Marking attendance in Gujarat state board schools will soon be devoid of the usual 'Yes Ma'am/Sir' and 'Present' that have long entailed a daily ritual. Instead, in an effort to 'instill nationalism' in students, they will reply 'Jai Hind' or 'Jai Bharat'.
A notification to this effect, written in Gujarati, has been sent out by the Directorate of Primary Education and the Gujarat secondary and higher secondary board. The notification indicates that the decision was taken by the state's education minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama during a review meeting on Monday.
In accordance with the new rule, education officers in the state have been told to ensure compliance starting Jan 1, 2019.
BJP MP Dr Subramanian Swamy opined that the move was a good one, saying, "It's good that Yes Sir will be replaced with Jai Hind and Jai Bharat. English is a language but we shouldn't follow it in our culture."
Meanwhile, Congress leader Sandeep Dikshit said:
"Attendance is a normal formality in every school. Will this government pressurise everyone everytime? The government may think that people don't believe in nationalism but the truth is that they don't know what nationalism is. They are doing dhongi rashtrabhakti (roughly - sham nationalism)"
Another Congress leader, PL Punia said he had no problems with the decision, "But if you tout this as if you did some big work, that's unnecessary."
NCP leader Majeed Memon said, "This is a kiddish thought. They're making a laughing stock of themselves. Your deshbhakti grows not with this, but with your work, behaviour, etc. "
This is actually the second time in recent months that the Gujarat state board has effected a change in the attendance rules pertaining to the schools that fall under its ambit. In October, the board had made 80% attendance compulsory for students of class X and XII raising eyebrows -- though that was clearly more for academic reasons.
Meanwhile, also in the domain of school education, in neighbouring Rajasthan, the new Ashok Gehlot-led Congress government has resolved to undo what it calls the 'saffronisation of education' which it alleges took place in the previous Vasundhara Raje-led government. A committee of historians has been constituted to review various changed, including about Emperor Akbar, Maharana Pratap, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Deendayal Upadhyaya and others.