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)?


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


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:




Even if Poonam does not run naked, she should be punished?

Model Poonam Pandey’s plan to strip if India beat Sri Lanka Saturday has angered the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) women’s wing which has sought police action against her.

“Indian women are revered and respected since time immemorial…”

How exactly do we show this reverence to women? Please do compare this to how we show respect to everybody else.

Can threats be called ‘respect’?

I have so much respect for you; don’t ask to eat with the rest of the family. Your happiness lies in seeing us enjoy the food you cook.”  Is that respect?

So basically,

If you disagree we can’t respect you.

Don’t try to give your point of view, we won’t be able to respect you…

Little girls earn this respect by respecting the fact that they are always second to their brothers. “What’s wrong with that, don’t they love their brothers?

It’s more like a Terror of Respect.

Do as you are told or else we will not ‘respect’ you.

Dress only the way we permit or else…

Don’t choose your life partner or else…

Let your husband and his family abuse you, or else…

Give us a male heir or else…

Don’t enter the temple, you are impure…

And worst,

Don’t complain if you were sexually harassed, molested or abused or else no respect.

So, when it comes to women, it seems respect is more a means to control than a privilege.

I would say the only kind of respect that matters is the respect we have for ourselves. Or Respect that is given in return of respectequal and mutual. All other forms of reverence and respect are not too far from ‘honor’ and ‘honor killing’ or honor related abetted suicides.

Kelkar objected to Poonam ‘sullying the image of Indian women before the whole world.’ (Read Bhagwad’s objections to granting Poonam such powers)

Another man thinks her actions can sully the name of his caste. So obviously this lawyer believes there are no Brahmin rapists, child abusers  and murderers? Or these crimes don’t insult Indian culture?

“Even if Poonam does not run naked, she should be punished as she not only gave a wrong impression of the (Brahmin) community but insulted Indian culture,” The case will be heard April 5. (Today)

We live in an India where some people can legally express their arrogant, sexist and casteist opinions and offend my democratic and tolerant sentiments. I find it difficult to understand or ‘respect’ such frivolous objections. Are they doing this for free publicity? In a country where rape victims have to wait for years for justice, aren’t such cases a waste of time and resources?

Thankfully we are a civilized, democratic society. Poonam Pandey, Rakhi Sawant and Mallika Sherawat are generally free to ignore these opinions or react (if required) through a civilized, legal process.  No stoning. No anti-blasphemy laws.

And that is something I respect about my country. 🙂

Women who value the respect they have for themselves more than the respect of every wannbe politician, publicity seeker, neighour’s third cousin etc are able to fight back.

Sraboney shared this video where this Pakistani actor Veena Mallik is fighting back against similar allegations. Makes me wonder if hypocrites are the same everywhere.

The interference of parents in the married life of their daughters…

Pallavi shared this link.

‘The interference of parents in the married life of their daughters has become a major cause for playing havoc with the lives of young couples post marriage, the Delhi high court has said.

Daughter are supposed to become paraya dhan once they are given away in kanyadan, and any Indian man and his family would be justified in wanting a divorce if a woman’s  parents forget that.

Why I’d worry about any such biased and generalized statements. Because they encourage Indian parents to continue to disown their married daughters. Happily-Married-Daughters bring approval of the neighbours’ uncle’s nephew’s third cousin’s grandfather, so even if a married daughter is unhappy, she is advised to please adjust, or die trying. Having no one to turn to, makes her less equal and exposes her to abuse, exploitation and harassment.

Also, even if the parents were interfering in the case mentioned, it does not mean that this is becoming a trend. The idea that a woman’s parents have no right to support her once she is married, and an adult male needs to be mothered all his life, is changing and this change should be welcomed.

I wonder why there was no mention of ‘parental interference’ in these cases.


Allegations that the mother-in-law kicked the daughter-in-law with her leg, told her that her mother was a liar, poisoned the ears of her son against the daughter in law, had been giving perpetual sermons and threatened her with divorce. [link]


Bombay HC held that in-laws’ insistence on sari can’t amount to cruelty under the Hindu Marriage Act. [My response here.]

