It has been almost a year since many students of the Northeastern state of Assam are confined to their houses due to COVID-19 restrictions.
BJP’s decision to topple Madrassa
In December, the state government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) announced the conversion of all government-funded madrassas into regular schools and drop theological components from their syllabi. The state’s education minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma, defended the move, citing the ban on Sanskrit schools, known as tools. As per critics, the government has projected madrassas as “obscurantist and outdated” institutions while Sanskrit tools would be converted into academic institutes researching on “Indian civilization”.
Female children affected
The Muslim community of the state has reported the education of the girl child to be affected tremendously, as many parents prefer girls to get Islamic education along with regular subjects. The female literacy rate is particularly low among Assam’s Muslims, most of whom are poor and sit at the bottom of development indices.
TPT Policy Advocacy & Recommendations
- Democracy should be judged by the parameter of how safe and secure the religious minorities are. Since the partition, India has tussled with the issue of sectarianism. Hindus and Muslims of the country have maintained a waspish relationship. The right-wing religious nationalism dominating politics now has created a hierarchical society making anti-Muslim bias and discrimination common. Muslims today are treated as second-class citizens both de-facto and de-jure. Discrimination against Muslims has now promoted Islamophobia across various countries.
- Muslims stand the second largest populous religion after Hinduism in India. Constitutionally, with the freedom of religion, anybody has the right to conserve their language and religion. The government of India is berating Article 29 of the constitution. Instead, it should have introduced comparative language studies along with theological studies. Whatever the fate of the madrassas in Assam, the legislation seems to be playing its polarization game in a bid to woo the majority population of the state.