Frontlist | Keep religion out of education: Romila
Eminent historian Romila Thapar has said that education should not conform to religious concerns in determining its content and structure.
State-run institutions should be free of religious interventions and the contest of education is better left to the professionals in each discipline, she said.
She was participating an online lecture series on ‘India – secularism, democracy and socialism’ organised jointly by Kerala State Higher Education Council (KSHEC), Kerala Council of Historical Research (KCHR) and Chintha Publishers in honour of historian K.N. Panikkar on Sunday.
Prof. Thapar, Professor Emeritus at Jawaharlal Nehru University, also cautioned against allowing religion to legitimise politics and political activity.
“While democracy required political parties to distance themselves from religion, there is often an attempt to construct a new sect while maintaining a facade over this distance. This is done in a way that it allows a religion to be used politically. A clear example of this is Hindutva,” she said.
She felt secularism did not require a denial of religion as a legitimate belief system, but an autonomy of civil institutions from religious control. It also implied the dismissal of existence of majority and minority communities that were identified by religion.
Noted economist Prabhat Patnaik said the ongoing farmers strike has shown that contemporary neo-fascism that could be ruthless and even subvert democracy and secularism for a brief while lacked the wherewithal to acquire the kind of legitimacy that they would have otherwise acquired if they had a credible economic programme.
Prof. Panikkar, in his reply speech, said that idea of secular nationalism has come under severe strain. The Indian society in recent times has been subjected to considerable irrationality and social obscurantism as well as political backwardness. The tradition of modern India seems to be slipping towards medieval irrationality. Modernity is being discarded in preference to notions of belief. Social welfare measures have been discarded in favour of capitalism development and in the process, democratic values have given way to authoritarianism, he lamented
Irfan Habib, Professor Emeritus, Aligarh Muslim University; Rajeev Bhargava, Professor, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies; KSHEC vice-chairman Rajan Gurukkal, KCHR chairman Michael Tharakan also spoke.
Source: The Hindu