Deciding what an adult son’s adult spouse wears is not interference?


Another mother “filed an affidavit that the daughter in law works 8 am to 8 30 pm, but does ‘no additional work’ at home.

Was this seen as interference?


And just how much do an Indian daughter’s parents interfere for it to have ‘become a major cause for playing havoc’ with their daughter’s marriages?

In Haryana a son beat his wife in the presence of her parents, for wearing jeans when she went shopping with them.

‘…the police promptly dispatched the battered woman … to her in-laws house, terming it as a “family matter”. No case was filed.

Promptly dispatched to her in-laws house, a paraya dhan‘s rightful home once she is married.


Bollywood went out of it’s way to show loving a married daughter could lead to breaking her marriage.

How would you see this scene from ‘Phagun’ (1973)  if Waheeda Rehman was the husband’s mother and not Jaya Bhaduri’s?

Related posts:

No Jeans for Indian Daughters in law.

Can’t end marriage over sari.

Loving sons who devote their days and night to maintain peace in the family.

(and many , many more)

Do you remember this murdered couple who made a ‘dramatic reappearance’?

Let me try to explain why I generally find it difficult to believe what the police says.

“Lucknow, May 9 – A couple in Uttar Pradesh declared dead by police in an ‘honour killing’ Sunday made a dramatic reappearance, even as an incensed father threw his daughter from the roof of his house after her ’secret’ marriage, while another girl was killed for insisting on marrying according to her choice.

Ajit Saini and Anju Tomar of Muzaffarnagar district, who were declared dead by police after disappearing for the past few days, followed by the identification of a highly mutilated body as that of Saini, showed up before the police in the district.

Anju’s brother, Anuj was arrested Saturday and admitted to murdering Ajit.

‘I hacked him for the sake of honour… I wanted to save the prestige of my family and, therefore, killed him,’ Anuj told reporters. Police suspected that Anuj had killed his sister as well.

Saini and Anju had eloped, and on reading news reports about their ‘murder’, promptly called one of their relatives who, in turn, informed the Muzaffarnagar police.

Additional Director General of Police Brij Lal however maintained that the police were not at all at fault. ‘The police most naturally believed the confession by Anju’s brother. And what further confirmed the theory was the identification of the body by Ajit’s own family members,’ he said.” [Link]

This is just one such case, there are sure to be more like the teenager who was raped in Banda and then accused of stealing a cell phone to protect the rapist, “During preliminary inquiry, it was found that the 17-year-old girl was not only raped by the member of legislative assembly, but was also framed in a false theft case

How difficult would it have been to get a “confession” from Rajesh Talwar if it had not become such a high profile case’?

Dr Talwar said,

1.”I pleaded with this man to at least let me make a phone call or call a lawyer. I said, “I’m entitled to it. It’s my fundamental right as a citizen of this country.” The magistrate just looked at me in disgust. “Ja yahan se” (Get out of here).”

2. “The policemen produced a paper and asked me to sign it, and I had the presence of mind to tell them I will not sign anything. …I kept screaming that I was being framed. By this time the TV channels were all over the place… A policeman was saying, “Hum tere ko maar denge” – “We will kill you.”

3. They forced me to sign a confession. I wrote on the piece of paper in Englishwhich they couldn’t readthat it was not true.

4. Goli had been in and out of prison all his life, for small thefts, and so on. Apparently he would be picked up by the police whenever they needed a suspect for some crime.

Who do you think killed Aarushi Talwar?

I find it impossible to believe that her parents killed Aarushi Talwar. I have been following the case from day one and what was most glaring was the incompetence of the investigating authorities. Even a child knows about avoiding new finger prints at the place of crime, inspecting the entire house and use of luminol, examination of hair, blood samples etc, all of which were ignored in the beginning. Her parents also asked for forensic science to be used – which doesn’t seem to have happened yet.

When I discussed this with some friends one said, the parents didn’t look like they were grieving, but that means nothing, because they must have been in shock. I remember Nitish Katara‘s mother had the same look on her face.

