Karnataka suddenly finds itself in the midst of a heated debate around the issue of wearing uniforms in educational institutions. The government speaks as if the biggest problem of the education system is some students not adhering to the uniform norms. The education system is in disarray only because of this. Once a standard uniform is implemented in schools, all problems in government schools will be resolved. Schools that don’t have buildings or teachers will automatically get reenergized, and so goes the government’s arguments. As though the quality of government schools will improve once and for all with uniforms, the government has issued an order making uniforms compulsory. Instead of focusing attention on the pathetic condition of government schools in the past two years or the extent of learning that is taking place in schools during the pandemic and getting reports about these important aspects, the government is trying to inflict fresh wounds on the government school system on the pretext of making uniforms compulsory.

For many parents, it has been a relief that schools have reopened after the prolonged closure on account of the pandemic. The lock-down has played havoc with the livelihoods of several families that are struggling to pay for their children’s education. Some of them cannot even send their wards to school as they need them back at home to work and supplement the meagre family income. Children from poorer families simply could not afford accessing online classes during the pandemic. Studies show that it might require a huge drive to bring back thousands of students who might not even return to the school following the pandemic. The priority of any right-thinking government at this stage is to bring back a semblance of normalcy to the education system. The primary concern should have been to bring students back to school. But, in some government schools, especially in coastal taluks of Udupi and Kundapur, efforts have been on to prevent several girl students from even entering their schools on the pretext of the uniforms. What is more surprising is the tacit support or total silence of the educated segments of society towards this unconstitutional action.

These are not military schools to make the uniform compulsory. The country has millions who are deprived of necessities such as food and health. Government schools exist to cater to these segments and not to organize drill by students in uniform. The government order making the uniform compulsory is like insisting on luxury when the people struggle to make both ends meet. Rights organizations across the world have been watching all these developments in Karnataka. In pre-Independent India, education had been denied to many on the grounds of gender and caste. This discrimination is being re-introduced in Karnataka in another form. It is a slur on the image of Karnataka, which boasts of revolutionary humanists like Basavanna, that girls are denied entry into their schools and are made to study on the road.

What is even more surprising is that in this entire episode the victims have been made the accused and those who planned the plot have been allowed to become arbitrators. This reminds one of what happened during Delhi communal riots when more than 40 Muslims were killed first and then several Muslims were arrested on the charge of conspiracy for rioting. In Dadri, similarly, an elder Muslim man was lynched accusing him of storing beef at home, but the media attention was on finding beef at his house instead of on lynching. About the uniform controversy in Karnataka, the real issue should have been the denial of education to Muslim girls, but the debate is on about whether Muslim girls could go to school wearing scarf or not. The government should have acted against the Principal who shut the school to bar scarf-wearing students from entering the school premises but instead it transferred the director of pre-university education who had stated that there existed no government order which made wearing uniform compulsory. Strangely, thinkers and writers of the land are debating the nuances of religious practices. Feminists are engaged in discourses on the liberation of women.

This is like the infamous  episode in Mahabharata when the elders of the clan were engaged in debating on how scriptures viewed acts of violation when Draupadi was actually being disrobed. What government schools need now are teachers and infrastructure. What the government should do at this stage is to put the education system that has been in a disarray following the repeated waves of the pandemic back on the rails. The government should also act to save Kannada medium schools which are closing one by one as they cannot face competition from English medium schools. The education minister B.C.Nagesh has been thoroughly exposed as he has failed to act on all these fronts. He should realize that he cannot cover up his failures by playing up the question of the uniform.

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Mangaluru: The city police have nabbed five more individuals, in connection with the Boliyar stabbing incident taking the total number of arrests to 11, on Wednesday.

The arrested accused have been identified as Tajjudin, Sarwan, Mubarak, Ashraf and Talhat, all residents of Boliyar.

Previously the police had arrested Boliyar residents, Muhammad Shakir, Abdul Razzaq, Aboobacker Siddique, Sawad, Monu alias Hafeez, Aboobacker.

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Earlier on June 9, during a victory procession organized by the BJP workers in Boliyar, to celebrate Narendra Modi's swearing-in as Prime Minister, some participants allegedly shouted provocative slogans in front of the Boliyar mosque. When an altercation broke out, resulting in three activists Harish, Nandan Kumar, and Kishan Kumar of Dharmanagar being stabbed by a group. The injured were subsequently admitted to a private hospital in Deralkatte.

Additionally, a case has been registered against five BJP workers Suresh, Vinay, Subhash, Ranjith, and Dhananjaya based on a complaint by the president of the mosque. The complaint alleges that the BJP workers shouted provocative slogans in front of the Boliyar mosque during the victory celebrations.

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