Pseudo-Secularism

Hindu dharma is implicitly at odds with monotheistic intolerance. What is happening in India is a new historical awakening... Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs, may not understand what is going on. But every other Indian knows precisely what is happening: deep down he knows that a larger response is emerging even if at times this response appears in his eyes to be threatening.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Join madrasa, why sit for tough CBSE board exam?

The UPA’s weird ideas on affirmative action to appease its vote bank have taken yet another absurd leap. The latest is to make madrasa certificates equivalent to CBSE.

According to news reports, the Union Human Resources Ministry is all set to grant madrasa certificates equal status with the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) so that it would help in mainstreaming the students coming out of these Islamic religious schools. It is not clear if the government is also planning either to downgrade the CBSE curricula or upgrade the madrasa menu to make the two certificates academically compatible. But there is no doubt that it is a crude joke on millions of hard-working students who burn their mid-night oil to clear the tough Board examinations.

The unkindest cut is that the plan is to implement the disastrous move with retrospective effect. It is widely believed that the madrasas are the nurseries of terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism in India. If mainstreaming is the real concern, better schools should have been established in Muslim localities and persuaded the Muslim children to get enrolled in them. Already the government has introduced a series of incentives to get the minorities more literate and enhance their competence to compete in the higher levels. Many of these incentives are denied to children of the majority community though they are equally under privileged both educationally and economically. Perhaps it is a crime under the UPA to be born in the majority community and to be poor. The pampering of the minorities, in a manner as to discriminate citizens on religious lines against the tenets of the Constitution or affirmative social action has no legal sanction. But it has been proved to be politically rewarding for the ruling clique.

Though the centre has been distributing hundreds of crores every year to modernise the madrasas they have refused to either modernise or streamline. They have also been resisting any attempt to persuade them to adopt some portions of the modern syllabi in their curriculum. The maulavis have often issued fatwas against any attempt at modernisation in these institutions though they have no qualms in receiving huge grants from the tax-payers’ money. As a result, these madrasas have become islands of superstition, fundamentalism and divisive activities misleading the children in their formative years to resist all modern and scientific outlook and integration with the rest of the society. Again if mainstreaming was a concern, the centre should have asked the madrasas either to close down or limit themselves to religious teaching making any certificates issued by these fanatic institutions invalid. But the UPA seems to have other ideas. It perhaps wants to encourage the mushrooming of madrasas across the length and breadth of the country and make them breeding grounds for social disaffection.

Already at least three universities — Jamia Hamdard, Jamia Millia and Aligarh University—have recognised certificates from madrasas for admission to post-graduate courses. The HRD Ministry has insisted that the UGC must enforce the criteria on other universities as well. But some universities are resisting the move. Finally, the UGC has set up a committee to look into the matter. On government records there are half a million madrasas active across the country. Unofficially, it is estimated that there are at least a million madrasas and their number is increasing every year with liberal funding from Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia.

The UPA claims that its anxiety is the result of the Prime Minister’s 15-point programme for minorities and that it is one of the key recommendations of Sachar Committee. Taking the Sachar cover the government is already making generous contribution to minority education. And they are highly discriminatory to Hindu students. For instance, Hindu students get education loans at a rate of 13 per cent whereas the minority students get it for just three per cent interest from National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation under Finance Ministry. To start a business a Hindu youth will get a loan at 15 to 18 per cent from banks after arranging 15 per cent margin money. But a Muslim youth has to arrange only five per cent of project cost from his private sources and will get the rest of 35 per cent of the loan from NMDFC at three per cent interest and the balance 60 per cent from commercial bank at two per cent. To ensure Muslim students admission in the top institutions like IIMs, IITs and AIIMS the entire fees is being given by the government. To prepare them for this and other public service tests the entire coaching fee is given by the government. The students are also given a pocket money from the tax-payers’ kitty. The UPA has also announced lakhs of scholarships only for minority students. All these are denied to Hindu students. Now, the discrimination is total, with the centre making madrasa certificate equivalent with the hard-earned CBSE certificate. Should all the Hindu students leave government and public schools and join madrasas for a simple and cost-effective qualifying certificate? Or is the UPA determined to destroy the higher education in the country?

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