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Taking Stock
Who is to be blamed?
By Rizwan Ullah

When there were no schools in villages, and even in cities and towns they were a few and far between, madrasas were gathering children for early education where they were given elementary lessons in religion and the emphasis was on moral and social values. 

Rizwan Ullah

We had Mahabharata and many uprisings during the centuries of Moghul rule and many other such episodes in the history of other countries including Muslim and Christian ones. What makes the difference at this point of time is the vicious practice of seeing everything from a communal prism.

  It may be remembered that during the early days of the Naxalite movement in Bengal most of the young men, teenagers, caught or killed in clashes or encounters were educated, youth who had come out of their classes. Some of them had good college education and belonged to respectable families. It may be true of the northeast region where literacy rate is one of the highest in the country and the uprisings of various sorts there are almost as old as our freedom. In view of the high literacy rate it may be understood that those up in arms must be generally educated. It may be more or less true about other war groups in some other pockets of the country. It shows that the educated youth must be agitated against the prevailing political situation and the social inequalities. The leaders at the helm failed to see their points of view and adopt an attitude of understanding and forbearance.

However, does it mean that the main cause of violent outbursts is the proliferation of education or the system of education or educational institutions of all descriptions which have produced and groomed generations of our people past and present? Does it mean that all those institutions have produced the devil evil doers and rebels so they should be condemned rather banned and all those coming out of those institutions should be haunted, hounded and hunted out? Certainly not.

The trishul wielding ruffians going on rampage creating disruption in the society must have had their early teaching in pathshalas which are spread all over the country in villages, towns and cities where bare footed and half clad Brahmins must have taught them the highest traditions of the Indian culture and must have received handfuls of flour or grain in return. Now many of those pathshalas are enjoying the blessings of the modern life. The poor Brahmin did commendable service to the people when teaching facilities were insufficient but their shishus and shishus of those shishus have gone astray and are bent upon destroying the established norms of mutual living in a composite society. In such circumstances should the Brahmin be haunted and the shishus be hunted down and the pathshalas be closed? Many of our leaders in the war of independence got their highest education in the world renowned universities and schools in England. On their return to the motherland in slavery a flame of freedom kindled within them which was viewed as rebellion by the alien rulers and hailed at home as fighting for national independence. They were punished and penalized. Was that a case where the Englishmen should have closed down their academies and should have sent the gurus who taught the slave children the values of freedom behind the bars? Could any flight of imagination have thought of it?

Then, what is true of the schools and colleges and pathshalas and their products must be true of the madrasas and their products. They should be measured with the same yardstick unless we admit that we are prejudiced and a discriminating society, looking at the minorities and their traditional institutions with a jaundiced vision. When there were no schools in villages, and even in cities and towns they were a few and far between, madrasas were gathering children for early education where they were given elementary lessons in religion and the emphasis was on moral and social values. These facts can still be confirmed from the text books prescribed in Madrasas. Thus in the early age when the children would have strayed into bad habits falling into the company of street urchins they were led into the social mainstream. Some of them went for higher madrasa education which was quite in the fitness of things and some others took to the professions they were taught and trained in according to the madrasa syllabus, some others whose sources and resources permitted went to the modern schools and colleges. Those who went for the higher madrasa education included men of great calibre and high character. Many of them played leading roles in the freedom movement. So the blames piled upon madrasas are highly unjustified. Is it the reward for their sharing of the social burden which governments failed to carry? The abounding violence in the society is, in effect, a reaction of the deprived sections against the social injustices. Education, especially that with moral contents, invokes a vision which penetrates through the facade raised by the evil elements holding the whole society to ransom. Sincerity and dedication to a cause inculcates a boldness that can stand up against all odds. So how can an individual or institution be accused of rebellion if a voice is raised against social injustice. But there is nothing new about it nor unheard of in history. We had Mahabharata and many uprisings during the centuries of Moghul rule and many other such episodes in the history of other countries including Muslim and Christian ones. What makes the difference at this point of time is the vicious practice of seeing everything from a communal prism. Thus the events involving the madrasa students of the past or present are interpreted in a way different from those involving others. This is a conscious and well planned effort to keep segments of society divided and involved in confrontations, for their united force will cause the same blow to the evil forces which forced the alien rulers out.

The difficulties are manifold. The evildoers have money. They can buy power and space and time in print and electronic media which unfortunately have an outreach much wider than the proper education. They coalesce in misguiding the ill-informed masses. They have a vested interest in the business. Then, who is to be blamed.
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