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TN govt constituted committee makes anti-Hindu recommendations to eliminate ‘casteism’: Here are 10 suggestions designed to ‘eradicate Sanatan Dharma’

If followed in full letter and spirit, the recommendations made by the Justice Chandru committee to the MK Stalin government in Tamil Nadu would grant enormous powers to the state to control and shape the thought process of impressionable young children in schools and colleges, which, in the current political atmosphere in the state, could be susceptible to being used to 'eradicate Sanatana Dharma'.

The Tamil Nadu government-constituted committee to propose solutions for preventing ‘caste-based discrimination’ and violence in educational institutions submitted its report on Tuesday. The contentious recommendations by the committee include, among other measures, no coloured wristbands, rings, and tilaks on the forehead, which it said served as ‘caste markers’. 

The single-member committee, led by retired Madras High Court judge Justice K Chandru, presented its findings to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin. The committee was established in August 2023 following an incident in Tirunelveli’s Nanguneri, where a brother and sister from the Scheduled Caste community were attacked by their classmates due to caste-related issues.

According to the report accessed by OpIndia, the committee proposed that students be prohibited from wearing coloured wristbands, rings, or forehead marks (tilaka) that indicate caste. The committee also advised that students should not use bicycles painted with caste references or display any caste-related sentiments.

From prohibiting tilak to controlling how children sit in classrooms to the appointment of a School Welfare Officer (SWO) to proposing state govt to constitute special units to investigate the ‘saffronisation’ of educational institutes, if followed in full letter and spirit, the recommendations made by the Justice Chandru committee to the MK Stalin government in Tamil Nadu would grant enormous powers to the state to control and shape the thought process of impressionable young children in schools and colleges, which, in the current political atmosphere in the state, could be susceptible to being used to ‘eradicate Sanatana Dharma’.

“Non-compliance with these rules should result in appropriate action, and parents or guardians should be informed,” the committee’s report stated.

While the trigger for the formation of the Committee came from the reprehensible Nanugeri incident, it is also worth noting that some of the recommendations made have, advertently or inadvertently, the potential of adversely impacting the Hindu cause and lead to what Tamil Nadu minister Udhayanidhi Stalin infamously vowed—’to eradicate Sanatana Dharma‘—stoking controversy across the country as he compared it with Malaria, Dengue etc.

In light of Stalin’s comments and the recommendations made by the committee, here are 10 such suggestions that appear to be designed to ‘eradicate Sanatana Dharma’ from the state.

1. Names of govt and private schools with ‘caste appellations’ should be changed, and those resisting change should be legally prosecuted

One of the first recommendations made by the committee is to drop caste appellations from the names of the schools. “The government must mandate the removal of any caste prefix or suffix associated with government schools that indicate either the donor or their family,” the committee states. 

The committee says in the case of private schools, they should be requested to change the name but if they fail to comply, appropriate legal steps should be considered, including legislative changes.

For teachers, the committee advised regular transfers of high school and higher secondary school staff.

“Guidelines should be issued to prevent officers such as CEOs, DEOs, BEOs, and headmasters from being posted in areas where they belong to the dominant caste,” the committee stated.

2. Students are prohibited from wearing coloured wristbands, rings, or forehead marks (Tilaks)

The statutory body formed by the Tamil Nadu government has also recommended prohibiting students from wearing coloured wristbands, rings, or forehead marks like Tilaks in the schools. For many practising Hindus, wearing a wristband or donning a tilak on the head is an article of faith and a religious belief, not a marker of caste identity, but the committee has nevertheless suggested against sporting them.

Predictably, the committee has no recommendations for students choosing to wear a veil or hijab to schools, or turbans, which are a dead giveaway of their identity and social standing. The recommendations are only limited to wristbands and tilaks. In short, this particular recommendation apply only to the Hindu majority. 

3. Children to sit in classrooms based on alphabetical order

The children or their teachers will no longer be able to decide where they will sit in the classrooms and with whom as the committee suggested children in schools and colleges be made to sit in alphabetical order, except physically challenged students who may be accommodated in the front row irrespective of where their name falls in the alphabetical order.

Schools are places where students exercise their discretion to forge lifelong bonds and create friendships and memories with pupils of their choice. The committee’s recommendation on how students should sit in the classroom is the first step towards robbing them of their agency.

