An insight into "RAGGING"
Tick tock tick tock...... I can hear my watch ticking. My heart is thumping in my throat. Beads of sweat slowly trickle down my forehead. It's 3 am. I’ve been forced to crouch down in my boxers in the corner of a shabby room for the past 3 hours. When will they let go of me? Will I be beaten black and blue? As these thoughts race through my mind, Aravind is hurled across the room and groans in pain. We scramble out of the room as we're kicked out. Well, yet another night in the hostel of our medical college. Turns out, the seniors are blowing off some steam having a few beers and we, the juniors are their cabaret .
As I think about my junior year, all that goes through my mind are flashes of these nightmares of the never ending nights. All the tittle-tattle that gave medical college an analogy to the garden of Eden vanished in a jiffy within the first week. Fresh out of high school, 18 year olds are clueless about life ahead, having lived their entire life without any such emotional experiences of life. It is an age when hormones are surging through your body with an emotionally immature mind that would idolize anybody who might guide them through this entirely new life that unfolds before them. It's a time when most teenagers realize what they really want in life and understand where their grounding is. This unsought natural instability is taken advantage of by some misguided students who perpetuate this godforsaken tradition. This has been going on for ages. Lasting for the first 8 months of junior year, the so-called "ragging" , the pernicious cancer intimidates newcomers out of their wits, forcing them into a state of captivity.
People react differently to different situations. Some kids are privileged to be brought up to be bold and courageous and survive through any calamity in life while most kids in this modern era discover their emotional strength only when they're away from their parents. As ragging takes its toll , most kids are left in a state of emotional shock. To be honest , I wondered a million times if all that I went through to get to college was worth this ‘horror’. The bullying ranges from different forms of psychological trauma to physical pain. Any sign of resistance is considered as defiance of authority.
Here's the deal-breaker; something that you cannot wrap your head around. You may wonder why the juniors don’t stand up to their seniors and defy this ordeal. Well let me explain, on the 3rd night of first year hostel life , a meeting is held between the seniors and juniors. They call it a 'general body meeting', also known as GBM. The seniors repeatedly tell the juniors that making it through the first year exams without the help and guidance of a senior is incredibly difficult and impossible. This brainwashing propaganda continues for a week, until every sheep commits itself to the "rules of ragging" which includes taking a beating for no reason and being a servant for a senior. A few kids (maybe one in fifty) who have enough self-esteem to call their bluff opt out of this, and move out of hostel. The rest head to the slaughterhouse.
If you think about it happening in this modern age wherein reforms grow by leaps and bounds with ideals of feminism, liberation of LGBT and of course, Donald Trump in the West, "ragging" might even make Hitler raise an eyebrow if he were around today.
Though its origins can be traced far back to the ancient Greeks where it was meant to instil a team spirit among athletes, the roots of this tree underwent a myriad of modifications as it invaded the education system. Today, Psychologists attribute this strange behaviour among senior students to a few factors, which include , muzzled freedom of expression at home or in the communities the bullies come from, a compulsive urge to be sadistic, and deep seated sluggishness and insecurity which lead to desperate dependence on soft targets to get their jobs done. However, the most compelling reason seems to be egotism coupled with a superiority complex. Every act of ragging is intended to demonstrate ‘control and command’, thereby inculcating a belief in the juniors that the seniors are inevitably important to them throughout their five-year stay at the college.
While all this may sound fiendish and Mephistophelean to you, there's more to it. You must be scratching your head wondering how this abominable behaviour has transcended all codes of social order over the years and not deterred despite all the ethics drilled into perpetrators for 12 years that has brought them to this point in their career. A reasonable metaphoric explanation would be a margarita containing a pint of "do unto others what others do unto you" with a dash of "follow the beaten track" on the rocks .
As they say, every cloud has a silver lining. Not everybody has a finger in the pie. The ‘thugs’ account for 10 to 15% in each college. But yes, you will read articles and news about how the intensity has diminished today and is non-existent in private colleges. As a student of a 'Government' Medical college and being a witness to all that's going on around me, I can reassure you that what you hear is as authentic as “Jack The Ripper has been convicted”.*
Habits die hard. It takes 21 days to make or merely break a habit. Leading life coaches like Les Brown and Bob Proctor advocate that our habits define who we are. Habits take control of the wheel and pump in the gas to life. Bafflingly analogous to an inherited trait or our shadows that never fail to follow us, habits determine our life. Just like how a chain smoker owes his lung cancer to the addiction that followed the moment he stubbed his first cigarette, medicos who train to become professional doctors are no exception to this law of nature. Just like a feudal lord with an ever-growing waistline of ego and pride overfed by his medieval menials , sooner than later these doctors tend to develop a misconceived notion and self-opinionated behaviour that they are above all those who don't belong to or practice his profession.
Almost like an HIV infection that gradually progresses to AIDS , the virus takes its first toll on the doctor-patient relationship. Some doctors tend to be uncomfortable with a patient reasoning out with them since they assume they are unquestionable, and remain under the illusion of being well above all the people around them. This undesirable trait in a doctor’s personality is traceable to his/her student days when he/she was a medico.
College is where we mature not just academically but socially, emotionally, physically and ethically. After all, we're doctors. We are the Supermen and Batmen of the society. We save lives. We save the day.
Every medical college needs to be concerned about the ethical aspect to a student’s life as much as his academic one.
All the claims about "no ragging" that each government medical college boasts of are not adequately supported. The ground reality is individual incidents of ragging are investigated, and a collective warning is given to all. After a temporary sense of relief that the evil has been nipped in the bud, a few weeks down the line, the ugly monster resurfaces and the situation silently slides back to square one. To be honest, there shouldn't have been a bud in the first place.
I believe medicos need to be taught at the grass-root levels about human values and ethics and re-taught about the nobility that surrounds this profession. It needs to be inculcated into their way of life. Being a better human being each day in a medical college should become as automated as brushing your teeth every morning. Administrators and students should cease to be passive onlookers at the gnawing situations. If this situation at college campus were brought about, maxim of altruism that we've been taught all along would actually have a practical meaning. A society without the "holier than thyself" attitude is one where patients look up to their doctors as friends, guides and great counsellors.
Jefferson George (3RD MBBS)