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After years of resistance, why it’s time for Madrasas to go modern

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By Nithin Sridhar

Madrasas and other institutions that do not teach subjects like Math and Science will not be recognized as formal schools, according to the latest decision taken by Maharashtra government. Further, they will not receive state funding and the students in them will be marked as “out of school”. Hence, around 1.5 lakh students enrolled in 1889 registered Madrasas will stand to be marked as being “out of school”.

Though the Minister of State for Minority Affairs, Mr. Kamble has clarified that the measure is aimed to make sure that such students can be included into mainstream, it has been heavily criticized by Muslim leaders and opposition parties. Kamal Farooqui of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board has been quoted as saying- “It is ill-designed and ill-timed, I don’t know why they are doing it.”

But what is being ignored by all the critics of the decision is the fact that without imparting education in crucial subjects like Math, Science, Social Studies, Computers, and English, no modernization is possible.

What are Madrasas?

Madrasas are centres of Islamic learning. Although some Madrasas teach secular subjects like logic, language (Arabic through the medium of Urdu), Islamic history and geography, in general, they have a religion-based curriculum focusing on the Quran and other Islamic texts.

They do not train students in modern science, technology and value systems. The major difference between Madrasas and regular schools is that the education imparted in Madrasas are not enough to qualify the students for employment in modern-day offices.

In 2013, Maharashtra government had launched Dr. Zakir Hussain Madrasa Modernization Scheme, under which the government will fund various activities like building libraries, hostels etc. of those Madrasas that would enroll with the scheme.

In return, these Madrasas were asked to teach Math, Science, Languages and Social Sciences. But, only 556 Madrasas availed this scheme in 2014-15. Further, the religious clerics raise the issue of government interference, every-time there is an attempt at introducing Madrasa modernization schemes be it in the states or at the centre. This clearly depicts the reluctance of Madrasas to modernize themselves and mainstream their students.

Why is modernization necessary?

Madrasas in India originated during Delhi Sultanate. It was primarily a medium to equip the youth for administrative services of the Sultanate. Since the cessation of Muslim rule in India, graduates from Madrasas largely remain unemployed except for those few who continue studies in departments of Islamic studies, Arabic or Urdu in some of the modern Indian universities. Many of the Madrasa students find it difficult to get into higher education because of the lack of education in Math and Science. This directly contributes towards poverty prevalent among various Muslim communities.

In his report regarding introduction of modern education in Madrasas, Justice M.S.A.Siddiqui notes- “Most of the Madarsas are averse to the introduction of modern education. Some of the books taught in this system are antiquated and others have become irrelevant to the global society we live in. The curriculum of majority of Madarsas is exclusivist, which could give rise to fundamentalist tendencies among the students. It is a welcome trend, however, that some of the Madarsas have introduced modern education complemented with religious education.

In majority of these Madarsas, though, the students have no access to modern secular education. This not only breeds a sense of alienation, but also isolates them from the inclusive society that India is. General secular education will open the doors of perception and act as the natural light of mind for our people to live pro-actively in the total contest. If modern education is introduced in these Madarsas, it will certainly create conditions for promoting modern and secular outlook among students and empower them to participate as equal partners in an inclusive society.”

Justice Siddiqui further points out that the managers of Madrasas are completely confused regarding the objectives of Madrasa teachings. The curriculum prescribed in the Madrasas are neither uniform nor scientific. He cautions that-“What students learn in Madarsas is very largely based on religious instructions that fail to equip them with the skills required today. Muslims in India must realize that they are actually scraping the bottom of the education barrel in an era of internationalism.”

“Dar-ul-Uloom, Deoband” and “Dar-ul-Uloom Nadwat-ul Ulama, Lucknow” are two of the premier institutes of Islamic learning in India. They have a comprehensive syllabus that covers wide range of topics. The Nadwat-ul-Ulama of Lucknow also brought about certain far-reaching changes in the traditional curriculum of the Qaumi Madrasas. The primary five years cover complete primary education as prescribed for general schools along with giving religious lessons.

But, these changes are only limited to famous and well established Madrasas. A large number of Madrasas are neither affiliated to the Central Board nor registered with the state government. According to Maharashtra government’s data, only 1889 Madrasas are present in Maharashtra. But, Maulana Syed Athar Ali, a Muslim Personal Law Board member, has been quoted as saying that there are7000 Madrasas in Maharashtra.

It means that more than half of the Madrasas in Maharashtra function independently and have their own syllabus giving more importance to Islamic subjects and in some cases completely ignoring secular subjects. This has resulted in alienation and further deprivation of Muslim students who study in these Madrasas.

Therefore, it becomes very vital to bring about modernization of Madrasas for the benefit of the Muslim population of India.

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India Demands Data on UN Staff Misconduct, Use of Immunity

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India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about misconduct by UN staff. Flickr

United Nations, Oct 7: In an attempt to break the wall of silence around the crimes and UN staff misconduct and those on its assignments, India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about such cases and the immunity invoked against prosecutions.

Yedla Umasankar, the legal advisor in India’s UN Mission, touched a raw nerve here by criticising the UN on Friday for not vigorously following up allegations of serious wrongdoing by its employees who enjoy the equivalent of diplomatic immunity, a prized possession of its staff.

“It appears that the UN system itself may be reluctant to waive immunity even for serious misconduct carried out by its personnel while serving on its missions, so that such cases can be prosecuted by the host governments,” he told the General Assembly’s committee on legal affairs.

“Even a few of such instances or allegations of crimes committed by UN personnel is highly damaging for the image and credibility of the United Nations system and its work around the world,” he added.