Another argument about how they did not hear any thing that night. That does happen with windows AC, it’s very common in fact. There was another case in East Delhi where the live-in servant injured the three children, two died and the third one managed to wake up the parents who had heard nothing because their AC was on.

The golf clubs that made the CBI suspicious have been found to have no had blood on them.

So what happened?

It’s possible that Hemraj allowed some intruders, known to him, to come inside the house and maybe they had a drink or two and then maybe they went to the terrace and since Hemraj didn’t want them to stay for any further mischief, and since he was a witness, they killed him.  After killing him they killed Arushi also and left without any difficulty.

Do you think Aarushi’s parents could have killed her? If yes, why would they do that?

The ‘Honor Killing’ angle that UP police tried to give in the beginning, is difficult to accept, because the parents could have counseled the child, sent her to a hostel and they could have demanded that the servant to goes back to Nepal.

Parents killing their only child, born eleven years after their marriage – is difficult to believe.

There is no mention of Aarushi having any behavioral issues, which abused children tend to display. She was doing well at school. The family had also arranged for her to go to her Nani’s house in NOIDA, every day after school, so she wasn’t alone at home. Does all this indicate the kind of parents who could kill their child?

What do you think?


Before you make up your mind, do take a look at what Tehelka says here. (Thank You Megha)


Guardian’s attempt to stop woman from marrying genuine suitor a crime …soon.

A news article says that one in every 16 women above 32 in Saudi Arabia is  forced to stay unmarried.

“There are a variety of reasons behind this phenomenon including unemployment, a housing shortage and obsolete social traditions.

Al-Fouzan urged men to find wives closer to their age. “This would help reduce the number of unmarried women,” he said. [Link, “Four Million single women in Saudi Arabia by 2015“]

A group of young Saudi men have launched a campaign to convince Saudi men of the unappreciated virtues of polygamy.

Eman Al Nafjan, a Saudi blogger who often writes about women’s issues, said…

“… they want to convince the men to marry older women… The men want virgins, not older women or divorcees. The problem is that we have a lot of women in their late 20s or 30s who are not married and which men are not interested in, while the young ladies don’t want to be the second wife as their first marriage.”

Saudi men see polygamy as their right and prefer to marry young girls. Dowry – given by the husband to the bride’s father, makes it easier for richer, often older men to marry young women. Girls are often forced into such marriages.

Some academics are suggesting that suicide, especially among the young, is increasing. “…80 percent of these cases involved girls or young women. Causes included domestic abuse, favoritism expressed by parents toward male siblings, forced marriage and preventing marriage…”

The HRC is also seeking to include forced marriage as a human trafficking crime. A common motive for forced marriage is a father’s attempt to strengthen bonds between families or friends, often in exchange for a dowry that the father steals from his daughter.

In some cases women, especially employed women, are prevented from getting married by their fathers, who deny them permission, out of concern of losing the household income. From the comments that follow this article it seems girls supporting their families is appreciated although Saudi girls are not allowed to drive and they can’t buy a car with their hard earned money, without a male guardian’s permission.
Once married whatever they earn, they might have to hand over to their husband who might otherwise ‘boot’ them out of their home. [link]

“…the rising number of Saudi men marrying non-Saudi women is also contributing to the rise of single Saudi women.” Under current Saudi rules, Saudi women are not allowed to marry foreign men unless under exceptional circumstances. (This too is likely to change).

“…more and more young Saudi women are well educated, financially independent and exposed to different ways of thinking about themselves, relationships and their roles in society… this leads many young Saudi women to refuse the advances of men seeking to take a second, third or fourth wife.

Some women seek out foreign men, in the hopes that they will not end up in a polygamous marriage.


All Saudi women are not unaware of injustice in the situation, they do object, question, and even write about it. Are young men finding ways to rebel too?

Last month, the HRC announced its effort to include the crime of adhl in the Kingdom’s official definition of human trafficking, which would codify a punishment of up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to SR1 million to any guardian found guilty of preventing a woman’s right to marry a man otherwise deemed acceptable by Shariah.

Along with these changes, would it not be simpler if everybody had control over their own income? And some day, also over their own lives?

