Imagined complexity of University "Ragging"



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Listening to the Derana TV programme "Aluth Parlimenthuwa" on 12.09.2018 at 10.30 pm, which discussed ragging in the universities, I was shocked to hear arguments by three respected university dons in an obvious attempt to make it appear that the problem of ragging in the universities was an almost intractable problem. The Minister of Higher Education, one of the participants, focused on facts and pointed out the political dimension that complicates the issue. The Deputy Chairman of the UGC who had the facts and figures related to ragging and its victims, showed us the seriousness of the problem and also the common sense approach in dealing with it.


It appeared as if the three respected dons were more interested in showing their erudition and keen intellect, and ability to make simple matters more complex. University ragging is simply the employment of human torture to gain control of the student movement in the universities for a political purpose. I was a member of an inquiring committee that probed into ragging at Peradeniya University, and our findings were that the main reason for ragging is political, and there could also be an element of sadism and sexual perversion. Rag leaders are usually a small group of students, not interested in studies, but motivated by their political affiliation. Others with sexual aberrations, perversions, and violent tendencies may join in. We recommended that the problem can be dealt by treating the university premises as part of the country, which comes under the purview of the law of the country and its executors, the police and the courts. Violence by human beings against other human beings comes under the purview of the police and the courts of law, and should be dealt by the legal procedure of the country.


There is absolutely no rationale, need, or justification to treat ragging as a special phenomenon that occurs in a hallowed precincts, which the police should not desecrate by their presence and interference. Universities are made a hallowed precinct by its inhabitants, the students and their teachers. If they violate the law of the country, the university ceases to be a special place and deserves to be treated as any other place where the law is breached. First and foremost, peace, harmony and serenity must prevail in any place if it is to be treated as special, for instance a temple.


Going by the facts and figures presented by the UGC Deputy Chairman at this programme, the magnitude of the problem is much bigger than the incidence of ragging that we inquired into at Peradeniya. This problem obviously has grown in its intensity of violence, the organization and the political involvement. It must be said it has been allowed to grow unabated, due to the lack of adequate action on the part of theuniversity administration, the government and the law enforcement authority. There seems to be a factor of politics within the university administration and faculty that hinders the due process of legal action. Those in authority would not like to take action due to the fear of escalation of violence and closure of the university, which would be considered as a black mark on them by their ministers and the government. Their political opponents within the university would try and take political mileage out of such an eventuality. This sad state is due to the politicization of the university system.


To solve the problem of ragging in the universities, first, action must be taken to see that the law of the country applies to the universities without any laxity. Secondly, the universities must be given more autonomy and made independent of politics of the country. Student issues, such as lack of residential facilities, modern learning techniques, financial assistance, and employment prospects should be looked into, because these problems could motivate even the apolitical innocent students to sympathize with or even join the "ragging organization".


N.A.DE S. AMARATUNGA


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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