While the whole of India was celebrating the spectacular achievement of sending Chandrayaan-3 to the dark side of the moon, a dark side of India was exposed by a video in which a seven-year-old Muslim boy was slapped by his classmates for over an hour on the teacher’s instruction. As per media reports, the incident took place in Neha Public School in the Khubbapur village of Muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh and the teacher’s name is Tripta Tyagi. The crime of the child was his failure to learn his multiplication tables, but more than that he is a Muslim.
It was reported in the media that the teacher was making prejudicial comments inside the class room. “I have declared jitne bhi Mohammedan (Muslim) bachhe hai…” “Aey kya tum maar rahe ho iske… jor se maro naa…chalo aur kiska number hai, (What are you doing? Why are you not beating him harder),” Tripta Tyagi was heard urging the students to hit the visibly affected child.
In another incident, a teacher in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua district had severely beaten up a Class 10 boy for writing “Jai Shri Ram” on the classroom blackboard. But there is a glaring difference between the actions taken by the authorities in the two incidents. In the case of the Kathua incident, the teacher and the principal of the school were suspended and the district administration has appointed a committee to enquire into the incident. While the teacher in the Kathua incident was arrested, teacher Tripta Tyagi was allowed to give interviews to the media. Although the Police have registered an FIR against her, she goes on boldly justifying her criminal act. It is also reported that pressure is being put on the young boy’s father to withdraw his case against the teacher and settle the matter amicably.
Reacting to the two incidents, Mehbooba Mufti, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, tweeted, “Hate mongers won’t even spare kids when it comes to their venomous mindset. Appreciate the prompt action taken by Kathua police in filing an FIR. Odd that in the UP case, police are pressuring the child’s father to drop charges against the teacher who encouraged students to thrash him”.
NDTV News reported on 29th August another incident that exhibited the perverted mindset of a teacher in Delhi. Four students of Government Sarvodaya Bal Vidyalaya in Gandhi Nagar, Delhi alleged that their teacher made communal remarks and asked them why their families did not go to Pakistan during Partition. "During Partition, you did not go to Pakistan. You stayed in India. You have no contribution in India's freedom," the complaint quoted the teacher Hema Gulati as saying. The Delhi Police have registered a case against the teacher.
The three shocking incidents reveal the darkness into which Indian society is being pushed. They also show that there is no segment of Indian social life that is not infected with the venom of hatred. The hate-mongers have not spared even the innocent children. If a teacher like Tripta Tyagi has the audacity to justify her criminal act targeting children, it indicates that she has the support of a network of organizations who are actively involved in spreading hatred. Despite committing a heinous crime, she is not arrested. If the teacher in question were a Muslim and the child in question were a Hindu, the scenario would have been entirely different. Bulldozers might have demolished the house of the teacher and the teacher would have been put behind bars. The right-wing organizations would have created havoc. Yogi Adityanath government is quiet, and a social media trend says, “I support Tripta”. The socio-political climate in India is so vitiated that she could be made a candidate in the upcoming election to the Lok Sabha or state Assembly.
When one makes a close analysis of these developments, it can be found that the hatemongers did not appear all of a sudden. It could be the result of a slow brainwashing of children and youth with hate by certain organizations through their educational institutions. The Congress and other regional parties that ruled the Union and States did not pay attention to the slow poisoning of children and youth with hate, that has been taking place in Indian society for decades. Vote bank politics often forced them to be silent, in spite of being aware of the hazardous process that has been taking place especially in the field of education. When shops were opened and business was started in the market of hatred, these parties failed to open the shops of love. The result is an explosion of hate that is shaking the very foundation of secular Indian democracy and the unity and integrity of the nation.
That is why the Indian Express editorial on 29th August wrote, “These kinds of incidents repeat themselves in spaces vacated by a political system that turns a blind eye and deaf ear to them. The responsibility to counter the brutalization of the classroom must be owned by civil society, of course, the onus is primarily on the political leadership, and especially the government. A message must be sent out by the powerful that there will be no more climate of impunity for hate speech and action”.
Not paying sufficient attention to value inculcation, especially the Indian Constitutional values, by the private schools, including the Christian schools, could be another significant reason for the avalanche of hatred in Indian society. It appears that the bulk of the middle class, because of their self-interest, has become the supporters of an ideology that draws its nourishment from exclusion, hate and revenge. The middle class is the main beneficiaries of the elite private schools. Tripta Tyagi need not be the lone teacher who sells hatred in the business of education. There could be thousands of teachers who share the ideology of Tripta Tyagi in the educational institutions in India and they may be doing their business covertly, if not overtly. Those who run educational institutions should have the intelligence to discern the wolves in lambs’ clothing.
The Indian express editorial has mentioned that “for any society and democracy, the classroom is a sacred space. What is taught and what is learnt in it reaches into the future”. As the sacred space of the classroom is being infected with the poison of hatred, all stakeholders in education have the responsibility to disinfect it and restore its sacredness. Instilling hate in innocent school children is nothing but criminalization of education.
The first priority in the process of cleansing the sacred space of the classroom is selection, training and appointment of teachers who are committed to the core human values and the values enshrined in the Indian Constitution. According to the Indian tradition, a guru (teacher) is the one who brings light and wisdom into his /her disciples. He is the liberator, who illuminates the minds and hearts of the ignorant. In many Hindu traditions a guru is equated to God himself.
Guru Brahma Guru Vishnu
Guru Devo Maheshwara
Guru Sakshat Param Brahma
Tasmai Shri Guruve Namaha
Guru, the teacher, is equated with Brahma, the Lord of Creation; Vishnu, the Lord who is called organizer; Maheshwara, the Lord who is the destroyer and Param Brahma, the supreme God or Almighty. Anyone who shares any ideology that promotes hatred does not deserve to be selected and appointed as a teacher, however competent he or she may be.
Secondly, teachers are to be oriented towards a holistic understanding of education that gives equal importance to character-building and enhancing competence. According to Mahatma Gandhi, holistic education gives equal emphasis on the development of Head (Intellectual faculties) Hand (Skills) and Heart (Values). In the absence of character, competence can be misused, causing great harm to society. Many examples can be found in history, who abused their competence for destruction. Adolf Hitler who was responsible for the murder of nine million people, including six million Jews, is a notorious example for the abuse of competence in the absence of character.
The third priority in the context of India should be instilling in the children and the youth the Constitutional values of Secular Democracy, Justice, Liberty, Equality, Fraternity and respect for Individual Dignity. Failure of the government, civil society and educational institutions in imparting these values has been the main cause for the growth and influence of an ideology that is diametrically opposed to the Constitutional values.
The fourth priority in the process of cleansing the classroom is creating in the schools an environment that makes children belonging to all religions and cultures feel comfortable and are respected. Exhibiting quotes from different religious scriptures related to the core human and ethical values, conducting inter-faith prayer with common songs/bhajans and readings from different religious scriptures and celebrating different religious festivals are some measures that can be adopted.
While addressing a gathering on April 23, 2023 Mohan Bhagwat, the Sarsanghchalak of RSS, said how India can become Vishwa Guru. “We have to become a country which can offer answers to the problems plaguing the world today. We have to become a country which can show the world the path of peace, love and prosperity through right conduct," Mr Bhagwat said. If India has teachers like Tripta Tyagi, the nation becoming Vishwa Guru will remain always a distant dream. Hence cleansing education, especially the teachers, of the venom of hatred is most urgent and necessary.
If the authorities fail to take steps to cleanse education of hatred, the result could be disastrous as Dr. Haim Ginott, a German child psychologist and educator, had said. “I am a survivor of a concentration camp. My eyes saw what no person should witness. Gas chambers built by learned engineers. Children poisoned by educated physicians. Infants killed by trained nurses. Women and babies shot by high school and college graduates. So, I am suspicious of education. My request is: Help your children become human. Your efforts must never produce learned monsters or skilled psychopaths. Reading, writing and arithmetic are important only if they serve to make our children more human”.