" Too many cases | Too many procedures | Not enough time "
This is what the life of social workers are, who are busy in fighting for us, for our safety altruistically they work day and night. Here is the journey of a social worker cum academician and researcher Dr. Raj Kachroo who lost his 19 year son Aman because of social evil-ragging. He fought for his son and got success in providing himjustice with a lot of efforts, but his journey to fight for ragging did not end there. He struggled for eradication of Ragging since the year 2009 and still fighting for this so that India will never loose somebody like Aman. Along with this, he got involved in promoting the concept of Sakhi/181 which is a network of One Stop Centers accessible through a Single Number across the Nation for providing help to Women in Distress. He is the senior partner & design director of a Craft Design company which provides part time employment to about 1500 rural women across Northern India. As he is a Software Architect and a computer programmer so he used technology with social working and leads a team of about 15 Software developers to develop Software for the Ragging Prevention Program, Sakhi/181 & other projects that his Trust is involved with.
Prof. Kachroo is the Founder Trustee of Aman Satya Kachroo Trust, which is a research foundation that promotes the use of Technology in Governance. The Trust also leads a campaign for Judicial Reform & Auditing & accountancy reform in India. Apart from Antiragging missions he also holds a deep interest in philosophy as a student which led him to publish a few articles in the Times of India "“ Spiritual Tree Column.Earlier, before being involved in Social sector he taught Surface Water Hydrology in various universities in Europe & Africa. He has done pioneering work in mathematical modeling for Flood Forecasting & Reservoir Operations. He has worked on several interesting projects in Water & Environmental Sector with leading international agencies like WMO, Unesco, Irish Aid, World Bank, IUCN, & DFID.
Question: There are many personalities like Mr. Amitabh Bachchan, who say that in 60's they had faced ragging. Did you face Ragging & what is Ragging according to you?
- Ragging is a phenomenon that is unique to India, SriLanka, Pakistan & BanglaDesh or maybe Nepal. Basically, it is a thing of the Indian Subcontinent. It used to be fun in 60's when Mr. Bachchan faced it; was still a bit of fun, but not very nice, when I faced it in my university in early 70's. But now it has metamorphosed into something very nasty. It has a chronic disease that must be eliminated from our society.
- If you slap a person on a street. You are committing a crime. You can be jailed for this crime. But when you slap a fellow student in a College Campus it is called Ragging. It does not make sense to me the same act when performed outside the campus is a Crime & when performed inside a campus is not Crime.
I have heard many students arguing that Ragging is a way of bonding, getting to know each other etc. Ragging is a foundation for lifelong friendships etc. My answer to this is that there are thousands of universities outside India, where millions of students know each other; where millions create lifelong bonds where millions help each other but they do not need to beat each other to get to know each other. I have worked in Africa, Europe, American China, etc. But I have never heard of Ragging in any of these countries. Many of them would not even know what Ragging Means.
Question: It is good to know that the Aman Satya Kachroo Trust manages the National Ragging Prevention Program of the Union Ministry of Human Resources Development. Give us a brief about work Aman Satya Kachroo Trust is doing?
- The Trust started on Ragging in April 2009. We started by seeking consent of the National Ragging Prevention Program from various Regulatory Authorities like AICTE, MCI, UGC etc. & than seeking the approval of the program from the Hon. Supreme Court in May 2009. We monitored the program as an outsider from June 2009 until the end of 2011. From January 2012 we started to manage & monitor the Program on behalf of the University Grants Commission & the Union Ministry of Human Resources.
- The program has three components.
i. Complaint Redressal.
- So far, put all our attention to Complaint Redressal. We took over the management of the 24x7 helpline & ensured that each complaint reaches its logical conclusion. Not a single complaint made is forgotten or not followed up to the end. We have also helped the Ministry of Human Resources in designing & executing their awareness campaigns on TV, Radio, News papers etc.
Question: We all know about the helpline number 1800-180-5522 which is available 24*7 for the students who face any kind of Ragging activity. But, our readers would be glad to know the procedure which they have to follow once they make a call on this number. Could you please explain the same?
The procedure is very simple.
