A welcome decision | Daily News

A welcome decision

President Maithripala Sirisena’s decision to go all out to weed out ragging in the universities, no doubt, would be welcomed by all right thinking citizens of this country. Cruel forms of ragging are often reported in the media but other than some noises being made by those in authority and drastic action threatened against the perpetrators the matter is allowed to die down and it is back to square one. Today our universities have fallen to the level of veritable torture chambers where parents dread to send their children.

By the President’s own admission the necessary laws are in place to deal with this menace but had not been implemented since they were enacted in 1998 when the late Richard Pathirana was the Education Minister. It is strange indeed that in the face of inhuman ragging in the universities, which had resulted even in deaths, why these laws continued to remain dormant. Speaking at a ceremony to launch a Vocational Training Institute at Hingurakkgoda, the President said he had instructed the university authorities and law enforcement agencies to file charges against university students involved in ragging, adding that the government would not allow extremists to destroy the future of the new students. He noted that although there were laws to punish those found guilty of ragging, the laws remain unused and ineffective. He said those involved in ragging were not concerned about the future of their victims who are harassed and suffer physically and mentally.” There were instances where ragging victims committed suicide or die from the inhuman treatment inflicted by the seniors. This must be stopped once and for all”, he asserted.

No doubt, ragging in our universities has reached monstrous proportions unlike in the past where initiation of freshers to the university environment were done by the seniors in a civilized fashion albeit with the usual grilling. Nay, ragging today is done for sadistic pleasure by those segments who carry a chip on their shoulders due to social inferiority or other complexes in character stemming from their particular social backgrounds or class origins, according to studies carried out on the reasons for inhuman ragging in our universities. The studies also found that a majority of this sadistic ragging is engaged in by students in the Arts stream, hailing from the villages, and whose lives had been marked by poverty and other forms of deprivation.

Hence, it would also be appropriate for the authorities to go deep into the root causes of ragging of the type that is witnessed today in our universities where youths whose characters are marked by insecurity give vent to their frustrations in the form of sadistic conduct.

Like the President said, a handful of students should not be allowed to play with the future of the majority who look forward to build their lives with a sound education that could only be ensured in a condusive environment. Sadly, our universities today are known not only for inhuman ragging but also radicalization of youth for causes that are destructive. Campuses today have been turned into hot-beds of radical politics where youth have embraced doctrines that can only spell ruin for their future. Due to these reasons parents today are reluctant to send their children to our universities, the affluent among them preferring to educate their offspring abroad, instead. Upon completion of their higher education these students are bound to settle down in those countries which will avail of their talents and expertise, exacerbating the massive brain drain Sri Lanka is confronted with.

In addition there are also countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand which have opened the doors to Sri Lankan students where they are given the opportunity to work and study in their countries which again will be to the detriment of this country at a time the President is extending invitations to Sri Lankan professionals domiciled in the west to return to their motherland and employ their skills for the country’s development.

Hence, measures should be taken to retain what is left of our experts, and, what is more, the budding professionals that will be produced by our universities. This can only be done by an assurance from the authorities that our universities will strictly remain centres of higher education and not places where inmates give vent to their sadistic tendencies. Therefore, the need to strictly implement the law against those sabotaging the education of our youth, instead of merely confining it to the statue books, cannot be overemphasized.

Of motions and loose motions

Parliament where motions are passed routinely for the passage of Bills was to see a different type of motion being discussed, the day following the JO janabalaya demo, where MP Wimal Weerawansa accused UNP Colombo District MP Mujibur Rahuman for causing loose motions among some of the participants, due to supporters of the latter distributing contaminated milk packets to the crowds. Now, it is reported that Rahuman is planning to take the loose motion accusation to court- another domain where motions are often presented by legal counsel. 

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