India: EFI Condemns 'Surya Namaskar' Programme in MP Schools

General January 26, 2007

The Evangelical Fellowship of India condemns the BJP government's decision to go ahead with the mass yoga programme on 'Surya Namaskar', on 25 January 2007 in Madhya Pradesh, with over three lakh school children expected to be in attendance.

Newspaper reports indicate that the main programme scheduled here will be telecast and aired across the state. Citizens, private organisations and educational institutes have been invited to attend it. Two teachers were trained in every block to conduct the programme.

The Central Chronicle quotes Muslim and Christian representatives as saying "Booklets carrying 'Shlokas' have also been circulated among the schools for recitation," and that the BJP government in the state was attempting to 'incite religious passion under the garb of yoga' among school children, Catholic Church of Madhya Pradesh spokesman Anand Muttungal said.

By insisting that schools, especially government schools participate in a religious programme, the Madhya Pradesh government is violating a basic principle of Secularism as enshrined in the Indian Constitution.

EFI urges the Madhya Pradesh Government to revoke its order and allow educational institutions to stick to education in the strictest sense of the term and foster an inclusive and secularist culture.