Some senior students force the unorganized newcomers to undergo several forms of mental, physical and sexual abuses. The juniors are usually too frightened to resist their organized group of tormentors.
The legal definition is seen as:
"'Ragging' means the doing of any act which causes, or is likely to cause any physical, psychological or physiological harm of apprehension or shame or embarrassment to a student, and includes– (a) teasing or abusing of playing Practical joke on, or causing hurt to any student. or (b) asking any student to do any act, or perform any thing, which he/she would not, in the ordinary course, be willing to do or perform."
Most of the institutions usually turn a blind eye and rather tries to hush up in fear of loss of reputation.
Anti Ragging organization, SAVE, stated in a recent publication that in some institutions it has been reportedly turned into a tool for exploiting money from the juniors.
Ragging is different from other crimes because the motive is solely to get perverse pleasure. Ragging is also different from other crimes as it is actively promoted by certain sections of the society. The following criminal activities can be categorised under ragging (especially if they take place inside a school or college):
Ragging has a long history, and has been highlighted in literature (e.g., in Britain, Tom Brown's Schooldays, or Boy by Roald Dahl, and in India, Chetan Bhagat's Five Point Someone). In recent years, it has been the focus of a number of legal actions. For example, the Supreme Court of India defined it in a 2001 judgement as:
Ragging can be thought of in terms verbal, physical and sexual aggression. A single act may be a combination of more than one of these.
A report from 2007 by the Indian anti-ragging group Coalition to Uproot Ragging from Education analyzed 64 ragging complaints, and found that over 60% of these were related to physical ragging, and 20% were sexual in nature.
While India's only registered Anti Ragging NGO, Society Against Violence in Education (SAVE) has noted 7 reported ragging deaths in the year 2007 alone and 31 reported deaths in the period 2000-2007. :
Ragging is usually conducted during a fixed period in most institutions, which may range from one day to almost the whole year. Once this period is over, 'seniors' suddenly become "friends" (apparently): the beginning of this new relationship is often a "fresher's party". However, it often turns like a Dracula story, where the seniors incorporate some of the willing juniors to their gang, so that they may continue ragging (which is often used also as a tool for financial exploitations). Next these "incorporated" or "befriended" juniors also rag their juniors when the formers become seniors in the next year.
In any event, innumerable freshers under severe stress may then leave the system , or may be suffering from serious psychological trauma, which may continue to take its toll through post-traumatic stress disorders. Occasionally, there may be physical injury, and some may even commit suicide.
It has been observed that often, after the ragging season, the friendship between juniors & seniors is only apparent, possibly due to the fact the junior still remains dependent on the seniors in many respects. It has also been pointed out by many that the apparent friendship between the seniors and the juniors is only an eyewash. Respect can never be earned with threats, therefore the apparent respect the juniors show to their seniors is because of the fear (though they cherish hatred for their tormentors).
Ragging, a colonial legacy, is widespread in India's education. Various State Legislatures in India have been passing anti-ragging legislations, yet the issue is far from being resolved. Indian legal fraternity has yet to approach the problem of ragging from a perspective other than that of "crime." In the absence of any serious research to that effect, ragging is hardly recognized as an issue under human rights; human rights fraternities in India do not seem to bother about "ragging."
Ragging, though widely believed to be a major factor for campus violence and suicides in educational institutions in India, has yet to be recognized as traditional and systematic human rights abuse in education, and such human right violations in education have not been given the proper attention in India that they deserve. However, within the United Nations, ragging has been considered as an issue of human rights in education.
Katarina Tomaševski, the Special Rapporteur with Commission on Human Rights, Economic and Social Council, United Nations, in her Annual Report in 2001, advocates a 4-A scheme, whereby governmental human rights obligations to make education available, accessible, acceptable, and adaptable have been recognized. The Commission on Human Rights had asked the Special Rapporteur to focus on overcoming obstacles and difficulties in the realization of the right to worldwide education and, in keeping this direction in view, the Special Rapportuer made specific mention of "Ragging” in Chapter V, “STREAMLINING THE HUMAN RIGHTS FRAMEWORK FOR EDUCATION.”
"75… The Supreme Court of Sri Lanka decided in April 1998 on the constitutionality of a law that aimed to outlaw and suppress inter alia, verbal abuse (recognized as ragging, bullying, or harassment) within educational institutions. The victimization of students, especially newcomers, through verbal abuse should be outlawed, the Court affirmed, adding that "ragging has far too long been cruel, inhuman and degrading. Our society has been unable to deal with the root causes of ragging, and the anxieties, fears and frustrations of youth on which ragging has fed and flourished."
Appreciating domestic courts' increasing recognition of human rights in education, the Special Rapportuer expressed her satisfaction about the entry of human rights in education law. The report's recommendation section says:
“81. the international and domestic human rights law protecting the right to education and guaranteeing human rights in education should be used as a corrective for all education strategies.“The Special Rapporteur recommends to all international actors involved in promoting education to review their approach using human rights as the yardstick.”
Making a particular reference to India, the report says:
“24…While fully aware of the allocations of responsibility within education between central and State governments, the special rapportuer emphasized the responsibility of the State in ensuring the full implementation of international human rights law binding upon it...”
This mean that State needs to take up the task of making education acceptable to all and elimination of ragging should be construed to be a necessary step in this direction.
The Special Rapportuer's report calls for: