UCA News

India

Indian state imposing patriotic slogan worries church leaders

National pride should develop naturally and not be forced, say critics

Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Indian state imposing patriotic slogan worries church leaders

Indian school children in Mumbai in this file photo taken in 2015. Government school students in India's Madhya Pradesh state need to say a patriotic slogan during attendance roll calls. (Photo by Punit Paranjpe/AFP)

Share this article :
A directive for government school students in India's Madhya Pradesh state to respond with a patriotic slogan called 'Jai Hind' (hail India) during attendance roll calls has been criticized by Catholic Church leaders.

On May 15 the education department said the government had decided to make the slogan compulsory for government schools from the start of a new academic year in June. 

"This is a misplaced idea of patriotism," said Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal, head of the bishops' council in the region.

The commonly used slogan Jai Hind emerged during India's independence struggle and continues to be raised at the end of national anthem. However, Hind is a shortened form of Hindustan (land of Hindus) that excludes India's religious minorities such as Christians and Muslims. 

The central Indian state's government, run by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has exempted privately managed schools such as Church schools from the new practice.  

But an official source seeking anonymity told ucanews.com the government exempted private schools fearing a backlash as state elections are due in December this year. The nine Catholic dioceses in the state run some 500 schools.

With all schools already saluting the national flag and singing the national anthem daily in schools, the prelate dismissed the Jai Hind slogan requirement.

"It is ridiculous," Archbishop Leo said. He added that such demands were meant to push a skewed sense of nationhood, which negated the idea of an inclusive society that accepted people of all religions and cultures.

Leaders of religious minorities such as Archbishop Leo have been complaining more widely over the BJP's pro-Hindu dominance policies and stances.

Archbishop Leo said government schools have students from various religious communities and that such slogans, instead of promoting patriotism, would create divisions by implanting notions of religious discrimination in young minds.

Education minister Vijay Shah in September outlined the intention for the Jai Hind slogan to be adopted in schools.

Father Babu Joseph, former spokesperson of the national bishops' conference now based in Madhya Pradesh, said patriotism — a sense of pride in being a citizen of nation — should develop naturally rather than being forced on people.  

"But in this case, a particular ideology is promoted in the name of patriotism," he said.

"It is not desirable, especially in schools."

Support UCA News...

As 2020 unfolds, we are asking readers like you to help us keep Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) free so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world at no cost.

That has been our policy for years and was made possible by donations from European Catholic funding agencies. However, like the Church in Europe, these agencies are in decline and the immediate and urgent claims on their funds for humanitarian emergencies in Africa and parts of Asia mean there is much less to distribute than there was even a decade ago.

Forty years ago, when UCA News was founded, Asia was a very different place - many poor and underdeveloped countries with large populations to feed, political instability and economies too often poised on the edge of collapse. Today, Asia is the economic engine room of the world and funding agencies quite rightly look to UCA News to do more to fund itself.

UCA News has a unique product developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes. Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to - South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.

And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters that cover 22 countries and experienced native English-speaking editors to render stories that are informative, informed and perceptive.

We report from the ground where other news services simply can't or won't go. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don't have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.

With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.

Click here to find out the ways you can support UCA News. You can make a difference for as little as US$5...
UCAN Donate
YOUR DAILY
NEWSLETTER
Thank you. You are now signed up to our Daily Full Bulletin newsletter
 
Support UCA News

William J. Grimm, MM

Publisher

Union of Catholic Asian News

"As Pope Francis has said, we live not so much in an era of change as in a change of era. That is especially true in Asia and for the churches of Asia. UCA News is the dedicated, Asia-wide news and information service for the Church in Asia and we need your help to maintain the service."