Gujarat declares Navratri vacation amid protests

Gujarat declares Navratri vacation amid protests
In this Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016 file photo, Indian students of Swaminarayan Gurukul in traditional attire practice Garba, a traditional dance of Gujarat state, ahead of Hindu festival Navratri in Ahmadabad, India. Navratri or nine nights festival will begin from Oct. 1. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki, File)

Gandhinagar:  The Gujarat government, citing students’ and parents’ demand, has declared a seven day vacation in state’s schools and colleges, during the dance festivities of Navratri, even as many from the civil society have asked the government to change its decision.

The Gujarat government on Saturday had announced a seven day vacation starting from August 15 to 21, in the state’s schools and colleges, for the Navratri festival.

Minister of State for Education Vibhavriben Dave said: “Government has decided that all the schools and colleges of the state will have a mini vacation from (August) 15th to 21. Today the Garba festival has garnered global recognition. So that the youth can enjoy the Garba freely, this decision has been taken. This also is the time when the students examination are held and they are worried about their studies. That’s why we have taken this decision.”

Many educationists and members of the civil society have criticized this move by the government.

The Gyati Nirmulan Committee, Ahmedabad has written a letter to Governor O.P. Kohli and the Chief Minister Vijay Rupani to change this decision, as it will affect children’s studies.

“Constitutionally, we are secular. So the state or country does not have a religion and it should not encourage or push for any religion in particular. Besides that, this decision will also affect the education of the children,” said Sanjay Parmar, the regional convenor of the Committee.

Meanwhile, on Monday, Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel, while reaffirming the stand on the decision said: “It was the students’ as well as parents demand for the vacation during Navratri festival.”

The BJP has blamed the demand for revoking the decision on the Congress.

Party spokesman Bharat Pandya said: “This decision was taken after many demands. During the Vice Chancellors’ meeting it was decided that without affecting the studies, changes can be made. After having consulted them, the government decided.

“Navratri has become synonymous with Gujarati culture. I don’t know why Congress has problems with our culture. They always seem to have problems with the development of Gujarat, now they are having problems with culture of the state.”

State Congress president Amit Chavda said the government should have taken broader consensus before unanimously declaring vacations since this would affect education of children as well as their exams.

“We have not said anything about Gujarati culture at all or religion… this is BJP’s deliberate creation,” he said.