The Perspective of Mudaliar Commission and Education Policies of Independent India

Sadath Hussain studies the circular issued by the Department of Education, Government of Gujarat to introduce the Gita in the schools of the State, in the perspective of the Mudaliar Commission as well as the Education policies of Independent India. The perspective of Kothari Commission will be published in the next issue.

Mudaliar Commission (1952-53) in Chapter 8, part 3 of the report clarified the idea of secular state and said, “The state as such should not undertake to uphold actively, assist, or in any way to set its seal of approval on any particular religion.” On the issue of religious instruction in education the commission said that no person belonging to a particular religion should be compelled to take part in the religious education of the other.

The commission recommended, “In view of the provision of the Constitution of the secular state, religious instruction cannot be given in schools except on a voluntary basis and outside the regular school hours; such instruction should be given to the children of the particular faith and with the consent of the parents and the managements concerned.”

The commission also discouraged the unhealthy trends of disunity, rancour, religious hatred and bigotry in schools.

Report of the Committee on Religious and Moral Instruction (1959):

During those days when the new nation state was about to be formed and after the formation of a nation state, the issue of religious education was debated a lot. In Wardha Commission (1939), Radhakrishnan Commission (1948), Mudaliar Commission and during Constituent Assembly debates this issue was widely debated. The Government of India in 1959 formed a 17-member committee under the leadership of Shri Sri Prakasaji. The committee is known as “The Committee on Religious and Moral Instruction”, which was also known as Prakasaji Committee. This committee was constituted for the following objectives:

  • “To examine the desirability and feasibility of making specific provision for the teaching of moral and spiritual values in educational institutions.”
  • “If it is found desirable and feasible to make such a provision (a) to define broadly the content of instruction at various stages of education, and (b) to consider its place in the normal curriculum.”

For the first time for the teaching of other than secular subjects the committee advised to avoid the term religious education and suggested to use education of the “moral and spiritual values”. The reason behind using this term was of non-controversial nature of proposed terms unlike “religion” which has “certain unfortunate association.”

The commission said, though the etymology of the “Religion” is to bind but over the years due to emergence of many religions the binding generally happened between the same religions. Religion, instead of spreading love and mutual cooperation, had spread conflict and hate. The commission also acknowledged the positive aspects of major religions of India.

It was also observed that due to the British policy of “strict neutrality” the commission observed that India’s young generation faced moral crisis like indiscipline, rioting, murder, etc. The commission found, to address this issue and develop inner discipline and strength of character among the Indian Youth was necessary. The existing constitution has clear ideas on the engagement between religion and the state in Articles 28 and 30 of the Constitution.

The commission said, “The articles enjoin that no one will be compelled to attend classes on religious education in any institutions whatsoever. Minorities, whether based on religion or language, are given full rights to establish educational institutions of their own choice.” For these constitutional reasons the commission proposed “moral and spiritual values in educational institutions” and not “religious education”.

Earlier in 1946 the Central Advisory Board of Education had advised that the imparting of moral and spiritual education should be the responsibility of the home and community. In 1959 this commission responded that, leavening this process entirely to the home and community is “unsatisfactory”. Leaving this to the home and community has resulted in the ignorance of other religions and also about one’s own religion.

The commission added that the approach of CABE 1946 has resulted in political and social factors. The commission said, “Different religious communities came to live in isolation from each other without caring to know the fundamentals of religions other than their own.” Further they added, “This unfortunate ignorance of other faiths often accompanied by a limited understanding of one’s own religion, bred prejudices and contributed to disunity.”

Keeping the importance of diversity of religion in the national context, the commission advocated the objective, comparative and sympathetic study of all the religions of the country. They added, by knowing the basic ideas about all the important religions of the country one can eradicate the ignorance and prejudices of the other religions. This will help in establishing brotherhood.

The commission recommended, “Various religions should be made the subject of study, and every facility given for the followers of different faiths in the country, to know each other better by knowing each other’s inner thought and aspiration.”

The commission further recommended:

  • The teaching of moral and spiritual values in education is desirable and the state should give specific provision.
  • Include comparative and sympathetic study of the lives and teachings of great religious leaders and followed by including their ethical system and philosophies.
  • The commission also seconded the proposal of University Education Commission (1948) which is also known as Radhakrishnan Commission on the issue of introducing religious education.
  • Suitable books will be prepared for all stages (schools to university) which include the basic ideas of all religions as well as the essence of the lives and teachings of the great religious leaders, saints, mystics and philosophers.
  • As part of extracurricular activities, invited lectures will be arranged for inter-religious understanding.
  • Teaching good manners and promoting the virtues of reverence and courtesy which are badly needed in the society. For this the commission suggested to implement traditional ways of learning proper conduct from such teachers.
  • The commission interlinked moral and value instruction with physical education and recommended making physical training compulsory.
  • The state must be cautious while defining the content of moral and spiritual instructions. “Such teaching should enlighten the student, promote mutual understanding and respect among persons of different faiths, and contribute to national unity.”

Roadmap to implement:

Elementary Stage:

  • Introduction of School Assembly.
  • Including the stories about the lives and teaching of prophets, saints and religious leaders in the syllabus of language teaching.
  • Use of technology (Audio-visuals, photographs, etc) to show the great works of art and architecture closely connected with the religious world.
  • Explaining the stories from different religions of the world and drawing ethical teachings out of it. Dogmas should be excluded from the stories.

Secondary Stage:

  • Reading religious scriptures or great literature of the world in the Morning Assembly.
  • Including simple texts and stories of different religious texts in the languages and general readings.
  • One hour lecture in a week on moral instruction by the teachers or invited lecturers. In this the “knowledge and appreciation of religions other than one’s own and respect for their founders, should be encouraged in various ways including easy competitions and declamations.”
  • Social service activities during holidays.
  • Including character and behaviour of the students is an essential part of overall assessment of a student’s performance at school.

University Stage:

  • Silent group meditation in the morning on a voluntary basis with encouragement.
  • General study of the various religions should be part of general education classes of UG.
  • Implementing the recommendations of Radhakrishnan Committee.
  • Introducing PG courses on comparative religions and history of religions.
  • Introducing a long period of social service in universities.

By making the above recommendations and roadmap for the implementation of moral and spiritual instructions, the commission was in favour of comparative and sympathetic study of religions and the teaching of their underlying philosophies and ethical codes.

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