Recently a group of students asked their college for permissions to organise Saraswati Pooja and Visarjan. However, the college refused to allow the religious function claiming that they’re “secular”.
“Permission has been denied because ours is a secular campus and as such we cannot permit religious functions,”
the letter from university registrar to the principal read.
Moreover, this seems to be a trend among many colleges. Nowadays many educational institutions are denying permission on the grounds of “secularism”. However, following the media attention and the protests of the students, the college allowed the students’ demands.
This brings us to a question, should educational institutions restrict religious functions on the grounds of secularism?
But I will keep this question open for my readers. I am certainly raising a few points for both student’s body and educational institutes. I hope these points will help us in answering the question above.
Are students raising undemocratic demands?
Every citizen of India has the democratic privilege to practice and promote the religion of his choice. Educational institutions must focus on the academic life of an individual student, not what he or she does to practice their religion.
Earlier, in January 2018, north Indian students had actually gotten into a scuffle with Malayali students. They were opposing an event where beef cutlets were served on campus.
Moreover, Institutes should allow students to observe their rituals without causing a nuisance to people around. But it should not happen without taking prior permissions from the administration. However, the administration should consider such applications. They should make proper arrangements to ensure harmony among the students.
Is the college at fault?
However, I feel sad for the VC. The vice Chancellor could have handled this situation in a much better way. By denying and then allowing the Saraswati Pooja and Visarjan after protests sets a contradictory precedent.
Once an institute claims to have a secular ideology, we understand that it gives equal respect to every religion. Or it does not allow any religious activity by students of any faith inside its campus. But allowing beef cutlets and denying Saraswati Pooja does not work with the secular ideology that the institute claims to have.
But, in my view, an institute should allow religious activities for each religion. Furthermore, it is the responsibility of the institute to nurture the culture of religious harmony among its students. Once students will start enjoying each other’s festival only then will it create an environment of tolerance and peace.