School education minister Archna Chitnis was on Saturday very emphatic in her reply to a query from the Hindustan Times if the government’s decision to include Bhagwat Gita teachings in Urdu textbooks for Class 1 and 2 as mentioned in the August 1 notification would apply on madarsas in the state also.
The minister said the decision was meant only for the school education department’s Urdu medium schools, not for madarsas.
However, certain activists working in the field of education had expressed their apprehensions that the government would implement its decision in madarsas too.
Interestingly, what came to be known later that the textbooks containing chapters on Gita teachings had already been dispatched to the madarsas at least two months before the notification dated August 1, 2013 was issued.
There are about 7,000 madarsas in the state.
Apparently, the school education department dispatched the books to madarsas in anticipation of the notification to be issued in the coming months.
It was only after the Hindustan Times story and subsequent protests from the minority communities and the Opposition that the top brass in the state government took notice of the chapters on incidents ‘enumerated in Bhagwat Gita’ had been included in the books for the madarsas also.
If Madhya Pradesh Madarsa Board chairman Rashid Khan is to be believed even chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan was not aware of Gita teachings being included as a chapter in the Urdu textbooks.
“CM saheb was not aware. I showed him the textbooks and a copy of the notification in question on Monday. On this, he said he would look into it and perhaps had a talk with authorities too in this regard,” Khan told HT.
According to sources, when the Shahar Qazi Bhopal met the CM on Tuesday, the latter told the former that he was not aware of either notification or inclusion of Gita teachings in Madarsa textbooks.
According to MP Lok Sangharsh Sajha Manch secretary Javed Anees, there were some very sensitive aspects related to these chapters in Urdu textbooks.
For one, in the lesson “Paraspara: Bhavyanta: Shreyah”, which is about blind and disabled persons, a sketch of temple is shown in the background. Some persons are seen wearing sacred threads.
Anees said if the government was really broadminded and intended to send a message of harmony in the society as it claimed, then it should have also added sketches of mosque, church and members of every community in the background.
But the fact was what the government claimed was hardly reflected in its act.
Anees said withdrawal of books from madarsas was not a solution.
In fact, there should be no education on religion at all.
There could be moral education in schools even without mentioning the name of Gita, Quran or Bible.
The association, he added, would continue to demand and run its campaign to withdraw all the chapters based on religions from all the classes.
When contacted the school education minister Archna Chitnis said she had replied to all the queries but would prefer to address them once she reached Bhopal.
The state government spokesperson parliamentary affairs minister Narottam Mishra said he was not aware of these technical issues