In Uttar Pradesh, the BJP, after winning the last parliamentary and Assembly election, chose a traditional head of a Hindu religious order to be its chief minister. Regrettably, CM Yogi Adityanath, whose policies and utterances have failed to point to a modern, progressive direction in a single area, had a brainwave earlier this week. His government had let it be known earlier this week that it planned to put students of madrasas into a new “uniform” — most likely to be trousers and shirts. The pupils were not going to be permitted to wear the white pyjama-kurta combination, which is ubiquitous in northern India, especially among Muslims. That he was forced to withdraw this grand plan the next day after protests and an alleged intervention from the PMO is a huge relief.
This move was being passed off as a part of a drive to “modernise” the madrasa system, and was clearly rather idiotic. Barely four per cent of all Muslim students attend the traditional Islamic school. So, it is not clear what the compulsions of the UP government were. But the idea in itself was a bit like the government ordering students of a Hindu Sanskrit vidyalaya to abandon the dhoti and be obliged to wear trousers and shirts. Will there be any pressing need for such policy exuberance? Truth to tell, in an election year, and with the UP government having little to show by way of successful governance, the temptation may be great to move in a communal direction. Singling out young Muslims may be construed to be a step in that direction.