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Karnataka: Religious scripture for competition in schools opposed

July 28, 2022

A group of authors and education rights activists have expressed dissatisfaction against a reminder pertaining to chanting of religious texts by school children as part of the ‘Pratibha Karanji’ programme.

The directorate of Urdu and minority languages schools’ association has sent a reminder to schools on July 25, to conduct a religious texts recitation competition as part of the Pratibha Karanji (a talent hunt) programme. However, among the subjects that students can choose from only includes some chapters of the Bhagavadgeetha and some Surahs of the Islamic scriptures.

This has not gone well with many who feel that students must be given an option to recite religious scriptures of their choice. Else, they have proposed alternative topics that must be chosen for the recitation competition.

The letter has been signed by Prof VP Niranjanaradhya of the NLSUI, writers Prof G Ramakrishna and Vasundara Bhupathi among others.

“Students must instead be encouraged to read those scriptures that uphold constitutional values or read the constitution itself, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), declarations of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) or works of poets and writers who uphold equality. In a country like ours, schools must be a place which upholds oneness devoid of any religious aspects. It should be an abode of humanity,” they have said.

The experts have also said that the idea of organizing the competition must be to recognize children’s efforts towards learning a language or skill or exhibiting their talents and not to propagate religious ideas.

They have also said if it is inevitable, religious scriptures from Jainism, Sikkhism, Buddhism, Parsi, Christianity among others must also be allowed as topics to be chosen from. They have also urged that if religious texts is to be recited, then it must only be done so in Kannada in Kannada schools to allow all students to understand the essence of other religions. 

Also read: Karnataka: BJP calls out previous TRC for minority appeasement

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