Indian state imposing patriotic slogan worries church leaders

Light of truth

A directive for government school students in India’s Madhya Pradesh State to and 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 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.

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

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