Days after the BJP-led North Delhi Municipal Corporation issued a circular directing its schools to ensure that “students recite Gayatri Mantra during the morning prayer assembly”, it faced criticism from both the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Congress. AAP said that such orders cannot be issued when children of all religions study in schools. AAP Leader of Opposition in the North civic body, Anil Lakra, said, “These are state-funded schools and state cannot impose any one particular religious belief irrespective of whether one is Hindu, Muslim or Christian.”
Leader of Congress in North Corporation, Mukesh Goyal, said, “The learning level is such that several students are unable to identify English and Hindi alphabets. So instead of making them learn Gayatri Manta, they should first focus on making them learn English and Hindi alphabets and words.”
The civic body, in its circular dated September 6, said that students should recite the gayatri mantra, the national anthem, and songs of national pride during the assembly. Education committee chairperson in the North civic body, Ritu Goel, said that reciting the gayatri mantra is not “compulsory”, and students can choose to skip it.
The corporation has further directed that principals should be present, and students learn about the news, hygiene lessons and practice physical training during the assembly. The North civic body has 765 schools where over 2 lakh students are enrolled. The corporation schools are battling several issues like decreasing enrollment rate, weak teacher-student ratio, and lack of notebooks despite half of the academic session being finished.