But, if you think either has worked, all you need is to try some internet searches and you will discover that we have a thriving tradition of ragging in most academies.
Let us understand that ragging doesn’t require the presence of some crazy weirdoes that a good academy may not have.
As the infamous Stanford prisoner experiment suggested, having power over someone leads even a most normal person to become a sadistic torturer.
Ragging takes place due to a unique psychological phenomenon that is important to understand.
Human ape being territorial, we all harbour a natural fear of strange places and strangers. As a kid arrives from the safety of home and is suddenly thrown into an unknown space apparently belonging to aggressively posturing senior apes who are natural owners of the territory, the automatic response of the kid is fear and then submission.
This very ancient psychological frame has allowed ragging to emerge in hostels, and due to false glamorization as toughening or character building tradition, we have tried to ignore it.
While psychological impact of ragging is huge, I want to draw the attention of all academicians and especially of Gujarat police to an even more diabolical connect that is between ragging and drugs.
Police may have a different standpoint; but, as a pragmatic person, I have understood that drugs are proven to mightier than the law enforcement apparatus of the entire world. So, I feel that it is wiser to build a reality around them being there instead of wishing them away by the magic wand of law.
We need to realise that one of the biggest danger of ragging is that it leads to force-initiation of the juniors to drugs by the seasoned offenders found in every hostel. This could be a combination of guilt of being a junkie and wanting to ruin other lives to just an expression of power; but forcing juniors, especially those who show a disinclination to smoking, drinking and drugs is an integral part of ragging everywhere.
Let us understand that a junior would already be under tremendous peer-pressure, and thus highly vulnerable. It just takes a weak moment for him/her succumb to the pressure of some sick-minded senior to slip down the steep slope of addiction.
While ragging is a horrible part of every hostel, it has one limitation. The psychological engine of ragging is xenophobic state of the mind of the junior. So, it is possible to keep juniors in the subdued state of submission only till they feel like aliens and outsiders. As the time passes and familiarity to the place emerges, the initial panic dies and the psychological advantage that a senior has dissipates.
This means that it is only a small window of threat. If the hostel administration and police take a serious cognition of the issue and take care during first two-three weeks, juniors will become more familiar with their surroundings and the psychological advantage enjoyed by seniors will be lost.
This allows us to have a comparatively simple solution to a massive problem.
Prevent ragging actively by separating juniors and seniors, and if need be, have police presence in the initial weeks. Once the psychological window of fear is over, ragging will be defeated automatically.
It is too serious a problem to ignore. Let us wake up before it is too late for some kids.