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Guru in school row

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By OUR BUREAU
  • Published 22.03.12
  •  
Ravi Shankar , Sibal

March 21: A comment attributed to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar that government schools breed Naxalites has sparked a furore, forcing the spiritual guru to issue a clarification today.

Speaking at the 25th anniversary of a private school in Jaipur yesterday, Ravi Shankar had said: “Government ko koi school nahi chalana chahiye. Aksar paya jata hai ki government school se padhe hue bacche hi is tarha naxalvad me hinsa ke marg me chale jate hain. (The government should not run any schools. It is often found that students from government school go into Naxalism and take up violence.)”

He was quoted as saying this does not happen in private schools where students are taught discipline and are focused on certain goals to be achieved in life.

The statement triggered an uproar, with some activists demanding legal action against Ravi Shankar.

HRD minister Kapil Sibal today said: “Any person with a sense of balance cannot make such a statement. There must be some mistake in reporting, because any person with some element of sanity would not have made such a remark. I am sure the individual you are talking about is fully sane.”

“When I read the statement, I was surprised. I am confident that perhaps the person had not made such a statement. People occupying top positions in the government and outside government, members of the judiciary and former Presidents have studied in government schools. Can it ever be said that they are all Naxalites?” the minister asked.

Such a “sweeping statement” would not come from an “individual having a sense of balance”, Sibal said.

Ravi Shankar today said great talents have emerged from government schools and he would never generalise. “I did not say all government schools (where lakhs study) breed Naxalism. I specifically referred to sick government schools in Naxal-affected areas. Many who have turned to Naxalism have come from these schools,” he said.

Many local organisations and NGOs had demanded evidence that government schools are breeding grounds for violence and Naxalism.

Kavita Srivastav, a PUCL activist, said: “We feel that this statement is anti-constitutional as it goes against Article 21-A where the government isbound to provide free and compulsory education to children of the age group 6 to 14 years.”

Demanding legal action against the guru, Srivastava added: “It should be known that this statement was made from the platform of the silverjubilee celebrations of Adarsh Vidya Society.”

BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said: “Poor children study in government schools and these schools form the foundation of our country.”