Every parent dreams of his or her child qualifying for university education. People work hard sometimes through back breaking physical labour undergoing hardships and agonies to support children’s education, as university education is perceived as the pinnacle of academic achievement in youth and gateway to prosperity. People undergo difficulties however and consider their sacrifices worthwhile when children succeed in entering universities.
Aspiring young ones exuding great zeal and energy fall all over themselves and burn midnight oil to make the university dream come true, in order to accomplish bright futures they envision. What greets these blossoming youth from a diversity of backgrounds and social strata from affluent elites to those who are compelled to shed sweat, blood and tears and break their backs to make ends meet as they step in to the universities is so horrendous and beyond imagination.
Freshers to universities are subjected to ragging, a practice that forms part of university sub-culture. It is performed by seniors to bully and ridicule newcomers. In some cases seniors mercilessly inflict severe physical and mental harassment including physical abuse with sadistic sexual connotations.
"People are fast becoming techno savvy. They can easily gain unrestricted access to pornographic material in various websites containing obscene & sexually explicit videos and photographs through laptops and hand held devices"
Parents are feeling apprehensive for the safety of their children particularly when they enrol in universities from distant places and stay in hostels, as they could easily become soft targets of marauding gangs of raggers. Techniques and forms of ragging in practice have assumed degrading inhuman cruel and vulgar characteristics over the years which manifest diabolical and despicable conduct on the part of senior students deserving outright condemnation. It underscores persistent moral decadence brought about by the prodigious influence of the neoliberal global capital market socio economic model together with the sweeping changes occasioned by the advanced digital computing and communication technology, which has spread into every segment of the society including the so-called educated.
Vast spread of information and communication technology has been growingly attracting youngsters towards social media like Face book and Twitter. People are fast becoming techno savvy. They can easily gain unrestricted access to pornographic material in various websites containing obscene & sexually explicit videos and photographs through laptops and hand held devices. Abundant availability of obscene and lewd materials psychologically influences the conduct of perverted elements in younger generation including educated youth entering universities. They are driven to seek fulfilment of irresistible and far-fetched notions of sexuality without regard for the feelings of others. So ragging perpetrated in concealed chambers of torture could be a means of achieving such sinister ends. Moreover seniors could also be motivated by the desire to inflict pain on newcomers to avenge for the suffering they had undergone through ragging. So it appears that ragging is a nefarious practice handed down to successive batches of students as part of the villainous legacy of university sub-culture.
It is a practice that forms part of university sub-culture
Seniors are motivated by the desire to inflict pain on newcomers to avenge suffering they had undergone
What happened at the Peradeniya University should at least open the eyes of the highest authority
Mechanisms of enforcing disciplinary control within the university system should be bolstered
A couple of sensational cases reported in the past demonstrate how menacing and torturous ragging could prove and how its traumatic impact had ruined the lives of helpless innocent and aspiring youth with full hopes of excelling in what they were good at.
In 1975, Rupa Rathnaseeli, a female student attached to the facility of Agriculture in the University of Peradeniya jumped from the Second Floor of the Hostel to avoid a candle being inserted in to her vagina. She was paralysed for the rest of her life. She was not punished by a marauding psychopath or a criminal hiding to prey upon in some isolated corner of a remote village. She was tortured by the villains and barbarians in the guise of education produced by the nefarious sub-culture prevalent in universities. She was punished for none other than her own ability to excel in studies and earn a seat in the temple of higher learning. She committed suicide in 2002 having failed to make a living and overcome unbearable burdens.
Although details of many heart rending cases of ragging could be produced, it is restricted due to space constraints. How extreme forms of physical abuse, sexual vulgarities and exploitations perpetrated on youth straight from schools could help in their orientation to the university environment is incomprehensible. If defies logic and does not stand to reason. If ragging is a ‘getting to know’ exercise, there could be better ways of doing it whereby raggers as well as those being ragged could jointly enjoy some pleasant and convivial moments leading to formation of lasting comradeship. For that purpose there is no need for newcomers to be subjected to continued ill-treatment for unduly long periods of time making university life hell for them.
What is reported could only be the tip of the monstrous ragging ice-berg prevailing within the university system and best part of the atrocities committed on freshers could still be remaining concealed. There could be many more chambers of torture operating in and outside universities where seniors are unleashing bestialities on innocent newcomers in the name of ragging to derive gratification of demonic pleasures. Some members of the body politic espousing Marxist ideology who relish taking moral high ground and steal limelight on matters of public interest and resort to protests at the drop of a hat nowadays cry foul about SAITM. However, they are conspicuously keeping mum on matters such as crass rip-off of needy, sickly and those who are unable to make their ends meet by elite medical professionals whose education has been funded by tax payers’ money. Although there is strong opposition to higher education in private institutions there is hardly any word being said about thriving private medical practices conducted by many professionals produced by the so-called free education who charge exorbitant fees. It is well known that professionals in private sector are given to prescribing a whole gamut of expensive medical tests, procedures and reports primarily for commercial reasons irrespective of whether they are of any benefit to the patients concerned. No union or any political grouping openly speaks about such irregularities and injustices.
Similarly, political movements which have got their tentacles extensively spread within the university system to achieve their own agendas are keeping mum about the degrading and inhuman treatment meted out to new comers by the seniors in the name of ragging, despite their solemnly declared claims to stand for students’ rights. Those could be the invisible hands that manoeuvre student activities to achieve their political ends. By remaining silent such movements are only exposing hypocrisy and callousness.
"They are driven to seek fulfilment of irresistible and far-fetched notions of sexuality without regard for the feelings of others. So ragging perpetrated in concealed chambers of torture could be a means of achieving such sinister ends"
Govt of Yahapalanaya captured reins on the plank of protecting human rights. It is duty bound to protect innocent children who work hard and enter universities to pursue higher education. The Government should leave no stone unturned in ensuring that stringent measures are in place to enforce laws of the land against whoever infringing the human rights of new-comer students. Moreover, the mechanisms of enforcing disciplinary control within the university system should be bolstered with more muscle and teeth to make their tasks effective. What happened in the Agriculture Faculty of the University of Peradeniya should at least open the eyes of the highest of the land and the Government apparatus before it is too late to tell the ruffians and bullies that enough is enough and there should be no more abuse in the name of ragging.