Category Archives: University Education

Understanding Ragging as a Social Phenomenon, an Interpretation: By Kumudu Kusum Kumara

Understanding Ragging as a Social Phenomenon, an Interpretation: In Search of Sociality and Leadership:

(The following article which was originally written in 1997 and submitted to the then University Grants Commission (UGC), attempts a line of analysis that has current validity as a possible interpretation of ragging as a social phenomenon. The writer wishes to thank Dr. S.B.D. de Silva for commenting on a draft of the original article when it was written first, while the writer alone is solely responsible for errors of fact or interpretation if any, found in it. The original has been slightly revised for the present context.)

Introductory

Ragging of freshers in the University becomes a problem in the eyes of the collective, due to its “inhuman nature” involving a “disturbingly high degree of physical and mental harassment” as it has been highlighted. Various measures recommended by authorities seasonally to deal with the problems of ragging highlight the enormity and the gravity of the problem as perceived by the collective. All the same, the measures we adopt in “combating” it should be conceived and applied with great care, so as not to repress merely the superficial aspects of the problem while preserving its roots intact. That would cause a re-emergence of ragging in even worse forms than are now prevalent.
Ragging: Problem or Solution?
While the collective perceives ragging as a problem for which solutions have to be sought, ironically, in my view, ragging itself may be understood as a collective solution by those who engage in it to problems of a different kind.

Sociality

I suggest that the issue which lies at the heart of ragging is sociality. The critics view the behaviour of those who engage in ragging as anti-social; they violate by force the self of the individuals who are ragged and therefore social norms and even the law. This is to say, basically, they lack sociality.
From the perspective of those who engage in ragging and those who approve of it, the specific purpose of ragging is achieving sociality; seniors getting to know the freshers, and introducing them to the traditions of the University which they have entered. A senior’s role then, is to lead the freshers, however unfortunately for the latter, by ragging them.
The question whether the freshers should not be encouraged to rag the seniors to get to know them is not even considered, making taking the lead in ‘getting to know’ the prerogative of the seniors. Or is it considered the entitlement of the hostinitiating getting to know the visitor? Also, in this case, the burden of deciding the “traditions” of societyis squarely taken on the shoulders of the seniors alone. Continue reading Understanding Ragging as a Social Phenomenon, an Interpretation: By Kumudu Kusum Kumara

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Politically motivated cyber-bullying on the part of ‘leftist’ groups

Politically motivated cyber-bullying on the part of so-called leftist groups
Prabha Manuratne

imagesI see this latest attack by Sumith Chaaminda and his group on you as yet another display of their myopic politics. As someone who has been a repeated target of politically motivated cyber-bullying for many years now, I fully sympathize with the unenviable position you have been pushed into. Such politically inflected bullying does not demand that a truth be revealed but that we prove a lie to be a lie. Bullying and hate speech are characteristic arsenal of those who wish to silence others on cyber platforms. They were part of the strategy of the former X group. It was a strategy that we eschewed after the break-up of the group, and it is sad that former X-group members Sumith Chaaminda and Vidarshana Kannangara have chosen to continue such attacks. In my opinion, cyber-bullying has had a deleterious effect on the entire youth oriented political scene in Sri Lanka.

I do not think that it is necessary to dwell on the importance of your work as a public intellectual and as a university academic in the current vapid and tasteless political-intellectual scene in Sri Lanka. This is neither the place nor the occasion for it. The very fact that such attacks take place, I think, is proof enough that you have ventured out of the comfortable cocoons of apolitical intellectual work, and demanded engagement from a younger generation of intellectuals who wish to follow that same path. It is sad to think that open and healthy dialogue has been replaced increasingly by bullying of this sort. Such interventions single-handedly detract attention from the larger issue of the politicization of university education. I hope this article will be seen as the occasion to discuss this larger question of politically motivated cyber-bullying on the part of so-called leftist groups on broad terms, and lead to a recognition that there is much at stake in keeping democratic lines of discussion open to everyone.

I would like to extend my fullest support to any effort on your part to address this problem of needless (and in my opinion baseless) cyber-bullying both on disneylanka.com and on Facebook.

(Prabha Manuratne is a political activist and Lecturer in English.)