Taking the first step has always been the most difficult task. More so, when you stand up against an evil which people feel doesn’t exist and you get criticized at every step moved forward. But to take all the criticism positively in your stride and pursue your vision is something that commands respect from one and all. One such person who stood out against the menace of ragging is Mohit Garg. Just to lay testimony to his strength is the fact that he decided to speak up and act against ragging way back in 2001 when it wasn’t even in the picture. And even after getting ridiculed he did not wander from his course of action. Graduated from IIT Bombay and currently pursuing MBA from IIM Ahmedabad, Mohit is amongst those very few who made alleviation of ragging to large extent possible, by living out his values. Being the co-founder of CURE-Coalition to uproot ragging from education, he has been actively involved with the organization for the past 10 years and is no less than a youth icon. In a personal interaction with Mohit, he disclosed many of the unknown facts about CURE. Here are the excerpts from what he told us.
Q. Tell us something about CURE.
A. CURE is a non-profit organization that intends to alleviate the menace of ragging from colleges and promotes ways of positive interaction between seniors and freshers in Indian Universities. This is also mentioned in our website. It started in 2001 with three members. It was started as eNeRGy (or No Ragging Group). We have come a long way and to see ragging reduced to a fair extent is very satisfying.
Q. What prompted you to go ahead with the idea of an NGO?
A. It started as a college project. We thought that it was an issue about which people knew very little and hence we thought that having a website would be an easy way to solve the problem. Little did we know how wrong we were. It was never meant to be an NGO. In fact, we did not even know what an NGO was when we started!
Q. What were the major problems encountered, and how challenging did it appear to be known as an NGO?
A. Major problems were public denial about the issue. We faced a lot of challenges in even discussing ragging as an issue. Remember that we started out in 2001 when ragging was not even discussed in the media.
Q. How has the journey been from eNeRGy to CURE?
A. Interesting! I believe the gradual transition from eNeRGy to CURE made us grow both in terms of impact as well as learning. We got to interact with more and more people in due course of time.
As eNeRGy, we were immature, we were aspiring to become something and reach out to people and help the same, while, with CURE, we are more directed, and we have clear vision and know what to do next.
Q. What/Who are the funding agencies of CURE?
A. CURE is till date a self-funded organisation.
Q. Where is CURE based? Do you have branches?
A. As of now, CURE is based in Delhi. We don’t have any branches but as we grow in number we intend to open up branches as well.
Q. How many permanent members are there with CURE?
A. Presently, there are only 3 permanent members but there are volunteers who come up every time we have a venture. As an instance, the documentary Anarth-In the name of education was prepared and compiled by our volunteers.
Q. With all its founder members involved in their careers, is CURE able to maintain regularity in its actions?
A. We do keep doing our regular activities each year in spite of our busy schedules. Beyond these, we take up projects as per the time available. We regularly hire interns to help us in our activities.
Q. Is there any specific duration when you hire interns? How long is the internship at CURE? Is CURE open for the youth only?
A. We generally hire during the winter break i.e. December-January. If someone is willing to work during any other time of the year, we are open to discussing with the concerned person and chalk out their course of action. Till now, we have worked with the youth only. But if anyone else also wants to work for CURE, we are surely open to them. We want to curb the menace completely and for that we need people to come up.
Q. What kind of work are the interns supposed to do?
A. The interns get to do technical work. For example: they work for the updation of website, data analysis, marketing our future ventures or ongoing events by means of viral marketing.
They might also get to deal directly with colleges. The work there may involve following-up with colleges we visited earlier, organizing seminars and workshops in colleges. As from the feedback that we have got, an internship at CURE is a healthy learning process.
Q. What has been your biggest achievement till date and what makes it so special for the organization?
A. There have been multiple achievements, the work with the Raghavan committee, regular statistics on ragging, documentary and song on ragging, the recent nationwide tour etc. However, every achievement is meaningful only when it helps us change people’s opinions about ragging and/or help someone who is being affected by it.
Q. Having talked about Success stories, we would also like to know about the failures you faced, or any areas you intend to improve upon?
A. One failure which still persists is that we haven’t been able to provide a clear picture of how serious a disease ragging is. People, even principals of colleges either deny existence of ragging or believe ragging is good for interaction between seniors and juniors.
As for the improvement thing, we need to be a bit more regular in terms of work we do. As of now, we organize an event once in 2-3 months; we would like the frequency of that go up.
Q. Your website says you interact with the victims of ragging. How do you provide counseling to students? Do you also hire counselors?
A. Almost everyone around you is a victim of ragging. Students do approach us for talking about their situation. We speak to them and take up their cases through various channels in the media, government and directly approaching the college etc. If we feel that student requires professional counseling, we refer them to counselors. We don’t hire counselors as such.
Q. With most of the colleges having an Anti-Ragging Unit, what makes you believe an NGO could better serve the purpose, or Why do you believe CURE can help in a better way?
A. While there are such units in colleges, our experience shows that most of them do not function at all. There is a big need to train members of these units in handling ragging cases and formulating policies which help positive interaction among students instead of the negatives which ragging brings with it.
Please understand that CURE is not an alternate to anti-ragging units in college. However, we see a great need to work with these units to make campuses ragging free.
Q. Finally, how do you see CURE in the future, where do you see it going?
A. We have recently begun approaching colleges directly. One of our co-founders Harsh travelled 12,000 kms across the country last month interacting with thousands of students in around 30 colleges. So, you will see CURE reach out to more and more students, teachers and colleges directly in the future.
With such a good cause and so noble intent, we wish that CURE succeeds in alleviating ragging from the root.
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