issues but they simply continue their behavior by blaming their past. As adults we all can control our emotions and actions, so why is that these so called adult bullies cannot do the same? I don’t think they are unaware of their consequences; on the contrary they are happy with the consequences of their actions and hence continue with them. The bullies in the above case were completely aware of the consequences of their actions and had no remorse absolutely. They just admitted their fault and openly said that they did it only to settle scores.
    So I think it’s just best to learn how to spot such people and stay away from them because how can we change someone who does not want to change, who is very happy and proud of their action and has absolutely no remorse.

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    • AG, even in these situations, it still goes back to abuse of power. A man in an expensive car who runs over a poorer pedestrian who is clearly at fault for jaywalking through busy traffic, can be mobbed by a bunch of poor people on the street, possibly even beaten. Here it is the poor who temporarily hold power (on the street) in terms of numbers. When the same poor person (or even a middle class person with no connections) gets his small piece of land stolen by a broker, the rich broker can pay off the govt and court officials – here it’s the power of money and connections. When the rich broker gets his daughter married, the boy’s side can harass them for gifts, and make them exhaust their entire life’s savings. Here it’s the abuse of male entitlement and privilege.
      In all of these situations, there is no honest attempt to determine who is right/wrong, no desire for fairness, rather an eagerness to take advantage of one’s position, be it strength in numbers, money, connections, or gender.

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  8. AG: “I can understand children being bullies and they being sent for counselling etc, but then after a certain age everybody knows right from wrong, atleast in such issues but they simply continue their behavior by blaming their past. As adults we all can control our emotions and actions, so why is that these so called adult bullies cannot do the same? ”

    Yes and no. Yes, children deserve help, support, counseling, whatever it takes.

    Whether adults should take responsibility or need help is an ongoing debate.

    1)There are some adults who clearly understand the consequences and still engage in mean, hurtful behavior – these people are best checked by law enforcement.

    2) There are adults who have less control over their actions and can suffer from various emotional issues (anger management, emotional regulation, anxiety, mild paranoia or mild xenophobia) that are not full blown mental illnesses but still interfere with regular functioning and can cause bullying behavior.

    3) There are adults with full blown mental illnesses like clinical depression, schizophrenia, psychopathy – in a society that doesn’t fully recognize or accept mental illness, these people may be getting married and having kids and holding responsible positions, instead of getting help and recovering.

    People in categories (2) and (3) still need help and counseling for any long term solution to happen. But the laws still apply to them. Their bullying behavior cannot be excused on grounds of psychological reasons. If they are unfit to function on a campus or a professional setting, they need to be removed from the setting, seek help, and be allowed to return upon recovery.

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    • Suffering from anger management, anxiety, depression or even psychopathy doesn’t necessarily turn you into a bully. In fact studies suggest bullies are more likely to be what shrinks call “perverts”.

      I think it is a waste of time to focus on the perpetrators. It’s more efficient to focus on the victims, and try to understand what makes people accept bullying in order to teach them how to defend themselves. I would say many victims have a low self esteem before the bullying starts.

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  9. I know ragging has dramatically decreased in both engineering and medical colleges since the 1990s. Now it’s treated quite seriously. I have cousins in engineering college and they said they were “ragged” in the sense that they were asked to sing or dance in front of seniors or asked to write love letters to seniors. Or even asked to wear their school uniforms for a day, But nothing physical. I don’t think this type of ragging is very harmful. Is it?

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    • Glad to hear it’s decreasing in some colleges and being taken seriously.

      I still have a problem with being asked to sing and dance and write love letters. It’s wrong in principle and reeks of entitlement. I think they need to understand that freshers are not puppets.

      The school uniform thing sounds humiliating. It’s one thing to act silly and don funny clothes yourself – we call that sense of humor. It’s quite another to MAKE someone wear something for your personal amusement. That’s degrading.

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    • It’s definitely harmful. Ragging is all about humiliating someone, irrespective of whether its physical or not. Would it be acceptable if you hail someone walking on the street and ask them to sing or dance? If that’s not acceptable, this isn’t either. The fact that they feel it is acceptable just means they think they are in power and can FORCE other people to behave in ways they would not otherwise for their own amusement. Why should anyone, taken individually, be forced to sing or dance for anyone else? Even prisoners are not made to sing and dance, and are compensated for their work.

