New India, New Leaders

| Updated: February 16, 2022 7:52 pm

In a democracy, it is definitely the right of the elected wing to choose their leaders. Surat Municipal Corporation in Gujarat has taken the initiative. Enough of Gandhi, Nehru and even Kalam in civic school classrooms. All the 217 odd Surat Municipal Corporation schools, including the 28 Urdu ones will have to keep a picture of Bharat Maata and of course Prime Minister Modi.

The Surat Municipal Corporation runs about 217 civic schools including 28 Urdu schools. Till now, six personalities adorned the school walls. Gandhiji, Ambedkar, Nehru, Sardar Patel Kalam and S Radhakrishnan. It was up to the schools to buy and put up the pictures.

Now to bring in uniformity, Surat Municipal Corporation has issued tenders for the photographs. Instead of the earlier flexibility option, schools will now have to adhere to a system. The corporation will give them a set of five photographs that they will have to put up in the schools.

A BJP councillor told Vibes of India (VO!) this is a wonderful decision. “Till now, several schools were reluctant to put up a picture of Bharat Maata. Now, there is no escaping. Gandhiji and Nehru are not known by any kid. The new generation should be given photographs they can identify and idolise. I am very happy that now Gandhi and Nehru have been replaced by a photo of Bharat Maata and Prime Minister Modi”.  Mr Patel insisted that Bharat Maata should be shown as wearing a saffron saree. He did not want to reveal his name because he said he is a businessman who also has non-Hindu clients.

Even Abirndranth Tagore’s painting Bharat Mata that he did in 1905 reveals Bharat Mata wearing saffron colour so the pseudo secularists should not complain, he added.

Aslam Cyclewala, a minority leader from Surat told VO!, “this is Sangh’s agenda. And they use Government money for all this”. Interestingly, Surat Municipal Corporation has 120 seats but not a single Congress candidate was elected in the last elections held about a year ago.

Aslam Cyclewala

The leader of the Opposition in Surat Municipal Education Board Rakesh Hirpara who represents AAP told VO! I have opposed this move tooth and nail. The sole motive of this exercise is to officially bring in saffron to schools.  Kids learn what they see and are taught. This exercise will help kids in forgetting Gandhi, NEhru and Kalam and etch out an image of a saffron clad Bharat Maata.

Rakesh Hirpara

The concept of Bharat Maata does not find place in the COnstitution, he added. “Schools are for studying. Look at the wonderful work we have done with civic schools in Delhi. Our kids have gone to IIT. But here in GUjarat, schools also are used for saffron purposes.

Vibes of India confirmed with the school board of the Surat Municipal corporation and they said schools will not be allowed to put up any other pictures than those sanctioned by the School Board. Chairman Dhanesh Shah said earlier principals would also put up to 25 photographs. Now, only five will be allowed in the principal’s cabin. Also unlike earlier,  schools will not have to shell out money. The School Board shall provide the pictures. Tenders worth over Rs six lacs have already been allocated for the same, he added. In short, Gandhi, Nehru and interestingly Kalam also are out.

Dhanesh Shah

B.R. Ambedkar, Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and Sardar Patel will be retained and shall give company to Bharat Maata and PM Modi.

 Surat Municipal Corporation runs close to 217 schools in the city. Despite there being no clarity on an “official or constitutionally endorsed image” of “Bharat Mata,” the photo to be used is the ubiquitous one seen in Hindi blockbusters, probably clad in saffron robes. 

“Till now, we had the freedom to hang whatever pictures we wanted. This is terrible that Gandhi or Kalam will not find any space in schools. I belong to BJP but I think it is unfair on our part to poison school kid minds by erasing memories of Gandhi, Nehru and Kalam. I did informally speak to some other school owner but he rightly advised me to shut up for there could be negative consequences, a Hindu headmaster of a school told VO!

Dhanesh Shah, chairman of the Municipal School Board (MSB), moved the proposal to place the five photo frames at the offices of principals of all municipal schools in the city. The board has approved to set aside Rs 6 lakh for placing orders for photo frames to be hung at the schools. 

The dilemma, however, remains what do the schools do with the already existing images. The civic body runs schools that employ various mediums of instruction: Gujarati, Urdu, Marathi, Hindi and Telugu. These schools want to put up pictures of their community and cultural icons. The new rule does not allow them to do so.

 Dhanesh SHah, the school board chief rubbed off all claims and said what is wrong in imbibing patriotism in children? And of course, PM Modi is the most popular leader. And so very inspirational. The kids will learn such good things.

Jameel Sheikh, a parent whose daughter studies in class 7 at Urdu Medium School run by the Corporation in Limbayat area said he was okay with this decision. The pictures are going to be in the principal’s cabin. OUr kids are not going to be asked to bow down to an image in the Assembly or during prayers. 

Asif Saiyed, president of Urdu School Parents Association told VO! from Limbayat said this controversy could have been avoided.

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