So this morning, Delhi Times seems to have decided to give in to its well-known itch to be populist. A newspaper that gives the reader that which it wants to read.
So who are these readers? Well, students who rag, or to use an alternative term suggested by one of them they "mass interact". It shocks me to read this, because the very same newspaper had a few months back published an article which spoke out against ragging, talking about how it needs to go completely. And then went ahead and published a letter I'd written in response to it in which I talked about how ragging is actually a "people breaking" activity rather than an "ice-breaking activity".
I remember being pleasantly surprised that they had decided to publish such a strong view on ragging.
But I guess, that was just an off-season discount they were giving to anti-ragging voices. Or perhaps, in the wake of a ragging death they thought it better to toe that line at that point of time.
The sheer ignorance of the person who's typed this article out is shocking (not a journalist, I'd like to believe). Quoting benevolent seniors, and beneficiary juniors she is apparently on a "Human Interest" mission here. Don't be scared juniors, ragging is not all bad. It might have killed a couple, blinded a few, and left some psychologically scarred but it can be all fun. That's if and only if you decide to have fun in whatever degree of humiliation you are made to undergo. And no its not forceful. You can voluntarily participate in quite a range of activities from hearing abusive language to engaging in obscene acts such as stripping, sodomy etc in hostels that are "safe zones".
Surely, the writer is either ignorant of these possibilities or fond of them.
As part of this "Human Interest" mission to absolve the fear of Juniors, the writer clears the air on a series of myths. For instance, she says ragging does not lead to "depression, disrespect and death"! Ah! Such brilliant alliteration! Hostels are a "safe zone", where what happens is actually a "positive interaction".
Its a shame that an article that reeks of such ignorance and insensitiveness is given space on the pages of a newspaper. An absolute shame.
An article that tries to pacify students should have been about what Juniors can do in case they undergo anything that they feel is unacceptable. It should have quoted passages from the Raghavan Committee's recommendations. It should have been an article that tries to change the fact that very few students actually seek police intervention if/when needed. It should have been about an article about Dr. Rajendra Kachroo's efforts at mobilizing an anti-ragging helpline.
It should have been about Dr. Kachroo's fight and that of other anti-ragging activists towards ensuring that hostels and campuses at large are indeed safe zones. Not zones that are at a safe distance from any sense of accountability if/when a student is found seriously injured or worse still, dead. Because... wake up.. that Has happened enough times just this last year and at a time when ragging was not at its peak. Fact: 63% incidents take place in hostels! And I'd say, that's still a conservative estimate!
I can't help but thinking that writers like this and shows like Dadagiri must take responsibility of ragging deaths, because they play Devil's Advocate.
So what would happen if, God forbid, there's a ragging death in the near future? The story would read very differently and be very critical of the Heinous Practice of Ragging. After all, what's a highest selling newspaper without its fair share of double standards?
"We'd covered that story last year." a journalist said to me when I had called her to enquire about a certain story I felt was important to cover. "What came of that article?" I asked. To which she replied "What comes of an article? It's just an article."
In the film Notting Hill, Hugh Grant says "Today's newspapers would be lining up tomorrow's dustbins."
On such sensitive issues like ragging, that demand a degree of discernment (i.e alliteration isn't the tough part) we can very well do without writers who just seem to be aiming words at dustbins.
Addition by Shruti:
What I would like to add is the following dialogue to Hugh Grant's in 'Notting Hill'. Whilst stories of consequence hit the bin the next morning, some others do live forever - the ones in the celeb Gossip columns!
I mean -- today's newspapers will be
lining tomorrow's waste paper bins.
Well, you know -- it's just one day.
Today's papers will all have been
thrown away tomorrow.
You really don't get it. This story
gets filed. Every time anyone writes
anything about me -- they'll dig up
these photos. Newspapers last forever.
I'll regret this forever.