Regardless of the legal result of the fight that 41-year-old English teacher Sanjay Salve ("Pray, what wrong did I do, asks Nashik teacher", September 1, The Hindu) has taken to the courts against imposition of prayers in his school, he needs to be supported for raising an issue of fundamental importance to education and its politics.
That he is facing persecution in a school named after the courageous social revolutionary Savitribai Phule makes it all the more ironic and tragic. As a school teacher, I have often felt utter dismay at the mindless way in which mass prayer songs have been made a part of school assembly. Anybody with a minimum sense of decency will find it wrong to compel anyone to participate in an event against his or her conscience.
What’s more, students are not informed that they have the right not to sing along or exhibit any particular posture during a prayer in whose contents they do not subscribe. Moreover, as rightly argued by the English teacher, students and their families may have atheistic orientation which are not proscribed in this country and by forcing such persons to pray, the authorities are directly attacking their freedom and democracy.
Burari Main Road,
Sant Nagar, Delhi
Irony of freebies
The Samajwadi Party-led government in Uttar Pradesh is distributing laptops and tablets to intermediate and high school toppers respectively, but how will they charge these gadgets without electricity? Without an Internet modem, the laptops and the tablets are no better than a mobile or a typewriter. Most importantly, how will the students operate these gadgets without any training?
Just like these laptops and tablets, the Akhilesh Yadav government is distributing "Berozgari Bhatta" of Rs.1,000 per month to unemployed persons, but doing precious little to get them jobs.
Department of History,
Aligarh Muslim University
The Delhi Government’s decision to extend the retirement age of school teachers to 65 years, just before the Assembly elections, is not in public interest. As it is, a large number of young graduates of various teacher education institutes are struggling to find employment. This move will lead to a drastic reduction in job opportunities for them. It will demoralise the younger generations and discourage them from choosing teaching as a profession. This decision is in line with the government’s failure to fill thousands of vacant posts in government schools.
There are increasing cases of senior citizens being killed by their domestic servants or harassed by their own kith and kin. We need to protect them, if we want a healthy society. Soon going to become a senior citizen, and surrounded by older neighbours, I feel the need for safeguarding the golden period of our lives.
Firstly, we must live in smaller houses, as per our requirement, and not mansions which can become a liability in our old age. Who are we trying to impress? Second, the government should construct houses for senior citizens in secure areas. Such a housing society should have 24-hour security provision and a separate place for domestic staff so that they do not have to stay in the house.
Old people are the soul of our society. Let’s give them dignity and safety.
Col. (retd.) R. D. Singh