March 12, 2009

Ragging- Time to act!

Posted in Mental Health tagged , , , , , , at 5:36 am by Dr. Samir Parikh

The news of a young life been violently destroyed in the name of ragging, is so disturbing, and not just that it brings anger in me, but it gives me a sense of helplessness, similar to what a young boy would have felt when he would have gone through these atrocities, that too in a place where education was to be given, where young minds joined with hopes and dreams. What’s sad is that just in a couple of days, the society would actually forget this, and we would be back to our routines, until one more incident would happen, and then we shall repeat this cycle of despair and pain.

Can you imagine the pain, the distress, the helpless horror that a young student would have faced, the helplessness around the torture? Do you realize that hundreds of students would be aware of this, that there would be an administration that would have been around, that no one could prevent this? Can you even remotely imagine the pain of the boys’ family? That this could happen to anyone around us, in our family, if we continue to let “ragging” be a part of our education institutes!

In this article I shall try and bring to light the psychological impacts of ragging on students, focusing only on ragging that is done as harassment, physical or psychological.

When students, especially seniors say that this is for fun only, and that ragging helps juniors to know seniors and so on, they need to understand the effects of there actions, as a lot of things we do in the present that could have a long lasting impact in the future.

Basically physical ragging, ragging with a sexual connotation, and verbal insults and harassment are the kinds of ragging that have to be totally thrown out of the system.

Its during physical raging, that the junior (who now is a victim), goes through intense fear, a sense of horror an helplessness, and in the long run has a high chance of having anxiety disorder, and event post traumatic stress disorder in the future.

Sexual ragging also has a similar impact on the psyche as sexual self-esteem is a very important part of the young adult, and the recollection of this incident can affect long-term social and sexual life of the victim.

Verbal ragging based on caste, and other kinds of discrimination also has a similar impact as this results in an increased feeling of prejudice, and discrimination, making a further dent in an already divided society.

Whenever some seniors have talked to me about ragging, there first rational to it is that it allows them to know the new students, and helps the juniors in turn to make new bonds. The rational is totally accepted, as the fun that is with consent of both parties is probably the best way to make new social bonds, as long as it is with consent, and it does not include physical, verbal or sexual harassment. But the key is, it needs to be mutual fun, and nothing else!

The second factor that sometimes comes out is that, ‘ I have gone through this and I want to give it back’. And this is why our unhealthy habits never die. We learn history so that we don’t repeat out mistakes, and if we don’t learn form our past experiences then that’s hardly a mature development of the self.

But I do believe that for any person who has been ragged, and who carries with him negative experiences of this incident, would have a chance of doing it to others if his stress was not resolved adaptively. And here comes the role of counselors who help the victim resolve his problems so that they are not passed on.

The long-term effects or ragging can be: Aggression, Anxiety, Depression, PTSD, long term prejudice, and drop outs and suicides.

Suicide of a student is a national disaster. As this was a person for the future and it was lost only for a ritual that was a part of college life. Death due to ragging is the worst picture of the reality of ragging. May be the senior could go and tell their family that it was for fun only!

Is there a way out?

Well yes, if authorities of colleges, the students unions, and seniors and overall we a society all decide to put an end to this, yes there is a solution.

  • First, the offender has to be punished, consistently, immediately, and severely so that the learning to others is there.
  • Secondly, students unions should create awareness in seniors to prevent harassment, have special days where seniors and juniors meet, where in a positive atmosphere mutually acceptable fun could be had to make new friends.
  • Media needs to highlight the harmful effects of ragging.
  • Also institutes must have a mental health professional on the panel, who could be approached by any student if he goes through stress so that he could be helped.

This is our collective apathy, that we allow this to happen around us, and we don’t react. And it’s the responsibility of the society to now raise their voices and make itself be counted, and bring an end to ragging in academic institutes. We don’t want to lose another young life. Its time to act!



  1. abhilash1989 said,

    Click the following link to see the college girls ragging a boy

  2. Veena said,

    Dear Dr. Parikh

    We all make a lot of hue & cry when any unfortunate incident happens. But what are we offering children to grow into sensitive human being? We need to question that and raise a voice against ugly, inhuman & insensitive programmes being telecast on all tv channels.