      I have been strongly against ragging ever since a male friend who went to engineering college was asked to strip and dance, along with three of his classmates. He shrugged it off and moved forward (or so he said), but not everyone could have done that.

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  10. I have a diff experience, our college was known for its ragging, especially by the senior girls. we joined and as hostelites were a bit worried, there was a freshers meet typew thing and in that there were 2 guys , NRI’s who basically came to know what was to happen and their attitude was so diff ( atleast to us then) they asked us if everyone ragged and we told them it would be some seniors, not all . and that we didnt enjoy that, it was know to be very humiliating they took one look at he group of about 200 and laughed long and hard and said what is a handful against 200. laid out a plan and pretty much coached us i should say and guess what no ragging that yer and from then on for many many yrs too🙂
    we looked the seniors int he eye and told them a simple NO. and walked away, not one of them dared to do a thing. not even in the hostel. of course they were not happy but i found we bonded as a group ( the freshers) and to this day are a much more cohesive group. we never ragged our juniors either and we threw our jr’s an awesome party.

    It took 2 outsiders ( kind of) to tel us to stand together and show our displeasure. much to mgmgt’s joy i should say, trouble free year and that didnt mean we didnt like our seniors we were friends alright after all we had the profs and warden as a common enemy🙂

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    • This is so heartwarming to read! Why don’t we realize our strength in numbers? Same thing goes for harassment on buses and trains …. if everyone on the bus stood up to the offender, he’s going to slink away like the coward he is.
      You are right – this is all it takes, people standing up for each other.
      People watching an offense mutely, or worse, sucking up to the offender to gain favors is what brings us all down.

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  11. This is a biggest problem and I agree we need to take measures to combat that. Having said this, there are different types of raggings. Some of my class mates thoroughly enjoyed it, they really seem to have fun with the whole process and in the end, they ended up becoming good friends with the people who ragged. Some did not. I was not ragged during my college. My observation was that they picked only those girls who seemed to be sportive and cool about the whole idea of ragging.

    My brother on the other hand, he was ragged to an extent that he was almost quit pursuing his education. It seemed very daunting & humiliating experience for him. It was plain mean and him not responding to their mean acts aggravated it further and they have made his life difficult. My father had to intervene and taken the matter to the attention of principal of the college. It is most prevalent in under graduate colleges and like my brother, many have suffered and some have even committed suicide.

    Now a days, most of the colleges have anti-ragging teams, but that doesn’t stop people from ragging and getting pleasure at some one else pain. This article is spot on in categorizing various mind sets that leads to bullying. To add on to the problem, media promotes the idea of bullying as well, especially in the movies that have young leads doing their undergrad.

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  12. I went to a government engineering college and fortunately there wasn’t much ragging in the college. But a few senior girls really took it upon themselves to humiliate freshers and I remember a lot of us taking a detour to our class when we spotted those girls. There were also a few rowdy seniors who harassed freshers under the pretext of ragging. However professors, lecturers were quite approachable and instilled confidence that they would take care of any ugly situation. But I know for sure that hostelites had it really bad – everyone was ragged/harassed. I lived with my parents so was spared but I felt so bad for this really smart, strong girl in my class who faced a lot of ragging for not blending in. We are still best of friends. As seniors we never indulged in any ragging. A lot of my friends were my juniors in college and I was very happy to be their guide/mentor back then.

    Now about the ragging/bullying at workplace – I have seen it abundantly. Several of my bosses were hopeless bullies who sucked the life out of my work experience. And the useless HR only enabled these sicksters. From my side I refused to give up and have kept looking for ways to retaliate. I firmly believe that these office bullies are natural progression of college raggers.

