A national convention on
student discipline has held that Sri Lanka is the worst affected
country in our region with regard to the incidences of ragging.
Ragging is not a new phenomenon. Though it was present in the
University campuses ever since the opening of the University
College in the colonial era it took the present crude and
violent form only after the proliferation of universities and
the qualitative increase of the student intake.
Very often the senior undergraduates coming from impoverished
social backgrounds give vent to their frustration and despair by
inflicting humiliating punishment on the innocent fresh
students. It is a warped means of expressing "class solidarity"
by the mob leaders who conduct these bouts of ragging.
Therefore, the issue of ragging cannot be considered a law
and order problem alone. There are other socio-economic factors
too that would have caused the persistence of the problem even
after the enactment of stringent anti-ragging laws.
Chief Justice Asoka de Silva has, however, called for more
stringent laws and their implementation. He has also expressed
grave concern over the politicization of the students, which is
considered a factor that leads to ragging.
Empirical observations too have witnessed a set of
politically motivated student leaders who have less interest in
pursuing studies to obtain a degree than in mobilizing student
protests against the authorities.
University students as adults should have their freedom to
engage in politics of their choice. It is unquestionable.
However, Universities as breeding grounds of intellectuals
should have an environment which is favourable to intellectual
discourse and debate. It cannot be a place where opposing
political ideologies lead to violent physical clashes between
their adherents. Unfortunately the latter is the case today.
It has also been observed that the practice of ragging is
used as a method to attract fresh students to the political
organizations to which those who engage in ragging belong to.
Ragging in general is an affront to the dignity of the
person. It is a violation of the victim's human rights. Physical
and mental injuries caused during ragging has caused trauma in
many instances. There were also incidents of victims being
deformed or being killed.
Though new laws were enacted about a decade ago to contain
this ugly practice, it has not been able to do so. Besides, the
law has been rarely implemented too. Even in cases in which the
culprits have been brought before Courts they escape punishment
due to lack of evidence as witnesses fear intimidation and
It is necessary for the University teachers to engage the
student community in a continuous dialogue on the need to do
away with this ugly practice. Political party leaders who turn a
blind eye to such blatant violations of human rights by their
followers and members should also take the blame. There is a
need for political consensus at high level to do away with this
system. Ragging is part of anti-social behaviour. It is a
practice that cannot be justified on any grounds.
New and innovative means should be introduced by the
University authorities in association with student unions to
welcome fresh students and encourage them to get acquainted with
the campus set up in a freer atmosphere.
Fixtures and valuables keep disappearing from stately abodes
occupied by notable personages. First it was a valuable painting
from no less a place than the Presidential abode some years ago.
Recently we had a another 'key' fixture taking wing back home in
the baggage of a diplomat. Now comes the news that a legislator
who held the post of a Deputy Minister walking off with some
furniture and fittings of his Ministry office along with his
appointment to a new portfolio.
This predilection of loathing by our notable and quotable to
part with coveted possessions that they do not own needs careful
analysis. Apparently this breed has developed a proprietary
interest in not only the high office they occupy but also the
luxuries that go with it.Growing amidst these luxuries they may
well develop a sentimental attachment to some of its symbols.
They may well be excused for their indiscretions which are after
all human failings.But the question to be asked is whether this
'out put' could come even near the real output of their services
rendered to the public through the high office they occupied.