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Government has spent Rs. 1000 crores modernizing Islamic educational institutions, says Minister for Human Resource Development

Over 48,000 madrasas in Uttar Pradesh (UP) received financial assistance during the last seven years

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In Dhaka, Madrasa students carrying out a rally. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
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  • The government increased the spending on the Scheme for Providing Quality Education in Madrasas (SPQEM), launched in 2009-10, from Rs 46 crore to Rs 294 crore in 2015-2016
  • UP madrasas received maximum funds
  • Madrasa students are predominantly Muslims, who reported the largest increase in literacy

NEW DELHI: According to the data released by Minister for Human Resource Development Prakash Javadekar in the Lok Sabha, the union government has spent over Rs 1,000 crore over seven years to modernize madrasas or Islamic educational institutions.
The government increased the spending on the Scheme for Providing Quality Education in Madrasas (SPQEM), launched in 2009-10, from Rs 46 crore to Rs 294 crore – more than a five-fold increase. Spending almost tripled in one year — 2015-16 — to Rs 294 crore from Rs 108 crore in the previous year.

“Under the scheme, financial assistance is provided to encourage traditional institutions like madrasas and maktqabs to introduce modern education in subjects such as science, mathematics, social studies, Hindi and English in their curriculum through support for teachers, books, teaching learning materials and computer labs,” the minister said.

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UP madrasas received maximum funds

Over 48,000 madrasas in Uttar Pradesh (UP) received financial assistance during the last seven years — the highest amongst all states — followed by Madhya Pradesh and Kerala.

While UP saw an increase of 62 per cent in the number of madrasas supported in 2015-16 over the previous year (from 9,217 to 14,974), Bihar witnessed a jump of 13 times (from 80 to 1,127).

Madrasa students are predominantly Muslims, who reported the largest increase in literacy — 9.4 percentage points, from 59.1 per cent in 2001 to 68.5 per cent in 2011 — among India’s minorities, IndiaSpend reported on July 26, 2016.

madrasa
Image source: indianexpress.com

Despite almost trebling in the decade ending 2010 — from 5.2 per cent to 13.8 per cent — the rate of Muslim enrollment in higher education trailed the national figure of 23.6 per cent, other backward classes (22.1 per cent) and scheduled castes (18.5 per cent), IndiaSpend reported on July 22, 2016.

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“Since 1993, there has been a madrasa modernization policy, primarily designed for azad madrasas. The idea was to convince them to teach modern subjects in lieu of state grants for books and additional teachers,” wrote Arshad Alam, an assistant professor at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, in The Indian Express on July 25, 2015.

“But the policy treated madrasas as homogeneous, so grants were also cornered by state-funded madrasas,” wrote Alam. “Also, a majority of the grants to azad madrasas have been utilized to hire part-time untrained teachers, which defeats the purpose of introducing quality education in these institutions. To top it all, madrasas affiliated to Deobandis and Ahl-e-Hadis completely refused to take part in this initiative.”(IANS)

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Is Chutney out of place in Carnival?

Chutney has been able to resist the domination of calypso as the heartbeat of Carnival music

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Chutney has been able to resist the domination of calypso as the heartbeat of Carnival music. Wikimedia Commons
Chutney has been able to resist the domination of calypso as the heartbeat of Carnival music. Wikimedia Commons
  • Chutney soca music is a crossover style of music incorporating Soca elements
  • The satire on Prime Minister Rowley’s mother has been arguably the most controversial song in the history of calypso, soca and chutney in the country.
  • It is the International Chutney Queen Competition to be held on February 2 at Guaracara Park in San Fernando, the second largest city in the country

By Dr Kumar Mahabir

When people get angry, they tend to speak their mind. Their emotions explode in words that they have been suppressing for some time. Psychologist Dr Jeffrey Huntsinger proved this theory after conducting experiments at Loyala University in Chicago in the USA in 2012.

Chutney Soca promoter George Singh really spoke his mind when he became upset on learning that his 2018 show was not funded by the National Lotteries Control Board (NLCB), an agency of the Afro-dominated Government in multi-ethnic Trinidad and Tobago  (T&T).

At a news conference which he convened, Singh said that “the decision by the Government not to support chutney soca was an insult to the art form” (Express 05/02/17).

George Singh is a Chutney Soca promoter. Wikimedia Commons
George Singh is a Chutney Soca promoter. Wikimedia Commons

Singh raged: “The Government, over the last three years, has consistently reduced funding to Chutney Soca Monarch and various members of the present administration have stated directly to me that chutney soca brings no value to Carnival” (emphasis added).

