Government school teachers working under Haryana state government were directed by the Mela Administrator cum Sub Divisional Officer of Bilaspur to attend a training camp on 29 October where teachers will be trained for performing ‘priestly services’ for an oncoming festival i.e. Kapal Mochan Mela.
Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, however, denied any role of the state government in this order and has mentioned that this could have been the directive of “local administration”, as reported by ANI.
Many teachers did not turn up for a session on October 29 to impart them training as pujaris. Bilaspur’s Sub Divisional Magistrate Naveen Ahuja, also the Mela Administrator, then wrote a letter to District Elementary Education Officer (DEEO) Suresh Kumar, attaching a list of teachers absent from duty.
According to the order, which was first reported by Times Now and posted by Randeep S. Surjewala, Congress Committee Communication Incharge on Twitter, teachers who missed the training camp were ordered to be assembled at the Surajkund Shrine Board Office on 30 October. Ahuja asked the DEEO to instruct the teachers to be present for training next day or face departmental proceedings.
Haryana Teachers Association has responded back sternly against the order. Association Adviser Jaydev Arya called it a “tughlaqi farmaan”, adding that they are ready to fight back the government if it decides to take action against the teachers.
Jawahar Yadav, Chairman of state Housing Board and former OSD to the Haryana CM, has denied the allegations. Yadav said that the teachers were called only to distribute “prasad” and help at the mela for tackling massive crowd that comes every year for the four-day long festivity. He said there has been no ‘agenda’ behind this order and there was no motive of making priests out of teachers.
Kapal Mochan Mela, which is held at Bilaspur every year, is a festivity sacred to Hindus and Sikhs and it attracts around 5 Lakh people each year. The crowd can be overwhelming to handle, but the question that arises is why were ‘teachers’ needed to handle the crowd or even perform ‘priestly services’. And even if Housing Board Chief is to be believed that they were needed to distribute prasad, what possible training would a person need to distribute prasad?
Diktats affect the Education System
According to a report by Daily Pioneer, Haryana needs to recruit 20,000 more teachers to cope with the poor pupil-teacher ratio. Even the statistics of MHRD mentions that the pupil-teacher ratio of Haryana is disproportionate. For intermediate class, the ratio is 29 as against the national average of 33, while for high school it is 26 as against the national average of 32. The ratio is expected to fall if the government continues to point similar hints to potential educators.
With this dearth of quality education, the performance of students is also falling in the state. The statistics of the 2016 report by HRD Ministry suffices to indicate the same. According to this report, the mean performance of students of Haryana falls short of national average. National average stands at 250, while state average stands at 236 and 240 in English and Mathematics respectively. This is one of the results of this poor pupil-tutor ratio.
The pattern that follows
This trend of passing unusual orders is not new in Haryana. In June 2016, state education department had passed another bizarre diktat for school teachers wherein they were disallowed from wearing jeans in schools and were encouraged to wear ‘formal clothes’. The Indian Express quoted PK Das, Additional secretary of the department, who said that the logic behind this order was, “the teacher is expected to be a role model to students and (thus must) display discipline and propriety in dressing.”
These indirect moves by the state government hint at a pattern that the BJP-led government is trying to create. The current diktat and similar previous diktats hint about the community of educators that Haryana state government wants to employ.
In fact, even in the Haryana State Civil Services (HSSC) Exams, which recruits candidates for the post of revenue secretary, food inspector, statistical inspector and so on, the students have been asked questions related to religious figures like Kali Kamli Baba, and Guru Ramdev.
Over the last three years, Haryana government has indirectly pointed out the ideological inclination of candidates that it wants to employ in its administration. The question that has yet again been raised in front of us is how do we want to see the future of our children and our society at large.