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Common sense

On Right and Wrong

I read this news article few days back.

You are seeing the father of Aman, young student who died on Sunday after being ragged, & allegedly beaten up by some seniors at a medical college in Himachal Pradesh.

It infuriated me.

Why is this important? After all, we hear many such stories. Sure, its a tragedy and we sympathize with the father, and all that. Is there anything new above? What can we do? We have to express our grief and then move on, to the next interesting news or blog. In fact, the above is just another statistical piece of information. No, I am not being cynical, but I am only expressing the real sentiments of practical people.

So, is there anything profound that yet-another-blogger can add to the above news? Maybe, one can try.

The ragging tragedy is not news to me, and such tragedies continue to infuriate me, for the last 15 years . Every time. Not one degree less! Naturally, I have been bringing up this topic on educated social circles, and especially among passed-out students who are the future of this country, in my attempt to see their reaction. That helps us to understand where we are heading, in terms of finding solutions to our problems. The shocking reality is, among the students, there is a vast majority of them, educated brilliant students, who cannot unconditionally condemn ragging! Usually the reaction is along the lines of 'ragging is fun' but they admit that "sometimes" it gets out of control. They would assure that ragging has some benefits (such as preparing students to 'fit in' real world etc...Nonsense!!) inspite of such tragedies. Eventually the consensus would be "harmless ragging" should be acceptable.

That phrase "harmless ragging" is not alone. Expanding into other social issues, one could easily gather phrases such as "noble dictator", "reasonable superstition", "socially religious" etc. etc. What is going on here? When we cannot get ourselves to admit that something is totally, unconditionally wrong, we invent idiotic phrases such as these! Instead of sincerely thinking through and making a clear decision, we cower. Cringe. Grovel. Shame!

3 years ago, I helped a young bachelor student to stay with me in Bangalore, because he was very upset with the ragging in his college hostel in Hosur. I asked him to stay at my house. In the cold early morning, I dropped him at his college in my motor-bike, and then came back all the way to my work at Bangalore. I was not able to completely address his situation other than asking him "to adjust." After a few weeks, I had to leave Bangalore. I told him that he should not give up his self-respect, nor his individual rights at any cost. Few months later, I heard that he quit his college and went back to the little town where we both came from. Of course, the news was devastating to me.

Months passed by, and he managed to get admission in a college at GreatBritain. The very same person who could not handle the college environment nearby home, moved to UK and survived there without any family/friends to help him "fit in" in real world! He is now a software engineer, at a respectable firm. I was very happy for him, and I felt ashamed for all of us!

The easy point is: Ragging is morally wrong. No ifs & buts. Its just wrong.

The difficult reality to take home is: Just like our passed-out students, in their denial mode, failing to admit the above point, there are many other social issues where our intelligentsia comes up with lame excuses, under the guise of many "isms" (moral relativism, post-modernism etc) Coating the nonsensical ideas with intellectual terms does not make them respectable. Spade is a spade is a spade.

Looking back at it, there has to be a reason for the denial by students. Its because, like every other tribe, students tend to protect their student-group. If its a choice between my-group OR justice, barring few exceptional people, the choice is always "my group." How sad! But, why should one feel the need to protect the group? After all, we are only talking about condemning and opinions. Its almost always along the lines of "You dont understand the student psychology. It is not that bad. (Its only a little less bad?) Not all colleges are so bad as this. etc etc" In other words, you dont understand the "group." Or, a fear that others are "showing the group in bad light!"

In every social problem, the discussions go in circles-and-circles unnecessarily because of the above fear. Or, to be precise, lack of trust. When someone condemns or attacks an evil practice, is it better to come out clean and join hands to fight against the evil, OR, to cower and cringe and grovel due to fear & lack of trust at others?!


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posted by Jey @ 5:03 PM,


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