At the same news conference, Singh said that the Government had approved a budget of TT $146 million to the National Carnival Commission (NCC).

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“I think this administration is hell-bent on seeing that it [chutney soca] has no place in Carnival. It is a slap in the face to Indo-Caribbean entertainment,” he said.

Singh’s outburst was a public exposé of what the Indo-Trinidadian (Indian) community had always known i.e. Indian culture (e.g. chutney, pichakaree ) is given marginal or no space in “national” and regional shows (e.g. CARIFESTA).

Sing’s rant is more revealing since he has admitted that he has “family ties” to Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi (Express 27/12/17).

Carnival in Trinidad has long been the cultural preservation of the Afro-Trinidadian (African) community. Wikimedia Commons
Carnival in Trinidad has long been the cultural preservation of the Afro-Trinidadian (African) community. Wikimedia Commons

In all his anger, Singh was careful not to confirm what almost every Trinidadian suspected i.e. that Government initially denied him funding because he was allowing Massive to perform his hot chutney hit “Rowlee Mudda Count.”

The satire on Prime Minister Rowley’s mother has been arguably the most controversial song in the history of calypso, soca and chutney in the country.

I have always contended that chutney concerts, competitions, tents and fêtes must be recognised as part of Carnival and must be a given an equitable share of culture funds, media space and stage presence.

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My argument is contained in detail in a chapter entitled “Chutney Music in Carnival:

Re-defining National Identity in Trinidad and Tobago” in the book Caribbean Dynamics:

Re-configuring Caribbean Culture (2015). The book is edited by Drs Beatrice Boufoy-Bastick Savrina Chinien and published by Ian Randle in Jamaica.

In the chapter, I discussed how Carnival in Trinidad has long been the cultural preservation of the Afro-Trinidadian (African) community. To this day, the major players and champions of calypso, soca, extempo, steelpan and masquerade, whether in Jouvert (“Jour Ouvert”) or Dimanche Gras, remain participants of African descent.

The emergence of chutney music and artists in 1995 – when Basdeo Panday was elected as the first Indian Prime Minister of T&T – was historic. In 1996, the rendition of Sonny Mann’s runaway hit “Lotay La” by DJs in soca parties, and by steel bands as their Road Mach tune during Carnival signalled the advent of chutney into the national urbanized festival/centre.

Chutney is being strongly influenced by calypso and soca rhythms and dance styles. Wikimedia Commons
Chutney is being strongly influenced by calypso and soca rhythms and dance styles. Wikimedia Commons

In the following years, Indians continued to change the ontology of “the national festival” to the extent that Carnival has to be re-defined to include Chutney Monarch, Chutney Brass, Chutney Soca, Chutney Calypso, Chutney Glow and Chutney Mardi Gras.

For the first time this year, a new chutney show is being introduced to the Carnival calendar. It is the International Chutney Queen Competition to be held on February 2 at Guaracara Park in San Fernando, the second largest city in the country. The event is being hosted by Randy Glasgow Productions.

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Chutney is being strongly influenced by calypso and soca rhythms and dance styles, but the genre is also used as an alternative to the Afro-Creole music formats. There have been two institutionalised chutney calypso theatres: “D” Massive Gosine Roving Calypso/Chutney Tent and the National Chutney Calypso Touring Tent.  Now in its eighth year is the National Carnival Schools Intellectual Chutney Soca Monarch Competition held at the Queen’s Park Savannah in Port of Spain.

These chutney competitions cum fêtes allow Indians to gain a sense of inclusion in this grand “national” festival, although on the periphery of the capital city. These cultural incursions also allow Indians to actively participate in Carnival without losing their (sense of) ethnic identity.

Dr Kumar Mahabir is an anthropologist who has published 11 books
Dr Kumar Mahabir is an anthropologist who has published 11 books

In 1998, cultural critic Burton Sankeralli wrote: “Indians are claiming Carnival space as Indians…. [and] … The flagship of this Indocentric presence and contestation for space is chutney …” With the re-creation of chutney, Indian artists are refusing to be subjected to silence and invisibility on mainstream radio, television, newspaper and the stage.

Chutney has been able to resist the domination of calypso as the heartbeat of Carnival music. The subversive spirit of calypso and Carnival is perhaps being re-incarnated in chutney.

(Dr Kumar Mahabir is an anthropologist who has published 11 books)