Anna University, Chennai. (Image source: @aufastupdates) Photograph:( Twitter )
DMK President and Leader of the Opposition MK Stalin tweeted, 'It is condemnable that there is an attempt to impose Sanskrit by making the Indo-Western Philosophy Course compulsory in the College of Engineering, Guindy, Anna University Campus'
Following the row over alleged imposition of Bhagwad Gita and Sanskrit on students of Tamil Nadu’s state-run Anna University, Twitter users in the region have started trending the hashtag 'ThirukuralForTamilNadu’, referring to the 1330 sacred classic-Tamil couplets, written by Tiruvalluvar.
Politicians and party-affiliated student groups in the state also reacted after reports surfaced in a section of the media stating that Bhagwad Gita and Sanskrit language were being imposed in the government-run institution by introducing a compulsory philosophy course.
DMK President and leader of the Opposition MK Stalin tweeted, “It is condemnable that there is an attempt to impose Sanskrit by making the Indo-Western Philosophy Course compulsory in the College of Engineering, Guindy, Anna University Campus."
News agency PTI quoted, CPI(M) State unit secretary K Balakrishnan as saying, “This is against the principles of secularism. Introducing the teachings of a particular religion in a syllabus studied by students from all faiths and the state government standing by that is not acceptable”.
A joint statement issued by the All India Federation of University and College Teachers Federation (AIFUCTO), Tamil Nadu Science Forum (TNSF), Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), Students’ Federation of India (SFI) and Tamil Nadu Progressive Writers’ and Artists’ Association (TNPWAA) said that they stand against the introduction of such a subject in engineering courses.
The statement said, “It is unfair to include a religious book followed by one particular religion in a university syllabus. This will offend the beliefs of the followers of other religions. Such religious books can be taught in theosophical colleges, but not in a university or college, which is against the secular principles framed by the Indian constitution.”
"India is a secular country. The Indian constitution encourages all citizens to develop a scientific temper and self-examining nature. Any secular government will not force a religious text on students in any college because it is against the law and the constitution", the statement added
Speaking to reporters, Vice-Chancellor of Anna University, M K Surappa said, “There is no compulsory course in the institution and that there is no question of imposition. The AICTE has suggested 22 courses under Model Curriculum under humanities, social science and liberal arts. The courses are intended to make the students well-rounded besides their technical education. Of the 22 courses ranging from film appreciation to ethics, values, the Anna University has only selected 12 courses, as we do not have faculty to teach all 22.”
During the four-year course, the Undergraduate students are required to take five of the 12 courses selected by the University. “As two of the five courses are English language courses only three humanities courses have to be taken. Philosophy is one among the 12 courses and only The Information Science and technology (IST) department has chosen the course. The Philosophy course covers Greek Philosophy and Western Philosophy as well. If a student is not willing to take the course, he or she is free to take the other courses”, said the Vice-Chancellor when question about the alleged imposition of Bhagwad Gita.
“There are hundreds of courses in Samskrita Bhaasha listed by AICTE, we have not chosen that among those 12 and there is no question of imposition on any student. This a technological university and there is a wide choice of courses. Similar Philosophy, Social science and ethics Courses were introduced long ago in IITs”, he added.