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When will corporal punishment be actually banned in India?

A teacher was caught on camera heartlessly slapping and assaulting a student repeatedly in front of his classmates in a video that has emerged from a private college in Telangana. The student tries to ward off the beating but it doesn’t stop. Activists have referenced the video to point at instances of student suicides and the classroom humiliation that has often been the cause. The governments of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are both under immense pressure to act after an alarming numbers of suicides in recent weeks in corporate colleges.

Earlier also a teacher from Andhra Pradesh was caught beating three young visually challenged children. When that video went viral on social network, he gave explanation that he wanted to “discipline the students” and their parents had told him that he must put fear in children so that they study and behave well. In a video that became public recently, the children can be seen screaming and begging to be spared as he delivered blow upon blow. The video was so scary and excruciating to see, god knows how those children took so much pain, and for what?

Earlier, corporal punishment in school was a common practice, which was considered to be an official punishment for misbehaviour by school students, involves striking the student a given number of times in a generally methodical and premeditated ceremony. The punishment is usually administered either across the buttocks or on the hands, with an implement specially kept for the purpose such as a rattan cane, wooden paddle, slipper, leather strap or wooden yardstick. Less commonly, it could also include spanking or smacking the student in a deliberate manner on a specific part of the body with the open hand, especially at the elementary school level. Most of the old school of thoughts even believe in the concept, “the more you cane, more disciplined one can be”. In the recent past many students got killed and scratched due to such types of reprimands.

In 2015, KV Rao, a teacher, who is also visually challenged, was arrested along with the school principal. He runs the Greenfield Residential School in Kakinada, over 650 km far from the state capital Hyderabad. Exposure of this incident where the teacher filmed the video using a cellphone gave some relief to students who were victims of his cruelty. In the video, the teacher is seen grabbing hold of one of the students and banging his head against the floor. Another adult, not clearly visible in the footage, was helping him assault the children, all younger than 10. The National Human Rights Commission has issued a notice to the Andhra Pradesh government after the shocking footage became public. This school was built on government land with the help of donations from some big corporates. The badly bruised boys have been admitted to Government General Hospital in Kakinada, though the district administration failed to appoint trained staff for the school.

Spare the rod, or end up in jail. That’s the latest warning to teachers who resort to corporal punishment. The Ministry of Women and Child Development had issued a new set of guidelines that bans physical punishment of students. First violation of the ban will invite up to one year in jail, or a fine of Rs 50,000 or both. For subsequent violations, imprisonment could be extending to 3 years with an additional fine of Rs 25,000. Heads of schools will be responsible to prevent corporal punishment. Teachers found guilty could be denied promotion, and even increments. A child rights cell was supposed to be set up in all schools where children can lodge a complaint. Apart from this, the then government Congress was also supposed to be working on the final draft of the Prevention of Child Offences Bill where even parents, relatives and neighbours can be punished for hitting children. The draft bill was expected to include not just physical or sexual abuse, but also verbal abuse, molestation and ragging, but so far nothing has been done and that government has changed. Let it be any government, BJP or Congress, these crucial problems are never addressed.

The debate was sparked off by the death of Rouvanjit Rawla in 2010, the 12-year-old who committed suicide, days after being humiliated and caned by the principal of his school, the prestigious La Martiniere School for Boys in Kolkata. Many instances of corporal punishment have surfaced since then, involving another prestigious school in Kolkata, St James. In the same year, nine-year-old girl, who had lost vision in one eye allegedly due to corporal punishment at a private school two years ago, died in Jaipur. Pia Chaudhary, a Class 1 student of Tagore Public School in Jhunjhunu district in Rajasthan was beaten by her teacher for not completing homework. She had sustained injury in one eye which later became critical and the vision in her second eye also got affected. She was operated several times but the vision in one eye had been completely lost. Now the pressure was on her second eye and she had to be hospitalised for several months in Delhi and Jaipur. She was being treated for the injury and the infection but later she died at a hospital. In the same year in yet another case of corporal punishment, a Class 10 student died in Hyderabad after he was made to do sit-ups as punishment in the school. A case was filed against two teachers of the private school. 15-year-old Mohammed Ismail Hussein was asked to do 100 sit-ups by teachers Mobina Begum and Wahid on September 3, after he was found quarrelling with another student on the school premises of Royal Embassy High School at Madannapet area. After being forced to do sit-ups by the two teachers, the child developed fever and died while undergoing treatment, but both the teachers were granted bail thereafter. No one knows the present scenario of the school and those teachers.

There are many children who are victims of corporal punishments, hundreds suffer and few grab attention. Children die due to cruelty of parents, teachers or tuition masters. Beating a child to create deterrence is not accepted. The world is progressing so the studies, children are adopting to the modern life style and high-tech educational methods, then why cause cruelty to them? The big question remain unanswered, “when will it stop and who will stop it?”, how many students has to lay their lives due to such cruelty?

(Any suggestions, comments or dispute with regards to this article send us on [email protected])

Dr Vaidehi Taman
Dr Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond The News (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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