The Maharashtra government on Tuesday ordered that school students across the state must recite the Preamble to the Indian Constitution, during their morning assemblies from January 26, NDTV reported on Wednesday. School Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad made the announcement.
A state government circular said that reading out the Preamble is part of the “sovereignty of Constitution, welfare of all” campaign. “Students will recite the Preamble to the Constitution every day after morning prayers so that they understand its importance. It is an old government resolution, but we will implement it from January 26,” Gaikwad, a Congress MLA, told reporters in Mumbai.
A government resolution in this regard had been adopted in February 2013, when the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party government was in power. The present government is an alliance between the Shiv Sena, Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party.
Gaikwad said the move was first envisioned in 2009 and will now be implemented to familiarise schoolchildren with the Constitution, The Indian Express reported. The education minister has asked divisional officials to periodically review the implementation of the order. Both primary and secondary schools have to follow the directive.
Incidentally, groups of people protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act have recited the Preamble, which says that India is a “sovereign, socialist, secular and democratic republic”. It also aims to “secure justice, liberty, equality to all citizens and promote fraternity to maintain unity and integrity of the nation”.
Earlier this month, speaking at a “Students Against CAA and NRC” conference, Gaikwad had assured those present that the state government would try its best not to implement the Citizenship Amendment Act, the National Register of Citizens and the National Population Register.
On Wednesday, Gaikwad told ANI: “If a child reads Preamble every day and takes oath, he understands that he is a citizen of India. Similarly, he should understand the things laid down by the Constitution and learn those values.”
Citizenship Amendment Act, NRC and NPR
The Citizenship Amendment Act provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. The Act has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims, leading to protests against it. At least 26 people have died in the protests – 19 in Uttar Pradesh, five in Assam and two in Karnataka.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear a batch of over 140 petitions supporting and opposing the Citizenship Amendment Act.
The National Register of Citizens is, on the other hand, a proposed exercise to identify and distinguish undocumented immigrants from Indian citizens. One such exercise, carried out in Assam last year, led to the exclusion of 19 lakh people.
As first reported by Scroll.in, the NPR is the first step to creating an all-Indian National Register of Citizens which would identify undocumented migrants residing in India. Till now, West Bengal and Kerala have suspended the NPR, while five Congress-ruled states are mulling similar action.