Hey teachers, leave us kids alone, we don’t need no thought control.
This Pink Floyd anthem is now being echoed across most Indian college campuses, thanks to the anti-ragging laws that students say have made the initial days of college life drab.
By strictly adhering to Supreme Court's orders meant CCTV cameras and vigilant wardens kept ragging at bay, many freshers and seniors felt it took the fun out of the usual “first day”.
But better boring than behind bars seemed to be the mantra with college principals and teachers who ensured enough warnings were displayed at the entrance, in corridors and even outside wash rooms.
So courtesy this over dose, while the freshers roamed freely, seniors were the ones running scared.
But what defines ragging and what differentiates it from harmless interactions? That was the buzz on CNN-IBN show India 360 conducted by Smitha Nair.
The participants of show were students – both seniors and freshers – from colleges in Delhi and Chennai and Principal of DU’s Hindu College Kavita Sharma.
Delhi vs Chennai: Rag to restrain story
In the Delhi University’s Gargi College – an all-girls college located in the south campus –posters declaring ‘Nice girls don't rag' have been put up at all prominent corners.
However, the girls of the college seem to have a fitting repartee to such declarations. “We don’t need such information as we know very well that ragging is banned,” said one senior student at DU’s Lady Sri Ram college.
Agreed another senior who believed ragging should not be made an ego issue. “Ragging should be forbidden if it makes anyone uncomfortable and should be done in a positive manner so that no one is intimidated,” she said.
So while seniors made it sound pretty harmless an exercise, freshers too didn’t seem to miss being ragged. Said one DU fresher, “I don’t miss getting ragged but I’ve come to know all my seniors because of the healthy interaction. That made all the difference,” she said.
In some cases, such was the camaraderie between the newcomers and the oldies that seniors gave out-station juniors company for dinner and interacted with them.
Interestingly, while most Delhi students agreed to disagree on ragging, they insisted a positive interaction was a must for an smooth initiation into college life.
“A clear line has to be drawn between ragging and introduction. Ragging is more common in institutes like IITs and AIIMS, not here,” said a senior at LSR, Surabhi.
She recalled with horror an instance where her friend who took admission to an engineering college was forced to down three bottles of beer and was later left alone in a jungle.
While Delhi seemed to have warmed up to the idea of positive interaction, Chennai is where the real action lies. The city has a particularly bad “first day” record with many cases of ragging taking an ugly turn being reported.
But this year it seems, the city freshers are breathing easy. As against their Delhi counterparts, they have welcomed the SC verdict. “Ragging should be banned completely. When freshers come to college, they are away from home so they should be comforted,” says a senior.
However, a fresher disagreed. “I don’t think creates bondage between senior and junior. While school is a closed atmosphere, one should know how to face life in college,” she opined
How much is too much?
Kavita Sharma also jogged her memory to recall her “first day” experience. “I had a very nice welcome. I don’t think it was ragging but I used to do a little bit of singing and so some of my seniors asked me to sing, that was it,” she said.
Sharma admitted drawing the line was a tricky job faced by the administrators of colleges across the country. “The orders of SC are very clear on this. If a fresher comes and says he is not happy, you are bound to file an FIR,” she said.
The present scenario is clearly stifling –ragging cases that go ugly apart, shouldn’t the playful pranks be encouraged? Isn't it after all a part of a growing up process?
“When things go to extreme, extreme measures are taken. Pendulum swings to a rather extreme position where we don’t know what’s fun and what’s not. Gradually, things should come to a middle ground,” she said.
Sharma also said there existed some very creative alternatives to ragging like college societies that encourage students to interact and understand each other more interactively.
So while the new session began with a whimper, college crowd would sure be hoping to carry it forward with a bang, humming Floyd throughout in a new light.