At a time when people are judged on the basis of their religious affiliations, two Kerala leaders have demonstrated that there is an alternative, by refusing to give a ‘default’ religion to their children. On the school applications of the children of CPI(M) MP MB Rajesh and Congress MLA VT Balram, the religion column shows a very conspicuous blank.
The two young leaders took to Facebook on Thursday to announce proudly that their children had been admitted to government schools and the column asking for the child’s religion had been left blank.
VT Balram, the Congress MLA from Thrithala, wrote, “As part of public education, I have enrolled my son Advaith Manav into the Arikkad Government LP school near my house. In the column that asked for his religion and caste, we said he doesn’t have any. When he is an adult, he is free to choose his religion.”
In MB Rajesh’s case, this is apparently the second time that he has chosen to not fill the religion column for his children.
He wrote on Facebook, “I have written 'no' in the column for religion and caste. I am proud that I have done this at a time when the state is celebrating the 100th anniversary of Panthibhojanam.”
Panthibhojanam, or a community feast, was a historic event that unraveled in Kerala 100 years ago, in which members from various castes were brought together for a feast.
“This ‘Pravesanolsavam’, through which thousands of toddlers take their first step into the world of letters and knowledge, is the biggest and most popular festival of the state - a festival of knowledge that can be celebrated by everyone irrespective of the barrier of caste or religion,” he said.
Rajesh with his daughter
Rajesh also shared the reason why he got his child admitted to a government school and not in the Kendriya Vidyalaya seat allotted to children of Parliamentarians.
“My second daughter Priya Detta has joined first standard in the East Yakkara Government Lower Primary School. My elder daughter Niranjana is studying in the eighth standard at the Government Moyans Girls Higher Secondary School in Palakkad,” he wrote.
“I have admitted my children in government schools by giving up the seats allowed through MP quota in Kendriya Vidyalaya. Kendriya Vidyalaya is also a government run institution, but there is no scope of learning Malayalam. My faith lies in the quality of the public education system, and the attempts made by the government to revamp the education sector prompted me to admit my children in government schools. The decision is also backed by my memories and experiences as a public activist from the time I was a student.” the post said.
Hundreds of people who wrote back on these Facebook posts said that perhaps it’s time for all to take a leaf off these leaders’ books.