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.)
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.
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