Must in Maharashtra schools from January 26: Preamble-reading sessions

Atikh Rashid
Constitution of India, Indian Consitution Social justice, Nani Palkhivala indian constitution, Kashmir lockdown, Indian Express news

According to the GR, although state schools were instructed to hold group readings of Preamble in a directive issued in February 2013, they haven’t been doing so.  (Illustration)

AMID the ongoing agitation against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), where the Preamble of the Constitution has become a symbol of resistance, the School Education department of Maharashtra government has decided to launch a programme on Republic Day, as part of which schools across the state will have to conduct a Preamble reading-session during morning assembly every day.

In a government resolution (GR) issued on Tuesday, the state directed schools to launch the programme — ‘Sarvabhaumatva Sanvidhanache, Janhit Sarvanche’ (sovereignty of Constitution, in interest of all) — from January 26.

“The Constitution of India was adopted on November 26, 1949, and it came into effect on January 26, 1950. It’s important that citizens are well informed about the Constitution. Students also need to be fully introduced to the Constitution of India and understand the expanse of fundamental principles and inclusivity of the Constitution. To imprint the principles of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity enshrined in the Constitution on the conscience of the society, it’s important that students are amply introduced to the Constitution,” reads the GR signed by Rajendra Pawar, deputy secretary of the department.

According to the GR, although state schools were instructed to hold group readings of Preamble in a directive issued in February 2013, they haven’t been doing so. “...all the primary and secondary schools should conduct a group reading of the Preamble during the morning assembly as part of ‘Sarvabhaumatva Sanvidhanache, Janhit Sarvanche’ programme, which will be launched on January 26, 2020,” reads the GR.

“I don't need to tell you what the situation in the country is today. By reading the Constitution and its Preamble, students will try to understand it and the principles enshrined in it. It will also strengthen secularism, which is needed today,” School Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad told The Indian Express.

The Constitution is at the heart of the ongoing controversy and nationwide protest over the CAA as many believe that the new amendment goes against the Constitution and its promise of equality of all religions. In fact, scores of protests and programmes to resist the CAA have been marked by protesters holding up copies of the Constitution and public readings of the Preamble.

When the state directive to hold group readings of the Preamble was announced in 2013, it had faced resistance and ridicule from civil society members and activists, who called it ‘lip-service’ and ‘tokenism’ by the government, instead of taking efforts to ensure that rights such as ‘freedom of expression’ of citizens were safeguarded.

As per the 2013 directive, schools were not only supposed to hold Preamble readings but also put up plaques displaying the Preamble at a prominent place or paint the text on a school wall. Schools were also directed to hold quiz competitions, and painting, essay and slogan competitions linked to the Constitution.