His statement also touched on the practice of some countries that protect their wrongdoers at the UN.

Umasankar demanded that secretariat disclose how many cases of serious misconduct by UN personnel were registered and the number of cases where the UN refused to waive immunity to allow their prosecution.

He also wanted to know in how many cases the host country wanted the immunity waived so it can prosecute those accused; the number of times the UN asked the host country or the country that sent them to prosecute them; how many times it consulted countries before waiver of the immunity of their personnel and how many of them refused UN’s request to waive their citizens’ immunity.

The information he wanted does not cover the diplomats sent by member countries to represent them at UN bodies and enjoy diplomatic immunity with the nations hosting the UN facilities.

After scores of serious allegations of sexual misconduct by peacekeepers, especially exploitation of children, the UN vowed to uphold a policy of zero tolerance and began publishing data on such cases in peacekeeping operations including how they were dealt with.

Starting with the year 2015, it began identifying the nationalities of those accused.

However, it has not made public a roster detailing all the allegations and proven cases of serious misconduct across the entire UN.

While the focus has been on sexual exploitation and abuse reported on peacekeeping operations, Umasankar said that “at a broader level, the issue of accountability has remained elusive in some cases”.

He attributed it to “the complexities of legal aspects relating to sovereignty and jurisdiction”, the immunity or privileges that may be necessary for UN operations, and the capability or willingness of countries to investigate and prosecute the accused.

He noted that the UN itself cannot make criminal prosecutions.

While Indian laws has provisions for dealing with crimes committed abroad by its citizens, not all countries have them, he said.

Those countries should be encouraged and helped to implement such measures, he added. (IANS)

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Indo-Pak Peace Talks Futile Unless Islamabad Sheds Links with Terrorism, says Study

A Study by a U.S. think tank calls India and Pakistan talks futile, until Pakistan changes its approach.

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India and Pakistan. Wikimedia.

A Top United States of America (U.S.) think tank, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace called the relations between India and Pakistan futile, unless Islamabad changes its approach and sheds its links with Jihadi terrorism.

A report “Are India and Pakistan Peace Talks Worth a Damn”, authored by Ashley J Tellis stated that such a move supported by foreign countries would be counterproductive and misguided.

The report suggests that International community’s call for the India and Pakistan talks don’t recognize that the tension between the two countries is not actually due to the sharp differences between them, but due to the long rooted ideological, territorial and power-political hatred. The report states that these antagonisms are fueled by Pakistani army’s desire to subvert India’s powerful global position.

Tellis writes that Pakistan’s hatred is driven by its aim to be considered and treated equal to India, despite the vast differences in their achievements and capabilities.

Also ReadMilitant Groups in Pakistan Emerge as Political Parties : Can Violent Extremism and Politics Co-exist? 

New Delhi, however, has kept their stance clear and mentioned that India and Pakistan talks cannot be conducted, until, the latter stops supporting terrorism, and the people conducting destructive activities in India.

The report further suggests that Pakistan sees India as a genuine threat and continuously uses Jihadi terrorism as a source to weaken India. The report extends its support to India’s position and asks other international powers, including the U.S., to extend their support to New Delhi.

Earlier in September, Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) slammed Pakistan for its continuous terror activities. She attacked the country by saying that India has produced engineers, doctors, and scholars; Pakistan has produced terrorists.

Sushma Swaraj further said that when India is being recognised in the world for its IT and achievements in the space, Pakistan is producing Terrorist Organisations like Lashkar-e-Taiba. She said that Pakistan is the world’s greatest exporter of havoc, death and inhumanity.

-by Megha Acharya  of NewsGram. Megha can be reached at @ImMeghaacharya. 

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Delhi University Students Win the Enactus World Cup 2017

India wins the Enactus World Cup 2017

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India wins Enactus World Cup 2017. Twitter.

New Delhi, Sep 30: After an extremely tough competition between different students across the world in the Enactus World Cup 2017, Team India, represented by Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies (SSCBS), Delhi University emerged as the winner. The winning projects were project UDAAN and Mission RAAHAT.

Supporting the Government of India’s Digital India and Swachh Bharat Abhiyan mission, RAAHAT strives to effectively eliminate open defecation and provide safe sanitation in the urban slums; whereas, UDAAN aims at narrowing the digital divide between rural and urban India by setting up computer centres.

The Delhi University college team was led by the college’s faculty advisor, Anuja Mathur and student president of SSCBS Student President Aditya Sharma. The winning projects included 34 more members. The Enactus India and Enactus SSCBS were presented the Ford Better World Award of USD 50,000.

Also Read: Three Indian Women on Fortune’s Most Powerful Business Women

President and Global CEO, Enactus, Rachael A. Jarosh congratulated the Indian for winning the world cup and called the projects- RAAHAT and UDAAN, inspirational success stories of Enactus students, who are sowing businesses. She said that the projects address the real world challenges efficiently and innovatively. Enactus India President Farhan Pettiwala said that the two projects created by Delhi University students contribute to the country’s betterment, as they support the Government’s civil and social agenda.

Enactus is an international nonprofit organisation, with 72,000 students from 1,700 universities in 36 countries, which held its annual global event in London from September 26 to 28. A selected group of 3,500 students, business, government leaders and academicians across the globe were present at the event. Participants for the final competition round are qualified from over 72,000 university students. Each team has about 17 minutes to present their projects of entrepreneurial action.

Enactus works to nurture the entrepreneurial skills of students, and to address fundamental, social and economic challenges by developing innovative and experiential learning opportunities for students.

-by Megha Acharya of NewsGram. Megha can be reached at @ImMeghaacharya.