This is not an attempt to answer the question,’Does religious intolerance exist in India?’ rather I would like to dwell on a more pertinent and perennial question, ‘Can Educators contribute to creating an atmosphere of peaceful coexistence in any country let alone India?’ And the answer would be something like: ‘what? educators? who else can help stabilise unity?’
Now we cannot demand the departments of education to lengthen the working hours of educational institutions so that we can teach harmonious coexistence in the class rooms, although doing so cannot be considered inane in this day and age. Every educational institution in this country,if run by a religious trust/society, is entitled to promote/devote time for learning about their religion,and many do so.
But the question here is: how many educational institutions in this country teach children that religions are man-made and that they can believe in any religion they like and have close friends from any other religion? We know the answer: None. As an institution I do not expect schools to think out of the box…they have their own priorities. But is their anything you and I can do as an individual educator/teacher? Whether your answer is ‘yes’ or ‘no’,the fact is there is no limit to what we can do. All that we need to do is to teach our children that the Indian in them is more important than the Hindu/Christian/Sikh/Muslim in them.
We do not need any separate lesson for this. This can be done(and should be done) as part of our Language classes, Science classes, Commerce classes and even PE classes.Let our students learn to respect and coexist with the most vulnerable sections of the society as if their own life depend on the well being of those who cannot resist, question or protest.