[Outlook India] Insured Ragging
A novel insurance scheme for freshers covers them against ragging
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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.
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
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.
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.
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
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>
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