The teachings of Hindu scripture Bhagwad Gita will soon be compulsory for young students in Islamic schools of Madhya Pradesh, says the state’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, its latest in a series of decisions criticised as ‘saffronisation of education’.
The MP government’s August 1 order says Urdu textbooks of Class 1 and 2 will include teachings of the Gita – considered one of the holiest of Hindu scriptures chronicling Lord Krishna‘s advice to a dithering prince Arjuna ahead of the epic Mahabharata battle.
The order may snowball into a huge controversy as it clearly applies to Islamic schools, or Madrasas, the only ones to have Urdu textbooks.
“It is unconstitutional,” said Haleem Khan, member of the Centre’s National Monitoring Committee for Minority Education. “If the government does not take back its decision, we will go to the court.”
Another controversial move three years ago to make Surya Namaskar and chants compulsory in government schools was toned down after Muslim bodies moved court.
Last month, the Gita was introduced in ‘Special Hindi’ books of Class 9 – 12 and ‘Special English’ books of class 11 and 12. Since 2011, when the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government’s announcement of the Gita in curriculum sparked protests, the move has been introduced in phases.
“This should not be taken the wrong way – this is not saffronisation,” state Education Minister Archana Chitnis told NDTV. “Teachings from Sikhism, Christianity and other religions are also taught in our schools.”
Religion, added the minister, had nothing to do with the decision. “We have picked up threads from the Gita to instill a sense of duty and responsibility, obedience, love for nature and environment in students.”
The controversial order comes just four months ahead of the state assembly elections.
Opposition parties accuse the state government of trying to give a Hindu twist to school education at a time there are other, more serious concerns like plummeting school results, shortage of teachers and the poor quality of teachers who are hired at a pittance.
The problem with this is simple: Be it Gita or Koran or Bible,these books have NO place in a school. NONE. But in this particular case,the schools in question are “Islamic schools”,which is like opening a brothel in a Church,which also means that Koran is already being taught in these “Islamic schools”. Now,I’m not in favor of such schools in the first place. But in this particular case,and since it’s India,a secular country where large communities of Muslims and Hindus live together,it’s only in their own long-term benefit that they are also taught some Hindu literature along with Islamic literature. This will not only help the students to understand the largest community of India in a much more better way but a lot of biases can also vanish with time. Because Muslim children (of the sub-continent) are often misguided by their elders into buying Hindu hatred at a very early age,they carry this disease in their hearts for the rest of their lives. If they grow up reading Islamic as well as Hindu literature (throw in some Biblical literature too), then why not? And it will only be fair if Hindu/Christian children are also taught some of the literature of their rival religions. I’m not being too optimistic about this,all I’m saying is if you are going to indoctrinate a child with childish ideas like religion in schools,then why just focus on their parent religion? Why not let them learn religions of other people around them? Call me crazy but if this is ever done (esp in countries like India,Pakistan) we just might get rid of at least half of the fanaticism in this world.