March 4, 2024

BENGALURU EXPRESS

Truth Triumphs

Hijab Controversy: Mixing Education and Politics

Guest column: Dr. N. Prabhudev, former vice chancellor, Bengaluru University:Will schools in India now operate on the basis of religion?

Is it time for a Uniform civil Code!

Rights of minorities do not allow them to dilute secular nature of education – Kerala High Court!

Indians generally see high levels of religious freedom in the country. Overwhelming majority of people in all major religious groups, and the overall public, say they are “very free” to practice their religion. Relatively few Indians – including members of minority communities – perceive religious discrimination as widespread. Perceptions of discrimination vary a great deal. Muslims –often report that they, personally, have experienced recent discrimination. Communal violence is an issue of national concern. On balance, Hindus and Muslims tend to see Partition as a “bad thing” for Hindu-Muslim relations.

Imagine how big an explosion there would be in our society if the country’s schools become laboratories of religion.

When I was a student all the children in school came wearing the same uniform. Instead of caste, religion riches, and poverty, this uniform was our identity. All Children are treated equally in schools

Now the question is, does India want to make its schools a religious place? Article 14 of the Constitution mentions that all citizens of India shall be equally protected by the laws of the country. The Indian constitution provides ‘Freedom of Religion’ as a fundamental right guaranteed by articles 25 to 28. Every citizen of India has a right to practice and promote their religion peacefully.

At present, there is no single law in the country that gives any instructions regarding the uniform of children in schools. In government schools, it is decided by the Central and state governments. Whereas in private schools, this decision depends on the management of that school. Today, India needs a uniform law and this will be possible only when our country adopts the Uniform Civil Code.  The country is one and the law should also be one for all religions. Article 44 of the Constitution itself directs that a ‘Uniform Civil Code’ be implemented throughout the country for all religions.  

Public expression of hijab is a very controversial issue. It is, first and foremost, an act of worship among Muslim women. Hijab is an Islamic concept of modesty and privacy, most notably expressed in women’s clothing that covers most of the body. In the United States, wearing hijab clothing is a right guaranteed by the First Amendment—as freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

The issue has been politicised in the religiously polarised climate. They were not wearing the hijab earlier & this problem started only 20 days ago – the minister said! As a mark of protest against allowing Muslim students to wear hijab inside the educational institution, boys have started to wear saffron scarves and raise religious slogans.

Schools are not temples or churches or masjids. They are not places for worship. No one should come to school for practicing their religion. Neither hijab nor saffron shawls, nor tilaks on the head, or any other visible religious symbol should disturb the learning environment!

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