Wednesday, October 20, 2010

It's All About Ego


After understanding the phenomenon of ragging from the perspective of a fresher, we now try to look at it from the other side of the window: the senior.

A student who can still remember the barbaric acts he was put through less than a year back now chooses to indulge in those very acts with a new set of students, evaporating the line between victim and perpetrator. Ragging provides a deep and worrying view into how morality has degraded in society and just how much tomorrow's civil society will care about law and order.

So, why does it happen? The simple answer is: ego. Ragging gives you a sense of power so great that it can blind your finer sensibilities. The ability to crush the powerless is a characteristic of human desires and has defined humanity for centuries. It has created Dalits, it has led to genocide and riots. Nobody is free from this desire. When a senior student sees a fresher - new, uncertain, ignorant - his first desire is to harm him. This is true: the first desire is not to befriend but to harm.

Why would any right-thinking person want to harm an absolute stranger? Well, the idea is not to harm him but given him a 'preview' of what he (the senior) could do if provoked. Bluntly put: the senior wants to create a sense of fear in the freshers so that he can derive a sense of power from that fear. It is very common in the social hierarchy in our society for people to wrongly identify fear with respect or discipline. Ragging is simply a manifestation of that.

Over this desire for respect i.e., a desire to fulfill an ego, a vast array of excuses has been created. Ragging has been described as a rite to passage, a way to 'break the ice' and even a necessity in order to prevent freshers from becoming arrogant (as if seniors are free of arrogance themselves). It is none of these in reality. Rather, it is just a way for a senior to create a false sense of pride in himself.

An Organized Crime
But simply forcing a fresher to do some silly stunts is not enough to fulfill an ego that was kept at bay for a year. A senior who indulges in ragging would do it according to a plan: every word would be calculated, every act premeditated. Why? Because a plan well-executed creates a great sense of joy. And a plan which can create a false sense of power, when executed properly, is the ultimate aim of such a senior.

There exists all over the Internet forums where students come together and discuss how to rag freshers. It goes well beyond the usual dramatics and singing/dancing. In case of hostels, it regularly enters the realm of physical and sexual abuse. It is a sort of temptation for the taboo: what one cannot do in public, one would like to do in private simply because it gives one a great sense of exhilaration to break rules.

The final component of the ego fulfillment is a sense of revenge. It is wrongly said that once the ragging period has ended, the juniors can do as they please in front of their seniors. This is false because if it were true, then the very purpose of ragging would be defeated! If it happens, it is because the junior chooses to forget, though not necessarily forgive.

Abusing a fresher gives a senior a great sense of pleasure because it signifies revenge against the seniors who tortured him a year back. Although this is not revenge by any meaning of the term, since the original perpetrators go free, it is certainly the intent.

Thus, a sense of (false) power, a badly bruised ego, an organized network and a powerful desire to extract revenge create the mental setting for ragging. But mental setting is not enough: many other factors go into securing their success. We discuss these factors in subsequent posts.

Next: Supreme Court? Not in my room!

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