- Anybody can make a call; it is not necessary that the Victim of Ragging is the one who calls. A caller may or not chose to give his/her name & details, so we entertain anonymous calls too.
- Immediately on receiving a call we contact the college authorities within minutes and inform them of the incident. We also inform the local police station just to keep them informed, so that in an emergency situation the Police can provide immediate relief. The phone call to the college is followed by an E mail with details of the complaint and the college, in turn, first ensures safety of the student & then asks the College Anti Ragging Committee to inquire into the matter. The report of the Committee is given to the college authorities, and if the Complainant is happy with the report then matter is closed. If the Complainant is not happy the matter is escalated to the Regulatory authorities for further investigation & so on.
"Come lets be friends, shake our hands together, exchange some vows, fulfill some promises and say no to ragging". With this vision in mind Brainbuxa has taken some efforts to stop ragging- a social evil through a video, so lets join hands together with Prof. Raj Kachroo to eradicate ragging.
Question: Ragging is something which was practiced in almost all colleges in India. But the way you and your team is working is remarkable. We would like to know that what further steps you are going to initiate for prohibiting ragging after Anti ragging Affidavits?
- Ragging was practiced in almost all colleges in India but now it is not practiced in many colleges in India.
- We believe we have been successful in reducing it by 75% in the past 7 years. We do not have data to substantiate our claim, but we know that we have been successful to a great extent and we have not given up yet. We are left with pockets all over the country, particularly in West Bengal, Bihar, UP, Odisha & MP.
- The Anti Ragging affidavit is not our idea as it was always part of the UGC guidelines but nobody followed it. We have just made it into an ON LINE affair. By making it online there are many advantages. First, it is easy to fill, is free & one does not need to find a lawyer etc. to notarize it, but the main advantage is that when students file an affidavit on line we can get their contact details & we can create a data base of all students across the nation.
- We started the ON LINE Affidavit campaign only 2 years ago, so far we have collected 35 Lakhs Affidavits in line and we still have a long way to go. Hopefully next academic year we will launch a major campaign for ON LINE Affidavits.
Question: Everyone knows the reason you started Aman Movement but it is seriously remarkable that you did not stop when Aman got justice and you said he will get justice only if ragging is completely banned. Can you give us some details of the problems you faced for the campaign Aman Movement how you managed everything?
- My idea of Justice is not an eye for an eye. I told the Police that it was wrong of them to book the killers of my son under charges of murder because they are themselves victim of circumstances & ignorance. An eye for an eye only makes the whole world blind.
- I started on the Journey to eradicate Ragging in India within a week of the death of Aman. It has been a very long journey since. All I can say that it was not a very easy Journey. For the first 2 years & 6 months, i.e., until 2012 the Government & I were on the opposite sides, arguing all the time. It was a protest after protest. The matter went to the office of the President & the Prime Minister, both houses of the Parliament, Parliamentary Committees, National Human Rights Commission & so on. But since 2012 things have changed. I am now working in close cooperation with the Government. The National Ragging Prevention Program is a Technology driven program. It does not follow the age old practices of Bureaucracy. It is innovative & forward thinking. Therefore, there is always stress. It is not easy to convince Government Officials to change the way they are used to doing things. But we are making progress.
Question: All of us know this, that you have initiated the Aman Movement but very few among us know that you have started 181 Women Helpline & One stop Centers. Please throw a light on this.
- I have not started 181 Women Help Line & Sakhi - One Stop Centers. The Government of India has started these centers. My contribution is that I lobbied with the Union Government & also devised Systems/Software for Sakhi/181 to achieve the vision of the Union Government. The Vision, of course, is that of the Union Minister & her Administration. My contribution to provide Technology to achieve it.
- I got involved in this after the infamous Nirbhaya case and was extremely moved by what I heard on the Television about how Jyoti Singh "“ The Nirbhaya "“ had to suffer. I felt the urge to do something about it. I am not an outdoor type who can sit on Dharnas or Protest on the streets, etc. I am a Technology person. All I could think was to provide a Technology solution to the problem.
