Rajat Sharma

Shameful: Freshers in UP medical college had to shave off their heads due to ragging

Aaj Ki BaatIndia TV on Tuesday night in its prime time ‘Aaj Ki Baat’ show, telecasted a special investigative report on mass scale ragging inside the campus of Uttar Pradesh University of Medical Sciences based in Saifai, Etawah.

The video showed nearly 150 first year medical students, walking in a single file, with their heads bowed, and their heads shaven. They were all wearing the same white clothes. The freshers were following a set of
“guidelines” set by their senior colleagues: not to raise their eyes in front of seniors and take deep bows whenever a senior colleague approached them.

This was not a scene out of the iconic Bollywood movie ‘3 Idiots’. The video depicted the harsh realities in which the freshers found themselves, when they got admission to the university. These freshers are supposed to ride on the dreams of their parents who want their children to become doctors.

This video strikes at the innate sense of self respect of these medical students. It shames the civil society that we live in. It amply proves that the shameful practice of ragging is still prevalent in our educational institutions despite enactment of a law that bans ragging.

Normally freshers undergo mental stress during their first year in colleges. They are required to perform better in academics and adjust themselves to the new surroundings. Instead of offering them a helping hand, senior students of this medical university forced them to (1) shave off their heads (2) wear simple white dress (3) refrain from raising their eyes in front of seniors (4) deeply bow whenever a senior student approached them, and (5) walk in single file to their classrooms.

This is nothing short of a medieval practice. Initially, when I was showed the video, I could not believe my eyes, but after I got it crosschecked and found that the video was authentic, I was shaken. Are we living in the 21st century or not?

The vice-chancellor of the medical university initially pooh-poohed this video when our reporter showed it to him. He said, these freshers were only following the guidelines so that they remained disciplined.

To buttress his argument, the vice-chancellor said, medical students in the past had to undergo severe ragging, and that freshers had to comply with certain “set of guidelines”. After shooting off his mouth, the VC then realized his folly and assured that action would be taken.

According to a study, there were 4,700 complaints of ragging in India during the last seven years. Fifty four students committed suicide during these seven years because of ragging.

There were 1,078 cases of ragging in UP alone, followed by MP, West Bengal, Odisha and Tamil Nadu. After the anti-ragging law was enacted, educational institutions implemented tough rules to prevent ragging, but it seems the guidelines are being ignored more in practice than as exceptions. There was the case of Aman Kachroo, a medical student in Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, who committed suicide after ragging in 2009.

The UP government must take stern action against the culprits and set an example so that others should refrain from carrying out this ignoble practice in educational institutions.

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