“An ordinary fight with wife…”

Indian diplomat in Britain claims immunity on wife-beating charge.

Diplomat transferred from London after wife-beating charges

He (Anil Verma) … suddenly flew into a rage over the fact that there was a Christmas tree in the house … given to them from one of Paromita’s relatives.

“He stormed up the stairs to grab the tree and throw it out but Paromita …tried to stop him because their son had been decorating it. He suddenly turned round and punched her full in the face, very hard…

“She was screaming and blood was pouring from her nose like a tap…

“The front door was open and Paromita ran outside, …. Neighbours took her into their house to comfort her until the police arrived,” the daily said..”

If he was in India he would not have needed to claim any immunity. His neighbours would have protected him. Take a look at two of the comments following the news article. My response in red.


On: 17 Jan 2011 02:19 am

In my view, our Indian government authorities and the people should think, what led him to this situation.These days it is hard to believe some of our Indian women who are well aware of law abuse due to western influence.Who knows she is well guided by one of her friends with vested interests.

– The only thing that ‘lead him to this situation’ is the abuser’s confidence that the victim would tolerate the abuse. Unfortunately, Western or Indian influences don’t protect victims from violence.  Dev should read about victims who have successfully fought back against Domestic Violence – because they had support.


Another comment. My response in red.

By: Ram
On: 10 Jan 2011 10:29 am

We should consider the following things before making any assertions

1.Has the woman complained to police or not. Just becoz som neighbors reported and the person involved is diplomat the police should not take action or media should not give vast coverage.

– Do we recommend leaving the victim alone in any other crime? Domestic Violence is a crime, though the abuser would like it to be seen as ‘a family matter’.

2.If voilence has happened what is the extent of physical injury that has hapeened to the lady.

– How much injury is permitted? If the injury is not severe does the violence become acceptable? What about what the violence does to the self respect of the victim? It is not surprising that victims hesitate to complain.

3.Most couples fight (some times voilently) and scream when there is difference of opinion and they settle it with in few minutes or few days. An external involvement will aggrevate the differences and cause irreparble damage to relationship (between husband and wife).

– Once there is violence in a relationship, irreparable damage has already been done.  The victim needs external involvement. The abuser does not welcome ‘external involvement’ (except when he is sure of being supported, like from his family elders in India). Isolating the victim is important for the abuse to continue.

4.An ordinary fight with wife, should not be a reason to recall or to force to resign from such a high profile post or for that matter any other person.

– This is not an ‘ordinary fight with wife’. Domestic Violence (verbal or physical) is a crime.

5.Hence the Indian high commission stance to allow or to expect the matter to be resolved between husband and wife to their mutual satisfaction is highly appreciable.

– “The ‘Daily Mail’ also reported that Paromita has gone into hiding with her five-year-old son as she fears for her life. She left the home soon after the incident and has not returned since then.”

6.Last but not least, any couples should not get provoked and endup in this type of situations, especially those who are in responsible position like representing a country and or attract media attention.

–  The attempt to make it look like a ‘couples’ matter’ is also an abuse and many victims are lead to believe that they are responsible for the violence.

The abuser committed a crime. If he had punched anybody else there would have been no excuses.

This is something the abuser did to the victim, not something a couple did together by getting ‘provoked’.


What makes victims, their many well wishers and commenters like Dev and Ram above believe that abuse and violence is  ‘an ordinary fight with a wife‘?

How does an educated and seemingly confident woman allow herself to be abused?

Naomi Ackerman’s powerful monologue, which I found on Desi Girl’s blog explains how abuse begins and continues. Do share these amazing, eye-opening  videos with others.

Video 1

Video 2

Video 3

A Sari to make you a Respectable Indian Teacher.

A local government college in Bhopal has banned jeans pants for lady teachers instructing them to wear saris while in the campus.

A spokesman of the management of Sarojini Naidu (Nutan) College said that the decision was taken to instil Indian culture in the college.

He said that till now, teachers were wearing salwar suits, kurtas and jeans due to which it was sometimes difficult to distinguish between them and students.