- We have developed System/Software for 181 WHL & Sakhi "“ OSC. It is called PRIYA "“ JYOTI, named after Priya Darshini Matoo & Jyoti Singh "“ two young girls who were raped & Murdered in Delhi. We have tested the System/Software in two pilot projects "“ one in Chandigarh & the other in Raipur. The Pilots were successful. The Union Government has advised all State Governments to use the PRIYA JYOTI "“ System/Software for their respective 181 & Sakhi Centers. We are proud of this achievement. We hope to work in this area for several years to come.
Question: I came to know that you have done projects in Water & Environmental sector with leading international agencies like WMO, Unesco, Irish Aid, World Bank, IUCN, & DFID. What all positive and negative factors you are facing while working with these big organizations.
- Before I got involved in the Social Sector 7 years ago I was a Professor of Engineering. My area of work was highly specialized. I was an expert in mathematical modeling for Water & environmental Management. In this sector of work there are not many experts. Therefore, it is not usual for one to work with various International agencies. With Unesco & Irish Aid I set-up a graduate school in Tanzania which was for the whole of English speaking Africa. I worked for several years with these two agencies. With DFID, IUCN & World Bank I worked on short term assignments of water & environmental management.
- The positive aspects are that they pay people like me very well. The negative is that these organizations are very bureaucratic. They move slowly & cautiously. I am not a very cautious kind of a person. I like action. I am intolerant & undiplomatic. That does not go well with these organizations.
Question: We all know that you are a Professor and Hydrologist but we would like to know more about your educational details, your work in Africa center and many more.
- I graduated from Pant Nagar University with a degree in Agricultural Engineering & then with a postgraduate diploma from the University of Roorkee in Hydrology. After that I went to Ireland to pursue my Ph.D. degree. I was offered a teaching job in the same University where completed my Ph.D.
- My university went into a partnership with the Irish Ad & UNESCO to set up a graduate school for Water & Environment in Africa. I was deputed to set it up. It was a challenging assignment but very fulfilling. I was glad that the project was a great success.
- In year 2000 I moved back to India with my family to settle in India. I did not choose to go to work for a University while I was in India. I decided to work in a business that I had helped to start, ten years earlier in 1990. This is the Craft Design Business.
- From 2001 I worked more or less full time in this business. Except that I would still do some consultancy work. In 2009 all that came to an end. Now I work full time for the Aman Satya Kachroo Trust.
Question: You have done your PHD and published so many publications till 2000. Now you are into social services don't you feel like going back to those research works? What is there which is inspiring you to do social activities?
- I continue to be a researcher. I have never left research. My Trust is a Research Foundation that researches into Social Sector programs of the Government of India & proposes solutions for improvement based on research.
- The Ragging Prevention Program is a success because we researched it very well & developed the right kind of combat methodology. If we have not researched it, we would not have been able to think of the right solution. We researched the problems that women in India face after they have survived a crime. We created PRIYA JYOTI. It is a result of extensive research & understanding of core issues.
- We have researched how Courts in India work & we have proposed solutions to improve their efficiency. We have just researched on how Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan is operated. We hope to develop a management system for it. We have researched how Public Sector Undertakings are audited. Now we understand the problems. We have researched how Reservoirs in India are operated & what are the dangers etc.
- A scientist is a part of the Society. He/She is always influenced & inspired by his/her surroundings. Nothing can be improved until it is well researched.
- The secret of success of our Trust has been researched. We make sure that we collect all the data and analyze those data systematically to understand the underlying phenomenon. And once the underlying phenomenon is understood correct solutions follow.
Question: What advice you would like to give the users of Brainbuxa.com for the social work?
Social Work is like any other work. Social Work is a great opportunity to engage with the society that you live it. If you think that you want to do social work to help others, then please don't waste your time. You will fail. If you want to engage in social work to improve yourself Intellectually & Spiritually only then you will be successful. Social work is not Charity. And charity is not a good thing.
If you find the words of Prof. Raj Kachroo motivating and have any queries the comment section is all yours. This type of positive thinking for social work is required in the modern youth and hope these inspiring words will prove to be helping hand for all users.