May 31, 2017
This morning when I switched on the TV on hearing that a fire broke out in Gem Hospital, Coimbatore, this news of Union Human Resources Development Minister Prakash Javadekar launching the `Anti Ragging App’ in New Delhi hit almost every news channel I scrolled to check updates of the hospital news. This app introduced by the University Grants Commission provides easy access to students to register complaints of any ragging menace. Mr.Javadekar pointed out that as per his knowledge, majority of senior students only help guide their juniors and properly mentor them, but in few cases ragging happens, which needs to be eliminated completely. Thanks to the UGC and our HRD minister for having formulated such apps to help those in distress.
Pon Navarasu, who was ragged and brutally murdered by his senior, John David, for not stripping and licking his footwear created waves of fury and panic not only in India but outside too. Aman Sathya Kachroo, who succumbed to head injuries after being ragged, had filed complaints against his seniors just the day before his assault. Another, 17 year old aeronautical engineering student Ajmal was set on fire by his seniors in 2012. The year 2014 saw Akash, a pharmaceutical student from Kolkata, found dead on the railway tracks after incidents of bullying by his seniors. The Delhi Public School Noida ragging case featured a 15-year-old boy hospitalised after 17 seniors hit him with metal rods while returning to hostel after dinner.
While ragging has resulted in the murder of so many innocent kids, eve teasing and rape cases have devoured the lives of many daughters and sisters. The Nirbhaya case of December 2012 that creates tremor in every person’s mind till date caused ripples across the entire globe but was followed by the Haryana gang rape case at Sonepat in May, 2013. No one can forget the several other cases of gangrapes that hit headlines shortly then after like a trend.
But amidst so many crimes, the killing of a teacher in a private school in Chennai by her own student in 2012 chilled everyone’s blood. Uma Maheswari was stabbed several times by her student as he was upset after being repeatedly reprimanded by her for his poor performance in studies. During investigation, the boy confessed to the police that the movie `Agneepath’ had influenced him to avenge his teacher who had written negative remarks of him.
In 1998, Sarika Shah of Ethiraj College in Chennai succumbed to head injuries post eve-teasing in our college vicinity in Mount Road. The poignancy of the case was that the last day of her life was her birthday. The acid attack on Preethi Rathi leaves even the most strong-willed person terror-stricken.
Any number of articles or reports would not suffice to jot down even the list of victims of such gruesome cases. Such is the rate of surging crimes in this Internet era. It is here that the thought comes whether mere apps and nano technology chips with miniscule spy cameras alone put an end to crimes. I can figure out the innumerable quick-witted perspicacious techie brains that have gone into the formulation of these panic alert Android apps. Simply hats off to them. But the dubiety remains.
These apps alone cannot put a stop to crimes. Post Nirbhaya case too similar panic alert apps were introduced. But such cases went up to peak with that of Swathi, the young girl who was massacred publicly in the railway station during daytime in Chennai. Surveillance and spy cameras and Android apps, I would say, are just like encaging ourselves, might it be individually or as a family, when beasts are let loose, with a ratio of 1victim:innumerable predators. When the judiciary sentences juvenile accused to be sent to rehabilitation homes for counselling, the same can well be to have moral education in school curriculum.
Having had my formal education from Rosary Matriculation, a Christian educational institution in Chennai, I owe my disciplines not only to my parents but my school run by Franciscan nuns, where moral science was a compulsory subject right from kindergarten till higher secondary with exams conducted and marks allotted. The recent news of Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads, for sowing seeds of human values in the toddlers’ minds being made compulsory for Fifth Grade students in Netherlands left me exhilarated.
At a PTA meeting in my kids’ former school where I insisted on holy scriptures being taught to children I was mocked at as being outdated. I had suggested teaching holy books of all religions as a subject. I defended saying that though man-made, every religion spreads spiritual and human values in its own way. But one of the fathers mocked asking if `Garuda Puranas’ were instructed to children in Gurukulams of ancient times, just imagine the crime rates of those days. He said we are far better nowadays passing sickening comments assuming it to be a joke!
I am totally unaware of the features of these panic alert apps. But still when such beasts attack suddenly, at the most unexpected moment, my question is that will they spare time to the victims to use their smart phones to send out alarm signals. And then there is the question of how many can afford a smart phone. To put it in simple words, while laws sentence juveniles to rehabilitation homes for counseling, yoga and meditation, post gruesome incidents devouring innocent lives, such measures should be enforced in every school as part of the curriculum or academics whatsoever they may term it.
In a world of busy working parents who cannot spare time even for personal introspection, how can they squeeze the left over time for keeping track of children’s activities? In that case the entire responsibility falls upon the second home called `school’ to impart values in young developing minds. Sans proper attention, they can easily get diverted towards vices.
Recollecting one of my childhood bed time stories of a juvenile who was sentenced to life time imprisonment for a murder, the boy accuses his parents of not correcting him while he was young, and that he received punishment for his parents’ crimes. Thus mere apps and technologies won’t suffice to meet the escalating crime rates. Instead imparting moral education as a compulsory subject in educational institutions is the need of the hour. Just remember what we all learnt in school – Prevention is better than cure.
So rather than providing “life jackets” teaching the young minds the techniques of swimming avoiding dreaded zones to escape whirlpools is what is wanted today.
Disclaimer: The views expressed above are the author’s own.
(The author of the column is Uma Ram, freelance writer from Coimbatore)