    Yesterday, my tv caught some channel by fluke while it was being repaired. I think it was `Bindaas’. I was shocked to see teenagers participating in it being bullied by `dadas’, humiliated, asked to slap the `loser’, eat crockroach infested cake to win 50,000 and be called `dada’ all in the name of reality show. Just 5 minutes of this programme, I could not sleep for hours. I have heard similar programmes being popular with every age-group.

    We all know media has powerful impact on mind. If such programmes are allowed to be telecast, are we not fighting a losing battle?

    I know this issue has been raised time & again, but I think some serious measures and that, too, immediately need to be taken.

    On my part, I am definitely going to take up this issue with my students and dissuade them not to watch such programmes and influence others also to be more sensible in selecting the programmes they watch.


    • Dr. Samir Parikh said,

      I completely share your concern, and agree to the fact that media has a significant impact on the young mind, and it’s important that media becomes sensitive to their responsibility. I strongly believe that self-censorship is needed, and there have to be some policy to what is portrayed.
      As for schools, “Media Literacy”, amongst students is a must, and it needs to be implemented in the education system, as a life skill.
      I would be writing at length about this in future blogs.

  3. Kamna Chhibber said,

    this is something that has arisen time and again without fail yet we have not been able to find a practical andn viable solution to this problem. what to reform and where to bring out the reforms is something that has been looked into yet nothing seems to be working. but i too strongly support you in saying that strong action is needed and probably these basic values of respect for another person and kindness need to be instilled at the school level right from an individual’s childhood and not just when they reach colleges.

  4. Dr. Megha Hazuria Gore said,

    As some people have said, socialization to a large extent is important. I believe that role models that we have around us are critical in how we consciously and unconsciously express ourselves. Having said that internal controls may or may not develop always but that is no excuse for society to give up its responsibility of placing appropriate safe guards and limits to ensure safety and ensure responsible behavior.

  5. Talat Shahab said,

    Those who rag are educated youths pursuing professional courses . It is very surprising that they are so barbaric in their thoughts and actions .

    To a great extent our socialisation process is responsible for such incidents . From a tender age children are introduced to violent video games . Their attitudes become such , that they get pleasure in causing physical and psychological sufferings to others .

  6. Komal Mohan said,

    I can not but agree with all the views stated here. I can not help but wonder, why the minds of our generation and those that are following, is so distracted? What has caused such great deviations in the minds of the young? On a personal front i feel, this chaos and ruthlessness is just a sign of what we all are feeling within. What makes a student put in danger another in the name of relationship building? It reflects a pathology that has long invaded our systems, eating away at our morals and values. This is the era of destruction, and therefore the chance for resurrection of love and humanity. We need to use such losses, to re-priorities our lost vision.

  7. swati mehta said,

    whenever i hear about such cases I end up asking myself whether we as human beings are heading towards creating a world in which we all are “Intolerable of each other’s peace & happiness”. Also, coming across such situations on a daily basis make us feel miserable and tiny in ourselves.We feel helpless as not been able to contribute in an effective manner to overcome such circumstances.

    But, still, i wouldn’t like us to lose hope as it is a very precious virtue for all of us.
    Also, what matters is the realization of untapped potential we have in ourselves. Indeed, we must understand that the need of the hour is to make an effort in the right direction without being bothered whether it is on a large scale or a small scale & for this i would like to thank Dr.Parikh for giving us such an eye opener.

  8. Ragging should be completely banned across all the colleges and educational institutions in our country. Although we have a supreme court ruling that Ragging is banned in India, nevertheless, it still persists in our society. Incidents such as these act as a wake up call, and bring into limelight the severity of the problem. Thus, the first step for us is to reach out to those students whose cries are not being heard. Ragging Help-lines may be this first step.

  9. Isha Singh said,

    Ragging is just so sad, the fact that some people can get pleasure out of harassing juniors, is such a perverted behavior, and until some strong actions are taken collectively by all of us, and people responsible for such acts are brought to task and punished severely so that ragging can be brought to a permanent end is a must for the society!

