Friday, May 21, 2010

Missionary School Principals Vow To Fight Sena-BJP Corporators Hindutva Proposal Tooth & Nail

Mumbai: Principals of missionary-run schools said they will fight tooth and nail to ensure that the saffron combines Hindutva ideology is not implemented in their classrooms.The Archdiocesan Board of Education (ABE) runs 150 missionary schools in and around Mumbai,most of which are government aided.We are a minority and if need be,we will go to court to fight for our rights, said Father Gregory Lobo,general secretary,ABE.In what legal experts call an unconstitutional move,corporators of the Sena-BJP alliance,which rules the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC),proposed on Tuesday that their ideology be promoted in missionary-run schools.But their move to take aided schools to task for promoting Christianity and avoiding Hindu practices is illogical,say irate principals.On Diwali,we are all Hindus;on Christmas,we are all Christians;and on Eid,we are all Muslims.This is the culture of our school, said Father Saturnino Almeida,principal of Fr Agnel School in Vashi.Many educational heads said the corporators proposal ignores the fact that their schools follow and promote a cultural ethos that is purely Indian where no one religion is given importance.In the army,a soldier does not wear a costume that boasts his religion,but follows the rules and dons his uniform.Similarly,students go to schools for a specific reason.Rules are laid down to ensure that there is discipline,not to promote any one faith among students, said Fr Jude Fernandes,principal of St Stanislaus High School,Bandra.He added that like in every other school,his institution too follows all festivals.The idea,he said,is to ensure that students are acquainted with and learn to respect all regions and faiths practised in India.There appears to be a need to make a distinction between Indian culture and Hindutva ideology.Just because we follow a particular faith,it doesnt make us less the Indian.We are Indians first and then Catholics, said Fr Francis Swamy,principal of Holy Christ School in Andheri (E).On the issue of promoting traditional Indian accessories such as bangles and bindis,Fr Swami said: We need to differentiate between respecting culture in its true sense as compared to a superficial level. The proposal has done little to inspire students,teachers and principals,especially when there are more pressing issues like improving quality of education which are not being addressed.Our aim is to follow a code of conduct,a discipline,and not to disown any faith, added Swamy.

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