Bhopal: The Madhya Pradesh government has made it mandatory for all school students in the state to respond to their roll call by saying “Jai Hind”.
The order, issued on Tuesday (May 15), according to the Times of India, stated that “this is the decision taken by state government to instil patriotism among students”.
The directive would be enforced in 1.22 lakh government schools when the new academic session begins. Its implementation is optional for private schools and an advisory would be issued regarding the same, said Madhya Pradesh education minister Vijay Shah.
The schools are currently closed for summer break.
Shah, in September last year, had instructed government schools in Satna district to start this practice as an experiment from October 1 onwards. He announced that the “patriotic” slogan would be eventually introduced in all schools depending on its success and subject to chief minister’s permission. Shah went on to say that “Jai Hind is acceptable to students of all religions so I have decided to introduce it. We just want to keep our culture alive which our young generation is forgetting,” reported by Hindustan Times.
The education minister had added at the time that the government would de-recognise schools that fail to comply with the directive.
In November, while addressing the NCC cadets at Shaurya Smarak in Bhopal, Shah had said that the current practice of marking attendance by saying “yes sir, yes madam” does not inculcate patriotism and thus, should be replaced with “Jai Hind”, according to an Indian Express report.
The move by the Madhya Pradesh government has been criticised by the main opposition party Congress. Congress leader K.K. Mishra said, “We cannot force patriotism. There is no need to make it compulsory, the government should first think about the quality of education, lack of teachers in government schools.”
Educationists have been drawing attention to the systemic drawbacks and loopholes plaguing the overall school system. The state of Madhya Pradesh, too, doesn’t fare well in the education department. A study by Child Rights and You(CRY) reported that even six years after the implementation of Right to Education Act, 2009, 94% schools in Madhya Pradesh had “significant infrastructural gaps”.
BJP spokesperson Rahul Kothari, however, defended the decision and said it should be looked at in a positive manner. “It’s a great initiative for instilling patriotism among students. We should look upon this in a positive manner,” he said.
In September, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and his government had already directed the schools and madrasas to sing the national anthem and hoist the tricolour daily. Official sources suggest that the latest order has also been taken after taking permission from Chouhan on Monday.
In the past, many such instances of forced patriotism have run into controversy. In 2016, the Tribune reported that a BJP leader and former MLA from Amreli Dilip Sanghani, who heads Shree Patel Vidhyarthi Ashram Trust, made it compulsory for students seeking admission to the educational institutions run by the trust – including two high schools, a primary school and a college, to write ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai‘ in their application forms.
Sanghani had then argued, “Time has come to rejuvenate the spirit of patriotism among students, especially after anti-India slogans were (allegedly) shouted on the Jawahralal Nehru University campus in Delhi. Opposing the chanting of ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai‘ is like opposing the country.”
“We have decided that admission will be given to only those who write the slogan on admission form. Just as it is not compulsory to write it, it is also not mandatory for those who don’t write it to enrol in our institutes. Those who want to take admission, must show their commitment towards the country,” he added.
Yoga guru Ramdev, in the same month, said that he would have “beheaded” lakhs of people for refusing to say ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’, were it not for the law of the land. He was later booked under section 295 A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings) of the IPC, as per the Indian Express report.
In July 2017, The Hindu reported how the Madras high court had passed an order making it mandatory for private and government schools in the southern state to make sure that their students sing ‘Vande Mataram” at least twice a week, preferably on Monday and Friday. The order added that the song could also be played in other private and government institutions at least once a month. However, the order also specified that no person or organisation should be compelled to sing or play the song if they have difficulty. But valid reasons needed to be provided, the order added.