[Outlook India] Insured Ragging


Insured Ragging A novel insurance scheme for freshers covers them against ragging K.S. SHAINI
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Starting this academic session, the 74,000-odd students of technical educational institutions in Madhya Pradesh will be insured against ragging. The Bhopal-based Rajiv Gandhi Praudyogiki Vishwavidyalaya (RGPV)—to which the state's 56 engineering, 54 MCA, 32 pharmacy colleges and 50 polytechnics are affiliated—has decided to provide a "ragging cover" to its students.

Public sector firm United Insurance has agreed to provide this ragging-cum-accidental death cover in return for an annual premium of Rs 34 per student. And even this won't be charged to the students, but will be paid from the varsity's student welfare fund. "The premium is so low because we invited tenders, and did some negotiating with the insurance companies," says Prof M.C. Gupta, RGPV vice-chancellor.

The policy provides that in case of death or permanent disability

The victim gets Rs 1 lakh in case of death or disability due to ragging.

due to ragging, the insurance firm will be liable to pay Rs 1 lakh to the victim. If a permanently disabled student wishes to continue with his or her studies, the company will foot the hostel bill and tuition fees for the rest of the course. The compensation would be proportional in cases of temporary disability or injury.

Makes sense, because ragging is more rampant in technical institutions compared to arts and pure science colleges, reasons S.K. Sharma, professor at a government engineering college. "In other colleges, the students are mostly locals, whereas in engineering colleges most students are outsiders," he says. "Already jittery in a new place, they panic at the slightest interaction with their seniors."

Some time ago, a first-year engineering student lost both his legs while crossing a railway track to escape being ragged by his seniors at the Bhopal railway station. Both the victim and his tormentors were "up-downers", commuting to Bhopal from Vidisha, 50 km away, to attend college. To avoid his seniors, who were waiting for him at the railway platform, the 18-year-old got down from the train on the other side and got hit by a shunting engine. Newspapers carried pictures of his father—a school teacher—carrying the maimed boy. There have been incidents of freshers drowning in rivers and lakes while in the company of seniors. Though nothing was proved conclusively, evidence showed that ragging-induced panic and terror were the culprits.

Insurance against ragging, Prof Gupta is hopeful, will increase the newcomers' confidence—perhaps the only way to curb ragging. Considering that most ragging incidents, as Prof Gupta says, take place not on college campuses or hostels, but at picnic spots, private houses rented by the students and other places, it makes intervention by the teachers difficult.

Not all students, however, are enthused by this idea. Ragging, they insist, will continue unabated. "I was summoned to the room of a senior and humiliated till I was nearly unconscious. I was so traumatised and disturbed that I returned to my native town. How does insurance help me? How do I make a claim for the mental agony and humiliation I suffered?" asks a second-year student of the university's teaching department. "What use is Rs 1 lakh to me if I lose both my hands?" fumes one of his classmates.

As a counter, the vice-chancellor insists that the insurance against ragging is in no way a substitute for efforts to halt ragging. He recognises that "channelising the energies of students towards constructive activities" is the best way to counter the ragging menace. And, hence, the varsity proposal to create more opportunities for students to participate in sports and cultural activities. The varsity, in fact, has established nodal centres dedicated to particular sports at different places in the state: "These centres would organise inter-college games in that particular sport."

Says a faculty head at the varsity: "The students who know that bright careers await them if they do well in their studies don't waste time perpetrating such sadistic stunts on others." But, they could well be its victims. Will insurance protect them? Will it act as a deterrent and not just compensation? Vice-chancellor Gupta can only say: "I hope that no student needs to raise a claim under this insurance scheme."

<b>Coalition to Uproot Ragging from Education (CURE)</b>
<a href="" href="http://www.noragging.com">http://www.noragging.com"> www.noragging.com </a>