I swear

"The problem", remarked a friend wistfully as we stood up amidst stifled murmurs and blasé one-liners, "is that they think we’re really stupid and we think just the same about them." I looked at her and nodded as we began to repeat after the voice blaring from the speakers. After we were finished taking oath, she clarified concernedly, "neither is entirely true you know!"

So college started a few weeks ago, and we third-years had been practicing cocky swaggers, meaning to intimidate the fresh troop of students that will enter college next week. The new entrants are, with fashionable indifference, referred to as ‘junis’ or even ‘kids’ or ‘children’ when variety asks- a trend we despised and protested until it was time to adopt it ourselves, which we happily did.

The powers that be, it seems, were quick to anticipate our sadistic urges. Ergo, batches of third-years were herded into the college auditorium and warned of dire consequences if found bullying freshers. This, ladies and gentlemen, was the anti-ragging campaign in all its might.

No, No, it was a commendable move- pulling stops to prevent Ragging in college, lest you think otherwise. One can remember one’s own days of naivety and youth as one was always on high-alert for ‘suspicious behavior’ from senior beings. Ragging, in most forms is quite, quite terrible. Nobody deserves to be harassed or their self-esteem ravaged, however pressing someone else’s need to ‘get to know juniors better’ may be.

Back at school, last week, fingers were wagged, laws read out, grave faces and comments made- all in a day’s work. Like that wasn’t enough, we were asked to stand up, clutch our hearts and ‘pledge’ never to Rag first-years. The oath-taking was done with much seriousness and ceremony.

What followed, though, made for some quality entertainment. Under a directive from the government, we also promised nobody in particular that we would not ‘give or accept dowry’. Prompting the aforementioned observation by the friend and much, much laughter and giggling in the filled-to-capacity audi.

A range of Threats, Warnings and Oaths later, we filed out of the auditorium wondering what-the-(unparliamentary word) that was about. Professors returned to their stations, having completed necessary rituals. Complacent government officials and bureaucratic-armchair-programme-innovators patted themselves on the back for this year’s ingenuity. Everybody is happy, and The Handbook of Archaic Methods and Prehistoric Perceptions (Book your copy now!) sits pretty on official shelves.

Awareness is gaining mileage as the it-word of movements today. For once, a happy trend. But really, making a bunch of foolhardy college kids sign and recite silly oaths does nothing to help awareness’ cause. I fail to understand what purposes these oaths we took (at the cost of a class), serve. Serious issues were reduced to being the butt of bored jokes. But well, we enjoyed the ceremony. Pass the popcorn, please!

So will ragging die an unmourned death? I wonder. Agreed, mild fun and mock-bullying helps break the ice. Agreed also, that things may very easily get out of hand. But do colleges do anything at all to smoothly induct newbies into their folds? Is there any concrete medium for seniors and freshers to interact without the latter having to recite nursery rhymes or sing and dance? Point to ponder.


  1. Deepa Mohan says:

    It *is* a point to ponder, and I am pondering it….we seem to do a lot of what I call “awareness theatre”!

    Recently we had a “clean” campaign in Nandi Hills; there were 160 cars there, and the trash left behind after the volunteers had had their breakfast and lunch took other volunteers (and the Gandhi Nilaya gardeners) extra long to clean….

  2. Deepa Mohan says:

    I especially love the oath we take as students that says “All Indians are my brothers and sisters.” Then I have to have a “relationship” only with a foreigner, you know….!

  3. Siri Srinivas says:


    Awareness Theater is so apt a label, I shall have to thank you for that one. That ones covered so many uncategorised instances I know of. Thanks, muchly.

    And bang on about the brothers-sisters pledge! I used to wonder too!

    I can’t imagine how the lot in my college would have reacted if they were asked to take the “all indians are my *brothers and sisters*” pledge! Horror of Horrors! :p

  4. Rakesh Kapur says:

    I am appalled at our Government. It wants to uproot the evil of Dowry. But Not making any efforts to bring this as part of the education streamline. If the menaces of anti-dowry are part of the curriculum, young minds will catch up fast and shun away from giving or taking dowry when they get into an alliacne. The law of 498A should also be taught in pre-college days so it gets embedded in the minds. It’s not that we’ve brainless people in the Government but implementation of something sane is what they shy away from – for vested interests and to keep the issues boliing for long and for masses to suffer.

  5. Siri Srinivas says:

    Rakesh, Social awareness as a part of education is critically important. But like you point out, the implementation is a tricky issue. A scourge like dowry is no laughing matter. But imagine a bunch of bubble gum chewing students taking an oath aloud. Comedy is all that shall come out of it. It went from bad to worse.

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