The spokesman said that a similar decision on enforcing a dress code for students would also be enforced from the next session.

“A dress code for students cannot be enforced during the middle of an academic session,” he said.

Or watch the news here.

“There is a personality of a teacher. You are standing wearing anything, or jeans that look vulgar, that is not right. Even students do not respect you as they think. So, this is very important,” said Pandit. (A teacher)

Should colleges be telling the students that traditional clothing can make a female wearer look ‘respectable‘? And so not wearing a sari does exactly the opposite?

Why is a salwar kameez – very much a traditonal Indian outfit, less respectable?

One assumption could be that the sari makes a woman look older. Also traditionally, in some parts of India, all married women must wear sari. I have blogged about meeting someone who thought that married women who do not wear sari are doing it behind their in laws’ and husband’s backs.

Bombay High Court held that a marriage can’t be ended over a sari.

The college could to be trying to say that a teacher in a sari is seen as older and ‘respectably married’ (or at least marriageable).

This is how stereotypes are created.

Is it okay for a college to ask the students to associate ‘respect’ (or honor!) with sari and vulgarity with Jeans?

“In thousands of ways, our culture has conditioned us to anticipate rape as a natural consequence of violating social norms”. These misconceptions are responsible for women blaming themselves for sexual crimes against themselves (…makes it easier for those who don’t care to take action).

The male teachers are not expected to wear dhoti and achkan. Doesn’t the college think the students need to respect the male teachers too? Why teach the students that double standards and gender bias are acceptable?

Has the college really given this a thought? There are many who think sari is ‘sensual’.  Jeans are actually seen as comfortable and easy wear, and saris as ‘dressy’ by many others. Many others feel sari is not easy to maintain or move in, and not weather appropriate, while jeans and salwar kameez are.

Also consider why is it so essential for the female teachers (if at all) to look ‘different from students’? What if a teacher continues to look like one of the students (i.e. young and unmarried) no matter what she wears?

And most importantly, shouldn’t an adult female wearer (like the rest of the population) be trusted to decide what is appropriate for her to wear?

Compare this news from Bhopal to this news from Lahore,

Jeans, Body Hugging Dresses Banned in Lahore College fearing Terror Threats.

Related Posts:

Not Just a Pair of Jeans

No Jeans for a Indian Daughters in law.

The way a woman dresses…

Provocatively Dressed.

Indian women have lots to learn from Elizabeth Edwards.

One day this September my son had cried angrily, “Such things only happen to us, all these well known people and celebrities live such happy lives.” My sister sent me links to show him, links to stories of well known people who also lost their children and faced challenges. That’s when I first heard of Elizabeth Edwards. She had lost her 16 year old son Wade to a car accident in 1996.

Their second child, a daughter Cate, was then 14. Elizabeth Edwards later had two more children, Emma Claire in 1998 and Jack in 2000. In 2004 she was diagnosed with breast cancer. The youngest children were 4 and 6 then.

Elizabeth Edwards was a successful attorney who became a national figure as her husband’s political partner and the author of books that chronicled her cancer and grief …

She wrote in ‘Saving Graces’, “I had promised myself he (her husband) will never have to hear bad news again. He and our elder daughter Cate had suffered too much already. Our Son Wade had been killed in an auto accident eight years earlier and we had been through worst life could deal us.

But her life became tabloid fodder during Edwards’ bid for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. The National Enquirer reported that he had had an affair with Rielle Hunter, who had been hired as a videographer for the campaign, and had fathered a child with her.

An article said she lived a mother’s worst nightmare when she lost her son Wade and then another nightmare now when she realized she was dying and her children were only 12 and 10. How are they going to cope? I realised I was not the only one thinking of her youngest children. I found this inspiring post called, “16 things Elizabeth Edwards children need to know.

From what I have read about her, I have no doubt  that she has given them all that she could to prepare them for a life without her. She died yesterday. She was 61.



Dying statements of vengeful women settling scores by attempting suicide.

