And those who don’t respect the Constitution?

After his suggestion that the Bhagwad Gita be taught for an hour every day to school children was resisted, Karnataka’s minister for primary and secondary education, Vishveshwar Hegde Kageri, has been quoted as saying that if “someone does not respect the Gita, they have no place in India. They should leave the country and settle abroad.”

Editorial in the Indian Express:

“Apart from ignoring the constitutional injunction against introducing religious material in public schools, Kageri has displayed the worst instincts and rhetoric of the right, publicly stating that those who disregard a certain Hindu religious text do not belong in India….

“It is the politics represented by people like Kageri that remind us how important it is that our state schools remain faith-neutral…. [His] words are a reminder of the still-real danger of those who would shape education to their own ends, and they undermine one of India’s founding values. If anyone has a problem fitting into this plural and secular nation, it is people like him.”

Editorial in The Times of India:

“Whether Kageri or the state BJP likes it or not, there is a constitutional issue around religious preaching by State schools. Article 28(1) of the Constitution forbids religious instruction of any kind in educational institutions wholly funded by the State….

“Kageri’s approach also sums up another common ailment of Indian education ministers. They still do not see their job as expanding the boundaries of education and promoting useful skills that will empower the young, but as prescribing what should be taught, using schools and colleges to disburse patronage, policing the boundaries of Indian culture, and turning education into a tool of political propaganda.”

Cartoon: courtesy Prasad Radhakrishnan/ Mail Today