In a fresh confrontion with the central government, the West Bengal government issued “urgent” instructions to all schools and other educational institutions to “stop all preparations” for celebrating Independence Day 2017 in a format prescribed by the Union HRD Ministry. The Mamata Banerjee government’s response to the circular issued by the Human Resource Development Ministry came in the form of a directive to all District Project Officers in-charge of the Sarva Shikha Mission in the state.
Virtually negating the Union ministry circular for celebrating the 70th year of India’s independence with certain “additional participatory activities in schools and colleges”, the state government directive issued on on August 11 noted: “It has been decided by the School Education Department that Independence Day 2017 will not be celebrated in this manner” and asked schools to carry on with their usual mode of celebrating the occasion like every year.
Claiming that the people of Bengal do not need lessons on patriotism from the BJP, state Education Minister Partha Chatterjee on Sunday said the centre’s ruling party has no right to give instruction to others about how Independence Day should be celebrated. “We are not necessarily opposing the centre’s proposal. But we have said that we will celebrate in our own way. We will not take lessons on patroitism from the BJP. The party at the centre has no right to give whip and dictate others about patriotism,” Chatterjee told IANS. He also said the ministry’s proposal of videographing celebrations in all the schools in the state is not realistic and can not be followed.
“It is not possible to conduct the proposed videography of the celebration of the entire 2 lakh schools,” he said. Stating that there was nothing new in the circular, Chatterjee, also the Trinamool Congress Secretary General, said it was not needed as most of the points mentioned there were already a part of Independence Day celebrations in all institutions in the state forr many years.
“There is no counter circular from us. But we have said that we do not need an MHRD circular on how to celebrate Independence Day. Independence Day will be celebrated in schools, colleges, offcices and factories in Bengal this year in the same way it has been celebrated over the last 69 years,” he asserted.
The minister said the Central government should have “properly notified” the state authorities if they were planning a special Idependence Day celebration this year. The Human Resource Development Ministry had issued a circular on July 25 to all state Education Secretaries specifying “additional activities” to be undertaken by schools under the Sarva Shiksha Mission to celebrate Independence Day in a “befitting manner”.
It asked every school to arrange a “Sankalp programme” from August 9 to August 30 and organise an oath-taking ceremony where all teachers and students would have to take a vow to rid the country of the five problems of poverty, corruption, terrorism, communalism and casteism by 2022, when the nation would be celebrating 75 years of freedom.