Archbishop of Bhopal Leo Cornelio: Opposed to chanting Jai Hind
It may be recalled that the Madhya Pradesh Government has issued a directive to all the government school students to response the attendance roll call with ‘Jai Hind’ with an honest intention to inculcate patriotism among them. But the Catholic Church leaders have taken objection to this directive.
The Catholic Church leaders felt that national pride should develop naturally and not to be forced on anyone.
According to a report in ucanews.com, a Catholic website, Leo Cornelio, Archbishop of Bhopal who is also the head of the Bishops’ council in the region, said that this was a misplaced idea of patriotism. “This (imposing Jai Hind) is a misplaced idea of patriotism”, he said commenting on the May 15 order of the MP Education Department making ‘Jai Hind’ compulsory for government schools from the start of the new academic year beginning June this year.
‘Jai Hind’ is the most commonly used slogan since the days of India’s freedom struggle. It was the greeting slogan of the ‘Azad Hind Fauz’ of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. It was coined by Netaji’s most trusted Major Abit Hasan Safarani. Since then it is used as patriotic greeting slogan. Even the Muslims do not have objection to using this. It is an official greeting slogan of the Muslim Rashtriya Manch (MRM).
But the Catholic Christian leaders see to this slogan from a communal angle. They feel that the word ‘Hind’ in this slogan is shortened form of Hindustan (land of Hindus) and thus excluded India’s religious minorities such as Christians. Hence they are opposed to this slogan.
This is in spite of the Madhya Pradesh Government, run by the Bharatiya Janata Party that the Catholic Church considered ‘Nationalist’ and does not want it to come to power again, exempting the private schools and Church run schools in the state from adhering to this new practice, as per the ucanews.com report.
Madhya Pradesh is divided in nine Catholic dioceses and they together run over 500 schools in the state, mostly in tribal and backward dominated regions.
Archbishop Leo felt that this order of the government was ridiculous. “It is ridiculous”, he said adding that when all the schools already saluting the national tricolour and singing the national anthem daily in schools, the ‘Jai Hind’ slogan was not at all required.
The Archbishop further said that such demands were made to push the skewed sense of nationhood which negated the idea of inclusive society that accepted people of all religions and cultures.
Archbishop Leo said, “Government schools have students from various religious communities and that such slogans, instead of promoting patriotism, would create divisions by implanting notions of religious discrimination in young minds”.
Leaders of religious minorities such as Archbishop Leo have been complaining more widely over the BJP’s pro-Hindu dominance policies and stances.
Father Babu Joseph, former spokesperson of the national bishops' conference now based in Madhya Pradesh, said patriotism — a sense of pride in being a citizen of nation — should develop naturally rather than being forced on people.
"But in this case, a particular ideology is promoted in the name of patriotism," he said. "It is not desirable, especially in schools."