January 29, 2017


I was in Japan in 1990 for seven weeks on an invitation from the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS).  JSPS had offered me their prestigious senior fellowship.  I was to lecture on Himalayan wild fruits at different universities and fruit research stations.  My host was Prof Hiroshi Yamamura of the Faculty of Agriculture of the Shimane University at Matsue.  Due to this my point of beginning was also
         At Shimane University, those days were the beginning of new academic session. New fresh students had just joined the university.  As it is known to all, in India the freshly admitted students, called “FIRST YEAR FOOLS” by the seniors, have the harrowing time of their student life.  They are asked to do funny odd things and laughed at. Sometimes they are also manhandled.  The practice is called ragging.  It existed when my father-in-law joined in B.Sc.Ag.  first year at the Lyallpur (now in Pakistan) Agriculture College in 1929.  It was there when I joined the Agriculture College, Ludhiana in 1955.  It still existed when I took voluntary retirement in 1992 from my service at the Horticultural University at Nauni, Solan.  It is existing even now in spite of the fact that government has declared ragging as a legal offense in India.  I do not know how and when it started in our country.  
         So it was a great surprise for me to see how the Japanese students treated or “ragged” their juniors.
         One evening my host Prof. Yamamura informed me that I was to accompany him to a party after the classes were over.  On my asking, he told me that the senior students were giving a welcome party to the newly admitted fresh students that evening and the teachers were also invited.
         We reached in the student cafeteria hall of the Agriculture Faculty biding.  All the students had gathered there.  After some short welcome speeches (which I could not follow as they spoke Japanese) by the senior as well as junior students, the party started.  Beer accompanied with some light snacks was served.  After some time when each of them had gulped one and a half to two bottles, the atmosphere changed.  All of them started enjoying.  There were songs and some dancing too.  Girl students were also in the party.  It was very decent, enjoyable and cordial atmosphere.  The party lasted for a little over two hours then all dispersed. 
         It made me seriously think why we can’t have that sort of “ragging” in our colleges in India.  Shouldn’t we take this lesson from Japan?
         Here are a few pictures I had taken on that day.  The pictures are as good as these were originally transparencies but still they convey the message.

 Myself sitting on left in the party alongwith Prof Hiroshi Yamamura

Other scenes of the same party

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