By the Editor: Siddharth Sehgal
We tend to look for religion in everything we do, what we eat, where we pray, and what we eat; everything is looked at from a religious lens. What is supposed to be a personal matter has become part of public debate. The Hijab controversy that originated in Udupi could have been resolved at the local level but given our tendency to politicize everything, it got blown out of proportion. Given the elections in UP and other states, this issue seems to be getting polarized by the day.
The real discussion should be the state of our schools and education system. Yet, we find distractions to occupy ourselves. Though there are multiple aspects of this controversy. Regarding the Hijab or veil, the easiest solution would be to have a candid discussion between parents, students, and school authorities. They all should sit together and hear each other’s points. Though, I would like to state that within reasonable bounds, we can create space for each other’s cultural beliefs. A head covering should not be too great an inconvenience that school cannot accommodate. In all practicality, kicking female students out of classes is just not done. No rule or ordinance of any institution can violate basic fundamental rights that are provided by our constitution to all Indian citizens. Educational institutions cannot deny education to a student just on the basis of clothing.
Yet there is a different facet to this whole argument, if Muslim female students are allowed to wear headscarves then Hindu students may want to assert their religious identity as well. This will cause a rift sooner or later which is not the desired impression to be imprinted on young minds. After all, schools are the place where we try to build a harmonious society for the future. That is why students, teachers, and parents from both communities should come together to discuss and reach a common ground.
Given the election season, this controversy may not die anytime soon but people should think rationally otherwise every trivial part of day-to-day life will become a political slugfest.