  10. Trinka said,

    It was a flashback for me… reminded me of my cousin whom I lost as a result of ragging!!! After that trauma his father also passed away.
    This problem definitely needs to be addressed and we all need to take initiative.

  11. mimansa singh said,

    I hope a better insight into such issues from professionals, provoke the students and people in general to take strong actions to prevent it. Indeed it is painful to see and hear about such events and evokes rage and sympathy, for the victimizers and the victim and his family respectively.

    I pray to God to help us channelize our emotions into something more productive.


  12. Sameer Kohli said,

    Ragging is a phenomena that needs to be addressed in very practical terms. From the moment when one gets ragged to the zone when one himself does so, to avenge the humilities, is not something that makes a human a human. I doubt if even animals do it.

    As a filmmaker, I feel pained at the loss of confidence and the negative fire that embers after a humiliating experience. Vivid pictures emerge that are synonymous with killing humanity. Films have dealt with these from time immemorial, yet the solution lies elsewhere- its lies within ones ability (or the lack of it) to control oneself.

    Are we humans so given to ourselves that we refuse to see the future- it may come back to us in one form or the other. Pardon my digression to my belief in karma, but even if one discounts the fear element (fear of karma), yet the very act of creating an extreme suffering at the hands of those (read seniors) who are to lead the path, is shameful.

    I have seen ragging that is (cliche) healthy. i would avoid calling it ragging. It’s interaction for sure, but if it leads to a either a stronger bond of positive spirits amongst the students, or if it helps getting a complex driven junior out of his jinx, i would rate it good. But then, students do get carried away and go to another extreme- and in turn, they break the complex once and for all.

    It can be sad…


    Dear Dr.Parikh
    First of all I would like to pay my deepest condolences to the grief ridden Kachroo family. This unfortunate and despicable incident of death of Mr.Aman due to ragging has yet again caught our attention towards this evil.Rahter than going into the details of this intricate social problem,I would like to put emphasis on the various solutions that I can think of .
    We need to develop a wholistic,comprehensive and multipronged strategy to tackle this issue and launch a scathing attack from all fronts like social, legal, political and most importantly from the psychological angle to make our younger generation feel safe physically and mentally and at the same time to make them more responsible.
    >From Psychological angle,as we all know every behaviour can be learned,unlearned and relearned .So in order to teach proper behaviour intervention should be made at an early stage by the parents and various other social agencies(like school ect) so that a balanced apersonality which is sensitive to other people sufferings can be developed.
    Secondly we need to change the attitude of these young people who indulge in such anti socail activities by making use of dissonace/self perception theories.Further,we can use various other methods like using presitge suugestion,fear appeal,message discrepancy etc.
    From social angle,media can play a great role here by highlighting the plight of the victims and in sensitizing the community to start a social movement making use of persuavise communication as an effective tool.

    Secondly anti social elements can be socially isolated at the community level.Small social groups can play an effective role in influencing such peole.
    From legal perspective,The apex court of the country has declatred ragging in any form as a crime often involving cognisable offences and made it mandatory for police to file an FIR within 24hrs of receiving a complaint, so all possible and stringent legal actions under IPC and CRPC should be taken by the law enforcement agencies to make sure that justice must reach the victim .

    Finally Mr. ,Raghavan commitees recommendations on ragging should be implemented in full earnest.

    This is ofcourse not a very exhaustive list of solutions but nevertheless a few effective one which if followed properly can go a long way in curbing this social menace .

    Anupama Ahlawat
    (Counselling Psychologist)

  14. Bharti M. Borah said,

    Dear Dr. Parikh,
    It feels good to see that someone is not willing to let this ragging episode die its own death through the course of time. I can still visualize the pictures of the mother and family grieving for their child who lost his life due to pure negligence and cowardness, the educational establishment definitely needs to take its share of blame.

    Ragging has always been part of the scenario of education but people being killed or committing suicide or leaving the course of choice because they can’t deal with the ragging is really sad and terrible for our society.

    Please do let me know if you need any contributions from my side.

    This problem definitely needs to be addressed and it’s good to know that someone is willing to take the required initiative.


