From Tradition to Trauma: Examining the Dark Side of Ragging in Medical Education

Khanij Arya, 3rd Year MBBS, Government Medical College Patiala

Kunal Shah, 3rd Year MBBS, HBT Medical College, Mumbai

Within the hallowed halls of academia, we not only delve into textbooks but also embark on a profound journey to unravel the intricate lessons of life. College becomes our crucible, where experiences forge character, friendships are the chapters, and resilience becomes the ink that writes our narrative. Yet, in this sanctuary of growth, an unwelcome shadow looms, an insidious force that threatens to mar the ink of resilience- BULLYING commonly known as ragging. Once thought of as a playful woe, we today find it deep-seated as an uninvited guest in every college out there.

As we began our journey into the medical world the idea of being in touch with medicine thrilled us, we wanted to be a part of the college as fast as our feet could run but the fear of ragging pulled us like weights tethered to the wings of freedom. College, once touted as the best years of our lives, has turned into a breeding ground of snarky comments and junior-senior interactions. These have led to a prominent establishment of social hierarchies and exclusionary tactics. Ragging has become normalized to the point where it has become accepted as a part of the college experience. From the cutting remarks that wound the spirit to the unrelenting demands that crush the resolve, bullying in medical colleges inflicts wounds that run deeper than the scalpel’s edge.

Peer pressure and the desire to fit in fuels this phenomenon. It has instilled in our peers anxiety, depression and severe cases even suicide. It asserts itself as a genuine threat to mental well-being. This toxic culture fosters an environment where vulnerability is perceived as weakness. While navigating yourself out of bullying is as easy as trying to find your way through a room full of invisible banana peels, it lies upon ourselves to curb this trend and establish a healthy environment.

Here are a few suggestions that we believe could help reform this:

Student Support Groups:

Establish student-led support groups where individuals can share their experiences and seek guidance. Facilitate open discussions to address concerns and promote a supportive environment.

Multilingual Campaigns:

Create anti-ragging campaigns in multiple languages to cater to the diverse student population. Ensure that information is accessible and easily understood by everyone.

Implementation: Collaborate with language departments, student clubs, or linguistic experts to develop materials in various languages. Disseminate these through posters, digital platforms, and in-person campaigns.

Randomised Dormitory Checks:

Conduct surprise inspections in student dormitories to deter any potential ragging activities. This proactive approach reinforces the commitment to maintaining a safe and inclusive campus environment.

Implementation: Rotate inspection schedules to prevent predictability. Communicate the purpose of these checks, emphasizing the commitment to ensuring a ragging-free campus.

Collaboration with NGOs:

Partner with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) specialising in anti-ragging initiatives. Leverage their expertise and resources to enhance the effectiveness of prevention programs.

Implementation: Establish formal partnerships with reputable NGOs, involve them in awareness campaigns, and seek their guidance in implementing best practices. Regularly assess and refine collaboration strategies.

Mobile Applications:

Develop a dedicated mobile application that provides information on anti-ragging policies, reporting mechanisms, and support resources. Utilize technology to empower students and streamline communication.

Implementation: Collaborate with app developers or leverage existing platforms. Promote the app during orientation sessions and integrate it into the college’s communication channels.

Inclusive Events:

Organise inclusive events that celebrate diversity and promote unity among students. Emphasize the value of respecting differences and creating an environment where everyone feels accepted.

Implementation: Incorporate inclusive themes into existing college events, ensuring representation from various cultural, ethnic, and social groups. Actively involve students in planning and executing these events.

Psychological Counselling Services:

Expand on-campus counselling services to specifically address the emotional and psychological consequences of ragging. Provide a safe space for students to seek professional support.

Implementation: Collaborate with mental health professionals, allocate resources for counselling services, and promote their accessibility. Integrate mental health awareness into the college curriculum to reduce stigma.

In conclusion, the journey through medical education is meant to be a transformative experience, shaping not only competent healthcare professionals but also resilient individuals capable of navigating life’s challenges. However, the pervasive issue of ragging threatens to cast a dark shadow over this transformative process. The tales of Khanij Arya and Kunal Shah shed light on the corrosive impact of bullying within the walls of medical colleges, where the pursuit of knowledge should foster camaraderie, not cruelty.

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