By Mian Ridge
The Christian Science Monitor
NEW DELHI – Aman Kachroo was a handsome, easygoing 19-year-old in the first year of medical school in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
On March 6, at 2 a.m., he was awakened by a group of drunken senior students and dragged out of his bed for a “ragging,” the bullying systematically meted out to first-year undergraduates in Indian universities. He and half a dozen other freshmen were slapped, punched, and had their heads beaten against a wall for two hours. The following day, Aman died of brain injuries.
Initiation rites for new students occur throughout the world. But India’s version has grown alarmingly violent. Aman’s death was the 12th caused by ragging – a tally that includes suicides – in the past year alone, according to the Coalition to Uproot Ragging in Schools (CURE), a nongovernmental organization.
“When I was at university, ragging was a bit of fun,” says Aman’s father, Raj Kachroo. “So when Aman told me about the ragging a few days before he died, I did not take him seriously.… I now realize it has become something entirely different.”
Within days of his son’s death, Mr. Kachroo, a former professor of engineering, began a nationwide campaign against the practice. With a team of lawyers, the organization he established, the Aman Movement (www.amanmovement.org), petitioned the Supreme Court to make ragging illegal. In May, the court declared it a “human rights abuse in essence.” Now Kachroo, an engineering consultant, has taken a year off to speak in schools and colleges around India to help make that judgment a reality. Full story.