Since Independence Christian run schools have been praised for providing a very high standard of education in India. This is important in a country that lacks a coherent welfare net and where illiteracy remains a massive hurdle to development and social mobility. Hence the voluntary sector takes up the slack and provides much needed community services such as education, medical care and other mechanisms of support.
However the flip side is a lack of accountability and transparency about what many areas of how this voluntary sector operates. This is especially the case with the much lauded school system run by various Christian missionary organisations which account for a large percentage of the NGO sector.
Hence the disturbing phenomena of recent years where there have been reports of Hindu students being banned from wearing tilaks or any other sacred symbols outwardly like aum pendants or red strings around the wrist especially on Hindu religious days. They are also pressured, even if it is subtly, to take part in singing Christian hymns and celebrating Christmas and other Christian festivals. At the same time the religious edicts of the schools mercilessly crush any celebration of Hindu festivals such as Holi and Diwali. Is there a hidden agenda to convert ? Dr Koenraad Elst explains.
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