Indian Schools are now a Fancy Show
Let us say it loud and clear. India under Modi has become so intolerable for a few that every other day a minor issue is escalated to Constitutional proportions. The latest addition to the political lexicon is the hijab controversy.
How come this has become something that threatens a community’s fundamental right?
When you press a balloon on one side, it also creates a bubble on other sides.
Who is to tell that this cannot be an inspiration to every other student? And our classrooms will not soon resemble a fancy show?
Friday will be a chakka jam in the class, with one section, wearing topis and hijabs, another dressed in padre gowns, yet another in headgear, and, of course, this will make saffron shawls inevitable. And horror of horrors, when saffron dares to get out, there has to be fissures in the majority community! Enter blue, pink and what-have-you.
Monday will be full of foreheads smeared with three horizontal lines. Other days will see contrasting vertical lines creasing the other competing foreheads. This will result in a backlash of the vertical one-liners. Girl students will respond with varied sizes of vermilion, bindi and a dash of ash. The millennium generation will scramble their torn jeans and ripped knickers.
There’s no doubt that all this will DEFINITELY promote the students’ fundamental rights. The New York Times might even publish an editorial praising the sagacity of India’s Constitution makers, who had visualized this grand, inspiring vision of a colorful classroom, where just by the look of a student, you can say what India will never be united.
India will thus once again showcase to the world how visibly and vividly diverse we all are. Perhaps, Rahul Gandhi was being a visionary and so bang on, when he declared in Parliament the other day that India was only a union of states and not a nation.
It may not end here. Soon, the teachers may borrow a leaf from their students’ hymnbook and demand that they too have fundamental rights under the Constitution!
Next, a hijab clad teacher may insist that she has the right to teach who she wants — only similarly hijab wearing students. Why not? OK, maybe not, for this is taking the Constitution too far, but we need to first have a class on the Indian Constitution itself!
In these troubled times when every other day it is under threat, we all need to understand clearly the following:
What exactly is said in the Constitution?
What clearly is not said?
What is actually implied in it?
What is not actually implied in it?
Should it be interpreted the same way or in different ways as and when the government changes?
Does it say different things at different times? That is, in different cases, before different courts?
Does it mean different things for different people like a) Judiciary b) Ruling party c) Opposition c) Common man d) People under threat e) People threatening other people. And are all these Constitutionally guaranteed?
As you can see, it’s all very complex. Maybe our makers in their wisdom thought India needs a Constitution that is tailored to each caste, community, religion, region, sect, and so we have ended up with one that speaks for each of us — and therefore for not all of us.
No one is sure where all this hullabaloo over the hijab is going, but you can be sure that it will school our students in how different they are from each other.
It is truly funny that a row over a headscarf is bringing together the biggest and most learned heads in the country together over metaphysical questions, scholarly interpretation of holy texts, Constitutional guarantees, fundamental rights, administrative policies and governance in academic institutions the hierarchical structure in schools, and so on and so forth. In other words, every issue is on the table, except the actual imparting of education to the students!
It’s time to say it loud and clear. It is true people have become intolerable in India under Modi. Time to ask yourself why.