Sometime in 1985 traveling by the DTC, I saw a woman moaning in terrible pain on the seat next to mine. She had swallowed rat poison and was being taken to a hospital half an hour away for Emergency Treatment. In a crowded bus. The person accompanying her did not seem concerned or sympathetic.

When I discussed this, one of the commonest reactions was, Oh these women know very well rat poison/pouring kerosene on themselves is not going to kill them, they just want to threaten their in laws.” It wasn’t considered odd that any woman should feel (if they did) that the only way to ‘get back’ at their in-laws was by hurting themselves (and risking death).

On the other hand one does hear about self immolation and suicide as desperate forms of protest.

Women hurting themselves to ‘settle scores’ with their in laws were (are?) generally seen as unaccommodating, head strong and vengeful troublemakers. The court seemed to blame this burns victim too,

“It appears that the marriage between the accused Om Prakash and the victim Janak Kumari proved to be a failure and all efforts at restoring and re-establishing the matrimonial home had failed leading to utter frustration in the mind of Janak Kumari. She probably felt convinced in her mind that she had no other escape except to finish herself which course would also enable her avenging her grievance and settling scores with the accused persons whom she thought were responsible for spoiling her life and leading her into immense misery.” [Link]

[Manushi discussed this case and asked if it was normal for women to commit suicide.]

Her husband and in laws were acquitted in the case above. I wonder if they felt guilt or sadness, or did they blame her for creating unnecessary trouble. What kind of adult did her then 7 year old daughter grow up to be?

Women in Afghanistan burn themselves too.

Reliable statistics on self-immolation nationwide are difficult to gauge. In Herat province, where the practice has been most reported and publicized, there were 93 cases last year and 54 so far this year. More than 70 percent of these women die.”It’s all over the country. … The trend is upward…” [Link]

Why would someone choose to die by burning? Why don’t we hear of women self immolating in Europe and the US? Maybe because they have the option of walking out of an unbearable situation?

In 1993 a young domestic helper living in a servants’ quarters in our building died of burns. The husband said he was watching TV outside the kitchen door and heard nothing. Everybody heard the screams but nobody could say what happened clearly.  Shock seems to do this to people. The girl’s parents suspected the husband since he was the only one around and the house was shut from inside, but they were too distraught to take any action. The husband remarried very soon afterward.

In another case which kept me awake many nights, the woman ran out of her house screaming for help. The neighbors couldn’t understand what was wrong, because her husband had changed her clothes when she was unconscious (due to burns) and at first the neighbours saw only her unburnt face. The burnt clothes were found in a plastic bag thrown outside a window. The woman first said her husband asked her to make tea and poured kerosene on her and set her on fire. Then she changed her statement and said she was responsible for her own death. She died a week later.

In both the cases the wives had attempted to leave the husbands and then went back to try and make their marriages work.

Read about one more such victim who tried very hard to be saved.

This news reminded me of the above victims. I wonder if she was seen as a woman being vengeful because whatever other changes she made in her statements, there is no contradiction.  She continued to blame the husband and his family. (The husband and his family were acquitted).

In the first dying declaration made to the doctor who prepared the medico legal case, the victim claimed she was compelled to immolate herself because of the mental stress caused by her in-laws and husband’s demands for more dowry.

The second dying declaration was made before police where Neha alleged she was taunted about getting less dowry and Sunil threatened to kill her by setting her on fire, and in anger she poured kerosene and set herself on fire.

Finally, in the third declaration recorded just before Neha’s death, she told the subdivisional magistrate that Sunil forced her to pour kerosene over herself and alight herself. She blamed all the three accused of compelling her to immolate herself. [Read More]

And I know of more than a few women (mainly domestic helpers from all parts of India) who have considered self immolation out of frustration. And nearly each one of them has, at some time, been threatened with burning (and drowning in one case).


One of them spoke bitterly of the time her husband poured kerosene on her.  She did not think he was going to strike the match, but she was soaked in kerosene and she tried to snatch it from him to put an end to the daily violence and threats. She was glad her husband managed to throw the match box out of her reach. She was glad she was alive for her children.  She felt her misery was no different from most women she knew.
But I wonder what her dying statement would have been if she had managed to grab that match box.