Special Urdu textbooks too to have portions included

Students in Madhya Pradesh State Board schools will be introduced to the tenets of the Bhagavadgita from this month. A government order on August 1 called for introduction of a chapter each on incidents in the epic for classes 1 and 2 in the Special English and Special Urdu textbooks. The same has also been ordered in General Hindi textbooks for classes 3 to 8.

Last month, the government included chapters of the Gita in Special Hindi books for classes 9 to 12 and in Special English in classes 11 and 12.

The government also subscribed to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-affiliated Devputra magazine for class 1 and 2 students in State-run schools with Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan funds. The Lokayukta is assessing a complaint on the same.

The Congress reacted strongly to the latest development, which will lead to the Gita being taught in madrasas as they offer Urdu as a subject.

“In 2004, the government allowed public servants to attend RSS shakhas [drills]. Every religion’s texts have good things to say, so why not introduce them all. This selective introduction of the Gita, especially in madrasas, is an attempt to disrupt communal harmony in an election year to divert the focus from corruption. We will take appropriate action after legal consultation,” Congress leader Abhay Dubey told The Hindu.

In 2011, Catholic priest Anand Muttangal petitioned the High Court after the government announced its intention to make the study of the Gita compulsory. The petition was dismissed last year. Muslim groups are expected to oppose this order next week after examining its provisions.

‘Part of our heritage’

School Education Minister Archana Chitnis, who earlier announced that the BJP would make subscription to Devputra compulsory all over India if the party won the Lok Sabha election next year, said that the Gita was part of Indian heritage, and other religious scriptures would also be considered.

“The Gita teaches us not only our responsibility to other human beings but also our duties towards animals, trees and hills. There is nothing communal and we will go ahead with the order in the interest of our children,” she said.