Thursday, December 08, 2005

Religious Coercion

DNA reports that a Pakistani Christian student sues a premier institution, King Edward Medical College, accusing them of discriminating againt non-Muslim students. She challenges the whole concept of awarding a student extra internal marks just because he or she has the Quran memorized. I wholly agree, and sincerely pray that she wins her lawsuit. Click here to read the whole article.

I have always been of the firm belief that religion is something that you practise in private, irrespective of what religion you belong to, or follow. IMHO, the whole concept of collective worship is highly overrated; more often than not, its devotion born of fear. Even worse, many a time it is devotion born of a desperate need to impress your contemporaries. But then, this is subjective - I am entitled to my opinions, and you to yours. What gets my goat is religious coercion of the form described above. If giving more internal marks is not an incentive for a student to get all 'holy', I don't know what is. This is the worst form of education, for it breeds hypocrisy. Schools/colleges have no business dictating religion; that's what parents are for.

Much to my dismay, such 'religious' institutes are springing up with alacrity all over India as well. We now have Hindu colleges preaching 'holistic' education (whatever that means), Muslim institutes named after Hajis and hellfire-threatening Christian institutes trying to attract more to their flock. Whatever be the religious inclination, all these institutions have roughly the same POAs - prevent sleep in the morning by blasting those darned devotional songs, conduct prayer meetings at the drop of a hat
, and of course, assume the responsibilty of protecting 'Indian Culture' by preventing guys from talking to girls, enforcing pinned dupattas etc. Of course, these religious institutes have an unwritten policy of 'rejecting' students of other faith, irrespective of their academics.

My apologies to all those fine institutes who happen to be named after a religious figure of some kind - it is not you who I am talking about. I did my schooling at a Don Bosco, and was never forced into doing anything I did not want to do -I still remain fond of those memories. I wish I could say the same of every other educational institution I have been to.

No comments: