Since it came to power at the centre and many states since 2014, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has repeatedly attempted to impose its idea of patriotism on students. In the latest move, students of Gujarat schools will now answer roll calls with ‘Jai Hind’ or ‘Jai Bharat’ instead of the current ‘yes sir’ and ‘present sir’, according to a new notification.
The notification, issued by the Directorate of Primary Education and Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board (GSHSEB), lays down that students of Class 1-12 in government, grant-in-aid and self-financed schools will have to respond to the attendance call with ‘Jai Hind’ or ‘Jai Bharat’. The directive came into effect on Tuesday.
The objective of the new practice is to “foster patriotism among students right from childhood”, it said.
As per the notification, the decision was taken by the state Education Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama in a review meeting. The decision, according to officials quoted by The Indian Express, was inspired by Sandeep Joshi, a History teacher at a school in Rajasthan’s Jalore district.
He received the Yashwantrao Kelkar youth award at the ABVP’s national conference for his work in education, which included getting his students to say ‘Jai Hind’ and ‘Jai Bharat’ during roll call.
Chudasama was quoted as saying by The Times of India that when he was a student, it was compulsory for him and his fellow students to answer roll call with ‘Jai Hind’ and ‘Jai Bharat’. The practice, he said, was later discontinued.
The decision sparked a political row with the opposition Congress as well as Patidar leader Hardik Patel slamming the move and asking the BJP government to improve what they said was the “deteriorating quality of education”.
The state Congress unit president Amit Chavda said the new practice “will not change the quality of education” in the government and affiliated schools.
“The BJP government has made several efforts to instil patriotism among school students. Altering a certain practice will not improve the standard of education,” he said.
Hardik Patel said the children and the youth of Gujarat should not be forced to express their patriotism, “as that feeling runs in their blood”.
He said the government should prioritise improving the “significantly deteriorating” quality of education in the state.
Union minister Smriti Irani rejected the Opposition’s criticism and said she would celebrate the country’s prominence by saying ‘Jai Hind’.
Other similar orders
This is not the first time the BJP government has turned to ‘Jai Hind’ as an easy route to nationalism. The previous BJP government in Madhya Pradesh did something similar. According to PTI, the then state government issued an order directing students to respond to roll calls with ‘Jai Hind’. Then school education minister Vijay Shah said the “objective is to foster patriotism”.
The Centre had also asked the Supreme Court in 2017 to make singing of national anthem mandatory in schools, according to India Today. “Patriotism must be inculcated in kids. It cannot be done in adults. So, singing national anthem in schools... must be made compulsory,” then attorney general Mukul Rohatgi was quoted as saying in the report.
Singing of national anthem and hoisting of national flag was also made compulsory in government and private schools of Madhya Pradesh in 2016 under the previous BJP government. Vijay Shah, according to India Today, said such a move would play a significant role in instilling a sense of nationalism among the students.
A trust run by BJP leader Dilip Sanghani in Gujarat’s Amreli had made it mandatory for students seeking admission to its educational institutions to write ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ in their application forms.
The Narendra Modi-led government, in 2016, made it mandatory for central universities across the country to fly the national flag. The proposal was put forward by Union minister Smriti Irani and unanimously endorsed by all the 46 Vice Chancellors.
(With PTI inputs)