Temples of learning or of religious bigotry

Shobha Shukla

It has become fashionable and customary for our political parties fanatics to give a religious colour to one and everything and revel in creating communal disharmony for narrow partisan gains. It is so easy to whip up sentiments of hatred in the name of religion and so very difficult to douse the fire of fanatic violence.

This is what seems to have happened at St. Xavier’s School ( one of the oldest and most reputed school of Jaipur), whose principal Father Jose Jacob rightly suspended seven students of class XII for misconduct and indisciplined behaviour. These students were reportedly caught offering a mock puja to a poster of Lord Ganesha in their classroom, on the occasion of Ganesha Chaturthi, with the entire class joining in the revelry, shouting and laughing. They thus undermined the sanctity of their own religious festival by treating a sacred ceremony in a derogatory manner. It amounted to disrespecting Lord Ganesha, who is venerated by all as Vighna Harta—solver of all problems.

But the blue eyed activists of Bhartiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) thought otherwise. They ransacked the school premises and accused the principal of hurting the religious sentiments of the Hindus. The city president of BJYM was naïve enough to demand the arrest of the principal.

It is common knowledge that our schools and universities have become dens of antisocial activities where learning has taken a backseat. Our political parties and dubious religious outfits are abetting the moral degeneration of the country’s youth.

It is high time for all right minded people to help teach our children some discipline and the real meaning of being religious. They need to learn to respect authority and not cock a snook at them .s Classrooms should be treated with respect and venerated as temples of learning and not vandalized at one’s free will. Students should not be applauded for taking the law in their hands. The parent of one of the students indirectly admitted to the wrong doing of his ward. He thought that instead of suspending the students, the principal should have taken a milder action.

If the behaviour of the BJYM activists is condoned it would send wrong signals to honest and upright principals of schools who are struggling to keep their schools free from the vitiated atmosphere of insolent and wayward behaviour, so rampant amongst our youth today. Communal frenzy needs to be stopped immediately, irrespective of the caste and the creed of perpetrator and the victim.

Shobha Shukla

The author teaches Physics at India's Loreto Convent and has been writing in English and Hindi newspapers since past 30 years. She serves as Editor of Citizen News Service (CNS).

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