Numerous pages have been utilized to articulate the incidents and the ill effects of ragging, but the birth of ragging has never been talked about enough. I tried to trace down the root of ragging and fell upon some interesting facts about this savage practice which is eroding our education system.
Ragging originated as early as in the 7th and 8th century A.D in the country of Greece. In the Greek culture, the new entrants to the sports community were greeted with all kinds of humiliation and teasing to inculcate a team spirit in them. Gradually with the passage of time this technique underwent modifications and was later adopted by the military forces, from there it finally entered into the education system. During the 18th century forming a student organization became a common trend in the European countries. This concept was later adopted by the U.S. universities as well. In the period 1828-1845, several student organizations popped up in the U.S. campuses. These were named after Greek letters like Alpha, Phi, Beta, Kappa, Epsilon, Delta etc and were called as Greek Letter Organizations (GLO’s) or Fraternities. The new entrants to these fraternities were known as PLEDGES and they were subjected to the ritual of Hazing (ragging as called in west) to test their courage.
The first ragging related death occurred in 1873 when a freshman from Cornell University fell into a gorge as a consequence of ragging. Ragging underwent a massive transformation after World-War 1. It was during this time that it started to acquire its real brutal form. Soldiers returning from war re-entered the college and brought with them the technique of Hazing (ragging) learned in military camp. These techniques were used to make individual fail as an individual and succeed as a team. This philosophy of team development continued to be used in different fraternities. Eventually when fewer military students entered college these techniques were passed onto others who did not understand their purpose or usage and ragging became a brutal and hazardous exercise.
In India the tradition of ragging seeped in along with the English education. Ragging then meant seniors mocking and jesting at juniors. In 1960s ragging was an infant as major section of the society didnt go to schools and colleges for higher education.
In the 80s, gradually the higher education became more and more accessible to different communities and ragging became a soft weapon to settle the rage between students of different castes, communities and religion etc.
During the early 90’s rapid mushrooming of new private Engineering and Medical colleges led to several disastrous experiments with this old practice of ragging. It made Southern India a hub of this brutal activity.Ragging transformed and its more of seniors showing their supremacy and dominance over their juniors.
During the 90’s ragging related suicides began to increase at a rapid rate.
History teaches us that borrowing the foreign culture has always proven to be disastrous to our nation. Ragging is just another example to it.We tend to forget that ragging is a western culture and is unethical in a multi-ethnic and diverse society such as India. Even in the west ragging was always used as tool to take out vengeance between the Blacks and Whites. In India, a myth that ragging makes the fresher bold has always existed.Its high time that we banish such beliefs.As long as this exists ragging will never see its demise.