“India is my country, all Indians are my brothers and sisters…” A national pledge, seems to remain inked only on book binds. A video of group of college students standing in front of the college, wearing saffron scarves on their shoulders went viral. The students belonging to a particular community stood saying that they will remove the colour-coded ideology-indicating shawl only if the Muslim girls from the college removed their headscarves.
School and colleges were once upon a time called ‘Jnana Degula’ in Kannada, meaning Temple of Knowledge/Enlightenment. But today, such centres too have become centres for communalism. Personally speaking, I have always believed that schools and colleges are the only existing centres for abolition of caste system, religious intolerance and thus upholding Indian diversity. Somewhere, a Muslim student in the class will be curious to know about Bindi, hand thread and other practices of his/her Hindu friend. A child belonging to SC/ST community might share the same bench with a Brahmin child, a Christian student will be keen on trying the headscarf which her Muslim friend follows. This is the uniqueness of Indian diversity. The symbol of religious acceptance in spite of plurality.
However, today thestudents who share a same college or a same bench are spitting out fire of rage. The rage of communalism. The ones who should have been sharing their food from the same tiffin, are out on streets challenging the management against their own peer group’s religious practice. There indeed is a need to discriminate between a head scarf which is an essential religious practice and a saffron-coloured shawl, an indicator of ideology.
Article 25 to 28 of Indian Constitution guarantees the Freedom of Religion. And so a simple piece of cloth used by an individual in order to cover one’s head like any other clothing on the body should not be a matter of irritation to any. At least now schools and colleges should wake up to understand the sensitivity of matter. There is a need to enlighten students with constitutional principles and eradicate the infused communalism and protect our future generation from becoming the leaders of communal ideologies.