These days, it really does not matter if children are learning in schools or not. What matters more is whether they are yoga and patriotism compliant.
Let me explain: According to a report in HT, Class 10 students of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), which reports to the Government of India, will be given grades for practising yoga or showing patriotism.
In a notification issued earlier this week, the CBSE stated that the students would be assessed on a five-point grading scale for co-scholastic activities such as yoga, martial arts, sports and National Cadet Corps among others. Students can opt for any of these under health and physical education category.
“Students should be provided opportunities to get professionally trained in the areas of their interest. Indigenous sports, yoga and NCC must be encouraged in the schools to create a sense of physical fitness, discipline, sportsmanship, patriotism, self-sacrifice and health care,” reads the notification.
There is nothing wrong per se in introducing yoga in schools since its benefits are known. But forcing it down the throats of students is unfair and is designed to make many uncomfortable.
In the final count, hopefully, all sports made available to students will be graded equally in the final scorecard. The Board will do well to remember that a Supreme Court bench last year observed that no one can be forced to do yoga.
So what about showing patriotism? The very demand for ‘showing patriotism’ makes me cringe. Is there any parameter of displaying your love for the country?
The Board/government will do well to remember how an (western, I am afraid) author described a patriot: The person who can holler the loudest without knowing what he is hollering about.
In fact, it is the CBSE that must prove its patriotism by ensuring its stated objectives are met: “To define appropriate approaches of academic activities to provide stress free, child centred and holistic education to all children without compromising on quality” and “to adapt and innovate methods to achieve academic excellence in conformity with psychological, pedagogical and social principles.
For the record, the prime focus of the board as given in its website is: Innovations in teaching-learning methodologies by devising students friendly and students centered paradigms; Reforms in examinations and evaluation practices; Skill learning by adding job-oriented and job-linked inputs; and regularly updating the pedagogical skills of the teachers and administrators.
The NDA government and the organisations that are report to it are hell bent on teaching yoga because they feel that knowing it is one of the markers of patriotic behaviour. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I, someone who has been keen to learn yoga for some time now, have a suggestion for the government and the Board: There is one thing it can learn from yoga: Flexibility --- of thoughts and ideas.