  15. daman said,

    Dr Parikh,

    I shudder to think that these criminals ( for that is what they are ) are India’s
    future doctors.Heaven help their patients.Strict law enforcement is the only answer.


  16. Neelam Srivastava said,

    Dear Dr Parikh
    First of all i need to express my gratitude to you for this forum where we can express our views to share it with those around us.
    Inspite of being aware about the repercussions of ragging why do the perpetrators get overpowered by the thrill of seeing the other in pain? Why can’t institutes take immedite steps to identify these criminal minds and put them behind the bars? Do the authorities care more for the reputation of their college than the life of the innocent children? Or is it the powerful guardians who are ruling the colleges today? Do we as parents hesistate to put our children in colleges which have taken such actions and have come in the limelight because of it? I think we would applaud institute which provides such security measures to our wards. Colleges today – management,teachers,parents and student unions-need to play a more proactive role and colleges should spend a percentage of their earning in the security of the students and have counsellors on the campus to help students cope with their trauma.
    As school teachers we need to sensitise our children to diversity and individual differences.We all are aware that school bullies are also a result of poor self esteem and unresolved conflicts and they need help as much as the victim. We all need to get together and make all possible efforts to eradicate this ugly form of ragging from our institutes.

    Neelam Srivastava

  17. Maulik Bhagat said,

    I would like to comment on this from the perspective of a student who has had the experience of anxiety from expecting to be ragged, and then the relief from actually having ‘healthy’ fun during the ragging rather than actualization of my worst nightmare!

    There first instance when I expected to be the victim of ragging was when I started junior college in Mumbai (after my 10th Boards). At barely 15-16 years, moving to a large college setup has its own challenges, nevertheless, nothing compared to the fear of ragging that was set in my minds by some seniors from my apartment complex that had been to the same college campus earlier. They told me to ensure I stay away from a particular ‘bhai’ and his group in college, and that if for some reason they catch me and rag, I should comply without protest, else they would break my nose with ‘knuckle-breakers’! Luckily, nothing of this sort happened, and overall the ragging on college campus that year was almost negligible and wherever it did happen, it was genuinely ‘fun’. All credit for this went to the college authorities who had ensured they created a fear psychosis of their own against ragging and its potential proponents. We even had police on campus for the first few days.

    My second tryst with ragging was when i joined B-school. This was an on-campus residential course. So, again i had my seniors telling me that this will be the real deal in ragging, because ragging that happens in a hostel is way beyond what happens in a day college campus. Plus, they told me that the major proportion of the students in B-School are engineers, who will be well versed with the nasty ragging that happens in Engineering college hostels. Though I was a little more mature at 22 years this time around, i dont think the fear psychosis was less. On the contrary it was componded to an extent because, unlike junior college when I dint think it shameful to go upto teachers / parents to complain if i was ragged, in B-School, i thought it would be extremely shameful and so i would fight it out myself or take it lying down. Anyway, once again, i was lucky as the B-School authorities again had ensured that ragging happened, but under their watchful eye (unknown to us freshers) and that it was more in the nature of ingraining us with the rigor that we should expect in the 2 years at B-School. It was the most enjoyable experience at the end of it, and in the true sense I got to know my batch as well as my seniors very well!

    Looking back now, the more i think of it, i think it is the college / hostel authorities who have the most critical role to play in stopping this menace of physically, sexually or verbally harmful ragging. They can have the most direct impact on their student fraternity, and rather than turn a blind eye and shy away from their responsibility (like most institutions do), they need to take this up as a important responsibility that they have towards the students, parents, community, education, and the progress of a nation at large!

  18. Arati Mohan said,

    excellently presented ! should go straight to the point of readers.

  19. neha dutta said,

    Dear Dr.Parikh

    I am immensly happy and thankful to you for your effort.This news brought a terrible effect on all of us in my school.My students of 9 th and 10th class were upset and worried about the kind of atmosphere they will get years from now and all of them shared a common opinion that its our moral duty to come together to prevent such a shameful incident in the future.So i and my students extend a hand of cooperation and responsibility for this noble cause.Lets make our children feel SAFE mentally and physically.


    Neha Dutta
    School counsellor
    St’Marks School

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