In a welcome move, the BJP-led Assam government has decided to disband the State Madrassa Board and hand over the academic part of it to the Board of Secondary Education. The Sanskrit Board will also be dissolved. This move comes on the back of state Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma asking madrassas to stop remaining shut on Fridays and shift their weekly off-day uniformly with other educational institutions to Sunday. This move will help the madrassas, Sanskrit schools align with the mainstream schools and introduce modern learning like computers in these institutions.
“To mainstream Madrassa education, we are disbanding the Madrassa Education directorate and making it part of the Secondary Education directorate. The Madrassa Board too will be dissolved and the academic part will be handed over to the Board of Secondary Education,” said Sarma in a series of tweets. He made it clear that the Assam government was restructuring to introduce reforms. “We want to introduce modern learning like computers in these educational institutes. For doing this, we will have to change the existing structure,” he said during his reply to a cut motion on Supplementary Demands for Grants for Mid-Day Meal Scheme in the special session of the assembly. While the madrassa education would be placed under the state Board of Secondary Education, Sanskrit tols would be looked after by the Kumar Bhaskarvarma Sanskrit & Ancient Studies University, he said.
It is heartening to see that Sarma doesn’t want to be politically correct and is ready to take bold decisions to introduce reforms. “If someone is teaching religion using own money that is no problem, but if state funding is used to teach Quran, then we have to teach Gita, Bible also,” he said. Therefore, the govt run Madrassas, High Madrassas and Sanskrit Tols (schools) operating in the state will be converted to regular schools very soon.
Himanta Biswa Sarma has played a key role in the BJP’s rapidly increasing footprint in the NorthEast. He has also been at the forefront at creating acceptance for CAA in Assam and spreading the ideology of nationalism in the NorthEast. While Assam remained on tenterhooks over the CAA in December, Sarma continued to counter the massive misinformation campaign over the CAA. Sarma’s relentless efforts countered the anti-BJP sentiment in the state. The massive ‘Sankalpa rally’ addressed b Himanta Biswa Sarma drew massive crowds. The humongous crowds show that there were gross miscalculations in the assessment of the political repercussions of CAA in Assam.
In fact, BJP’s popularity doesn’t seem to have receded at all.Not only the Bokahat rally, but even the Dhemaji ‘peace’ rally held by the Assam Finance Minister in Dhemaji in Upper Assam had drawn a massive crowd. During this rally, Sarma had taken a sharp dig at the Congress arguing that 90 per cent of the Congress MLAs from Assam who are Indian citizens have Bangladeshi ancestors. In fact, Himanta Biswa Sarma is the one who ensured that the BJP was able to steer clear of the anti CAA violence.
After the anti CAA violence took grip of the state, there were reports about BJP leaders harbouring worries about the political fallout of the move. However, the man who mattered the most maintained his composure throughout the crisis and kept supporting the CAA. Shortly after the passage of CAA, Himanta Biswa Sarma had joined the Nalbari ‘peace & prosperity” march along with other senior party leaders and Assam CM, Sarbananda Sonowal.
The BJP has hit a jackpot with Himanta Biswa Sarma and he must be commended for taking such a bold and much needed decision. Religion and Education must not be mixed especially at the expense of the taxpayers. Hopefully, the other states take a cue from Assam and delink education and religion.