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Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: Ragging menace grips Odisha acutely. The State figures among the top -10 states that bear the maximum anti-ragging complaints lodged in the UGCs anti-ragging helpline in 2019.

The enormity of ragging in Odisha could very well be ascertained from the fact that the State recorded around 35 ragging complaints every year.

In the last seven-and-half years (2012-19), the national anti-ragging helpline number has recorded nearly 250 ragging complaints from Odisha. And the Veer Sai Surendra University of Technology (VSSUT) topped the list of 'infamous' institutes in the State.

Two other major names in the ragging 'infamy' list are: VSS Institute of Medical Sciences, MKCG Medical College, Berhampur.

However, during the period of 2012-19,  State's many top-rated and popular institutes or colleges, both in the government & private sector, have not remained immune to the virus of ragging affliction. Name one and you will find them in the 'infamy' list.

From Ravenshaw University, AIIMS - Bhubaneswar, National Institute of Fashion Technology - Bhubaneswar to institutes affiliated to BPUT, Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT), institutes affiliated to Shiksha -O-Anusandhan (SOA) university, ragging complaints from students studying there have been lodged in the UGCs anti-ragging helpline number over the years.

A glance at the complaints maintained by the UGC portal reveals that the lion's share of ragging complaints against government-run institutions have come from the VSS, Burla and MKCG, Berhampur; whereas in the private sector many 'big' institutes share the burden.

The UGC's anti-ragging helpline has concluded that all such complaints of ragging stand closed now, which means necessary action was taken by the respective institutes. However, what seems nagging is if proper action had been initiated, then how come the instances of ragging keep protruding  repeatedly.

It's only today reports of mass ragging have again come from the VSSUT, Burla. This shows the anti-ragging measures, which were asked by the Apex court to strictly comply with by the higher educational institutes across the country, have remained on paper only.

The Supreme Court in its Judgement in 2009 had clearly observed that despite all regulations against ragging, reports of ragging cases have come from across the country, which showed that the onus is now rested on the management of the institutes. Only proper action against institute heads could curb the menace in a big way, the Judgement observed.

The Judgement when seen in the Odisha context, seems most prudent. Because, it has been observed that most ragging complaints have been coming from a set of higher educational institutes over the years in the State. This shows the administrators in the institutes are lax in implementing the anti-ragging guidelines set up by UGC.

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