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Why teach only Gita in schools: Madhya Pradesh minorities
Wednesday, March 10, 2010 05:25:04 PM,Sanjay Sharma, IANS
Bhopal: Minorities in Madhya Pradesh have criticised plans to introduce the Bhagvad Gita in state-run schools, saying the scriptures of other religions should also be part of the syllabus, even as a section of Muslim leaders sees nothing wrong with it.
The Catholic Church in Madhya Pradesh has said the government should, if it has to, teach the scriptures of all religions and not just the Hindu scriptures.
"We are not against introducing lessons from religious scriptures in schools. But all religions in the country should get equal representation," Bhopal's Archbishop Leo Cornelio told IANS.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had declared last week that his government was contemplating introducing the Gita in the school curriculum as "its study is necessary for moral education".
"The Bhagvad Gita is a treasure of knowledge. Children should be imparted the knowledge of the Gita and there should be no politics over it," Chouhan said.
But Cornelia said the move favouring just one religious text was against India's secular character which respects all religions equally.
The archbishop said the church supports the idea of having lessons from scriptures as they will help inculcate values in students, but the problem is "ever since the BJP government came to power in the state in December 2003, it has made efforts to promote the Hindu religion alone".
Madhya Pradesh Catholic Churches' spokesman Father Anand Muttangal said: "We welcome the proposal of the government to include the religious scripture in the educational syllabus. We too have been asking the government to include religious education as part of the curriculum so that children will know about religions when they complete studies, but the thing is that here too it is selective.
"Plans to introduce only a Hindu religious book in the school curriculum are to be seen as an attempt to incite communal feelings in people. We would say the government must introduce all religious scriptures into the educational system in the larger interest of society," he added.
Muslims are divided over the move.
"It is wrong to introduce the religious book of one community in the school curriculum," All India Muslim Teohar Committee Ausaf Shahmeeri Khurram told IANS.
"If the government has any such plans, it should include the scriptures of all communities and sects," he said.
But Muslim leaders like state Haj Committee chairman Salim Qureshi and Madhya Pradesh Minorities Committee's former chief Anwar Mohammad Khan see nothing wrong in it.
"The Gita is a part of our tradition and culture and there is nothing wrong in studying it. Bringing fundamentalism in anything and everything is not correct," said Qureshi.
He said the Gita is an instrument of knowledge and therefore there is nothing wrong in introducing it in schools. "Why should we see everything from a communal angle?" he asked.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government here had earlier faced opposition from the minorities over making "Surya Namaskar" (sun salutation) and yoga mandatory in its schools. It has also been at loggerheads with the minority communities over the singing of the national song "Vande Mataram".
Sanjay Sharma can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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