4. Caste names to be kept confidential

The committee also recommends that the attendance register should not contain any column or details relating to their castes and there should be no mention of students’ castes in the classroom.

“At no point can the class teacher call out students by either directly or indirectly referring to their caste, nor make any derogatory remarks about the student’s caste or the so-called character attributed to the caste,” the committee recommends, although it does not elaborate if it means using only the first name of the students in the class as in many cases, the announcement of full names, and in some cases, partial names, often leads to the identification of his or her caste.

Enhance Local Body’s control over primary education

The committee notes that the current limited role of local bodies in controlling primary education should be expanded to full control over primary education. It says block-level administrations (Panchayat Unions) must have full control over schools, including appointing, posting, and removing staff.

However, such a move is fraught with risks as it assumes that there is no caste discrimination or consciousness about caste identities at the Panchayat levels. Granting a casteist person greater control over primary education can have counterproductive results for the committee that made the recommendation to eliminate casteism in schools.

Scholarships granted to students to be announced in private

Another intriguing recommendation made by the Tamil Nadu government-instituted committee is the non-disclosure of scholarships received by students in the classroom. The committee wants the government to continue dispensing scholarships, which are often based on the caste identities of the students, but it doesn’t want fellow students to know who among them has received which scholarship. 

“Classrooms are not the forum for announcing details of communications received regarding the scholarships of any student. If such communications are received, the headmaster shall call the student to his room and privately furnish such information,” the committee report accessed by OpIndia says. 

Appointment of School Welfare Officer (SWO)

The Committee has opined the appointment of a School Welfare Officer by the state government. The responsibilities envisioned for SWOs include monitoring the functioning of the school regarding issues of ragging, drug menace, sexual assault and offences related to caste discrimination, and conducting orientation programmes on the aforementioned issues at the beginning of every academic year.

The SWOs would directly report to a State-level Monitoring Committee constituted by the Director of School Education (DSE) in collaboration with the Director of School Education (Private Schools) (DSEPS). The SWO also has been granted the power to file a complaint against members of the School Management Committee to the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights and has the authority to recommend action against teachers and school staff. 

The SWO, as mentioned above, has been vested with sweeping powers to take action they deem fit. This could include acting against teachers, staff, and traditions followed in the school, among other things, thereby controlling everyday operations in an educational institute in the name of warding off ‘caste discrimination’.

TN govt to establish Social Justice Force (SJSF) to fight ‘social evils’

The Committee also proposed the establishment of a student force called Social Justice Students Force (SJSF) which would work ‘independently’ of the union government. 

“The primary objective of creating the SJSF is to combat social evils and to participate in community-level programs organised by the government. Special care should be taken to include students from minority groups, women, Scheduled Castes, and Scheduled Tribes,” the Committee stated.

But it won’t be a surprise if the force is put to use to perpetuate a particular political narrative, especially in the absence of the union government oversight, with the incumbent state governments having the power to use them as an instrument to shore up their agenda. 

Restriction on the use of school properties for ‘Non-educational purposes’

The committee also put forth that the government introduce regulations prohibiting the use of school or college facilities for activities that promote communal or caste-related messages, such as mass drills or parades.

Any activity or tradition followed in the school can be accused of being communal or sending caste-related messages, leading to suspension. And with powers vested in SWO, teachers and school staff will be unwilling to allow their school property used for any event, particularly those that can be arbitrarily branded as communal and designed to ‘propagate casteism’. 

Declaration of Areas as Caste Atrocities Prone and the Constitution of Special Intelligence Units to Investigate ‘saffronisation’ of Institutes

Another contentious measure that the Committee proposes is the declaration of specific areas as “caste atrocity-prone” and government-constituted Special Intelligence Units to collect intelligence on caste violence and identify persons or organisations involved in fomenting caste discrimination.

The law enforcement agencies already exist to fight caste discrimination and caste-based atrocities. There are already legislations that outlaw and penalise caste-based discrimination such as the SC/ST Act, yet the declaration of a ‘caste atrocity prone’ area and constitution of new intelligence units could make it susceptible to exploitation by those in power. 

Additionally, the committee recommended the government appoint an expert body to investigate allegations of saffronisation of education and activities that undermine caste and communal harmony within educational institutions.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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