Nearly 40% of college students were mildly or severely ragged despite stringent laws at the national and state level, finds a study which has been released by the University Grants Commission
The study found that as many as 84.3% of students did not complain to the college authorities. Another startling revelation is that close to a third of the students (28%) found ragging to be fun and an exercise in bonding with seniors.
The studyâPsychosocial Study of Ragging in Selected Educational Institutes in Indiaâ was conducted by experts from JNU and NIMHANS who are part of the Supreme Court-mandated committee of ragging. The study was conducted in 37 colleges (including 10 from the south Indian states) in the country and included more than 10, 000 students.
The primary reason cited for not complaining to college authorities were lack of trust in college authorities (41.3%), followed by the possibility of harm to career (38.5%).
The committee also found that the fear of getting physically attacked was a reason for not raising a complaint amongst 23.2% of the surveyed students.
Ragging by gender and residence
The study found that male students were ragged more than their female peers.
Students living in hostels were subjected to ragging more than day scholars.
Modes of ragging included giving an introduction to seniors (53.3%), addressing seniors as âSir or Madamâ, forced to sing or dance (24.2%), and doing assignments for seniors (13.3%).
1.4% of those students also mention incidences of sexual ragging which included incidences of forced stripping, acting sexual offences, watching pornography, masturbation among others.
Degree vs professional courses
The number of incidents of ragging in professional colleges was more than degree colleges. When students of only professional colleges were taken into account, then 60% of students admitted that they have faced ragging.
1.8% students revealed that they were asked to strip, 1.3% admitted they were forced to masturbate and 0.9% admitted being sodomised.
Ragging in later years
The study also found that in some colleges students get ragged in their second or third year as freshers are protected by the administration.
âIt also came to our notice that since colleges have taken the initiative to protect the freshers and keep them away from the seniors, seniors now wait for the juniors to reach second or third year to rag them,â the report said.
The researchers also noted that milder forms of ragging have been normalised and are not deemed as harmful to students.
Impact of ragging
The researchers said 25% of the students who were affected by ragging had difficulties in focusing or concentrating on their studies and more than a tenth reported a fall in academic performance.
Despite the negative effects, an overwhelming 32.6% said that they enjoyed their ragging session(s). Another 45% said that although they felt bad initially, they thought it was alright later. While 11.2% of the ragged students said that it made them upset to remember instances of ragging.
The researchers noted, âAlthough the overall percentages for negative emotional responses to ragging seem small, the absolute numbers of students so afflicted run into thousands. Moreover, certain colleges have reported significantly higher values; perhaps the degree of coercion to participate even in mild ragging and sanctions for not participating are high in these colleges.â
âThe negative feelings associated with ragging experienceâshame, humiliation, anger and helplessnessâare quite toxic and are implicated in mental health problems as well as in continuing cycles of violence,â the report said.
The researchers quoted a previously published research paper saying these can lead to mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation and suicide attempts.