Friday December 13, 2019

Ramayana, Gita should be taught in schools: Culture minister

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New Delhi: The Ramayana and the Gita are not religious texts and should be taught in schools, according to union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma.

Sharma said that including the Ramayana and the Gita in school curriculum was an attempt to inculcate spiritual and cultural values in children.

“It is an attempt to teach spiritual values to children. Ramayana is a way of life and it tells stories about many relationships – son and father, wife and husband and brother and brother. Likewise Gita is the knowledge given by Lord Krishna to Arjuna. These are not religious texts,” Sharma told IANS in an interview here.

The minister further said that the importance of these texts are recognised even in countries like Indonesia and Mauritius. “Ramayana is a great book and its importance is being recognised in Indonesia and even Mauritius. These countries have set up Ramayana centres. It’s high time we recognise their value,” added Sharma.

Denying reports of him saying that the Bible and the Quran are not central to India’s soul, Sharma said that he respects all religions and had been misquoted. However, he stressed that while the Bible and the Quran are religious texts, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana are not.

“I respect all religions. Bible is a religious text of Christians and Quran is a religious text of Muslims. Gita never advocates the worship of any God or religion. They are karma granths. But Bible and Quran preach to worship a particular God and religion. They are specific religious text for religions,” said Sharma.

Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb meeting with Dr Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State for Tourism and Culture during the Australian Business in India Week.
Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma

The minister had recently stoked controversy by saying that western culture is making inroads into Indian culture and polluting it.

Talking about the foreign culture, the minister said that young people should learn Indian languages like Sanskrit and Hindi to fight the “cultural pollution”.

Sharma said that he wanted students to emphasise on learning Indian languages. “It is a shame that students learn German and Spanish before learning Sanskrit or Hindi. I would like to term it a cultural pollution. Hindi is an optional language in many schools now. Sanskrit and Hindi should be made compulsory in all schools,” he said.

Recently, the culture ministry’s decision to revamp Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML) sparked controversy as Congress leaders and many historians termed it an attempt to tamper with India’s first Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru’s legacy. Contesting the charge, the minister said, “We are trying to preserve and acquire documents of nationalist leaders of modern India. The museum is not about one person,” Sharma said.

The ministry also has plans to re-examine the appointment of Mahesh Rangarajan as the director of NMML, the minister said. “There are certain irregularities in the appointment. The appointment was made despite the EC’s order to the Culture ministry on May 12, 2014 asking it to postpone the appointment of Rangarajan,” the minister said.

Rangarajan’s appointment was approved by the UPA on May 14, two days after the last day of polling – when the Election Commission’s Model Code of Conduct ceases to be operational. The minister added that Rangarajan took charge as director on May 19, 2014. “We will re-examine his appointment,” the minister said.

-By Preetha Nair (IANS)

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Number of Indians Studying in the U.S. Surpassed 2 Lakh

Indians studying in the USA Keeps Growing in Number

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Set of books for studying and reading.
Academic libraries are generally located on college and university campuses and primarily for studying and for faculty members. Pixabay

The number of Indians studying in the US increased by almost three per cent over the last year to 202, 014, – the sixth consecutive year marking such growth.

According to the 2019 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange released on Monday, Indians make up over 18% of all international students in the United States.

India provided the second highest number of graduate students and jumped up to third place in undergraduates, it said.

students studying in lecture
Students during a university lecture. Pixabay

Speaking at the United States India Educational Foundation (USIEF), the Embassy’s Minister Counselor for Consular Affairs Charisse Phillips said, “Student exchanges between our two countries help strengthen the foundation upon which our strategic partnership is built. Indian students are looking for a great education and the United States offers the best return on this investment.”

In 2018-19, US colleges and universities hosted more than one million international students for the fourth consecutive year. The total number of international students expanded for the thirteenth consecutive year.

The top places of origin for international students studying in the United States were China, India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Vietnam, Taiwan, Japan, Brazil and Mexico. The top host states were California, New York, Texas, Massachusetts, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio, Michigan and Indiana.

Also Read: Union Environment Ministry Rolling out Anti-pollution Measures for Delhi NCR region

Open Doors is published by the Institute of International Education (IIE), which has conducted an annual statistical survey on international students in the United States since its founding in 1919 and in partnership with the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs since 1972.

EducationUSA is a US Department of State network of over 430 international student advising centres in 178 countries and territories. EducationUSA is the official source on US higher education. In India there are 7 EducationUSA advising centers.

USIEF hosts centres in New Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai and Kolkata. The centre in Bengaluru is hosted by Yashna Trust and the one Ahmedabad is hosted by IAES. (IANS)