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    • True Kavs..
      I think it’s a natural progression for school/college bullies to become workplace bullies.
      At college we had to sing and dance for our seniors, write their assignments and worse still there was this senior of mine who stayed in the same colony as me. The college bus stop was 4 kms away from home so either we had to walk or take an auto and go there.
      Now as a part of ragging 1st students were never allowed to sit during the entire journey and our college was 35 kms away from home. Post all the standing this senior guy would demand that I walk back home with him and not take an auto and I had to sing for him all along the way too!!!!
      I used to have severe back pain during my period days and in spite of telling him that I am unwell he would insist and taunt me saying that “are you some princess that you can’t bear even this pain”..I used to come home and cry and this was my routine. My poor parents tried talking to the guy and even asked me to fight back but nothing happened. In fact since my parents spoke to him the teasing became more as they started calling me “Daddy’s little girl” and told me that if I am so sensitive I should sit at home…
      I could never become friends with him though later he really liked me and was keen on being friends with me, somehow the whole experience put me off.
      Till date I wonder how someone can become friends with people who treated them so badly just because they were in power? How can all that humiliation convert into friendship? Some girls even ended up marrying those horrible seniors and today are serving these boys as their wives. And these boys have now become bullies as husbands too and the surprising thing is that the girls are so proud that they were chosen by seniors and they proudly claim that ragging helped them find their spouse and that it’s manliness to be a bully..I don’t even know how to react to such statements.

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      • This is sick… Though I never had any problem in standing up against ragging (quite vocally too), I knew people who were really scared and went through a horrible time. Surprising that the guy kept misbehaving even after your parents intervened. Usually, bullies tend to back off when parents get involved na?

        Even I was proposed by this guy who tried to rag me much much later. I couldnt bear to look at him let alone date him. It was not that I was vengeful or anything. I saw his true colors and didnt like it one bit.

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      • Your comment reminds me of several instances of young boys/grown up men expressing their crush for a girl in weird ways. It’s like they are afraid of society laughing at them for having a crush, so they express it in hostile ways – cat calling, aggressive confrontation etc in a manner that reeks of immaturity and entitlement. But the part that befuddles the HELL out of me is how some girls actually coyly seem to LIKE this mode of “courtship”. It almost seems like a secret and false sense of coy smugness from knowing that a “senior” guy who is ill treating and disrespecting them actually likes them. The problem with this is that, this ill treatment continues even after the relationship develops further and yet the girl does not see it for what it is.

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    • I graduated from a government engineering college around 18 years ago. I was considered an outsider and there would be batches of bullies waiting to harass me the first year. Now I never took to bullying and to this day never do even here, I have been in corporate America for 15 years. They would summon all the freshmen out after dinner to rag. I would simply refuse to go and the other girls in my batch would beg me to go. I would sit and read. They never had the balls to come up to me because they knew it was wrong.

      So these girls implored their guy classmates to “let me have it” in college. I still remember our class were getting over and there were about 20 or so guys waiting for me outside. I was scared ofcour i was a 17 year old. All my classmates bolted. I took a deep breath and stepped outside to be blocked by an idiot guy who asked me something and as i ignored him and proceeded to walk they began surrounding me. Now this was the wolf pack surrounding a deer mentality. I pushed the first guy out of my way and said if anybody touches me i will fuck them up. (Yea very naive, if you ask me now), but it was dire circumstance. I think it was the conviction with which i said it, they let me go. Never got harassed me again. The girls just got bitchy but ignored me made comments when i walked in a language i was not familiar with so who cared. They made girls in my batch humiliated by making them sing and dance and such nonsense. Sometimes you just have to stand up for yourself.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You are pretty brave ! Sometimes bitchy girls ,classmate makes one question if its that big a deal ! But it is – you don’t want to sing and dance in front of voyeuristic guys and girls who are sitting there so that they can pass a judgement on you later !
        Nobody should be made to all this crap if they don’t want to do it !! Even if its lighthearted banter !!

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  13. In my college ragging was pretty simple like sing and dance and propose and it was still bad, real bad..
    I never became friends with the seniors who did that.
    When my turn came, I didn’t go to interact with the juniors but few of my classmates went.
    I could not convince them to not to go..
    In workplace, I was once subjected to bullying I promptly raised it with the senior management before going to the HR.
    The bully who was my team lead apologised. It helps that in our company we have a pretty strong policy in place against bullying. But even then, I have seen team mates being bullied mercilessly. They do not take it up with the HR or senior management.

    Bullying is so bad. So so bad…

    Like

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