Sri Sri Ravishankar retracts his statements

By: | Updated: 21 Mar 2012 08:48 AM


New Delhi: Amid
protests and criticism spiritual Guru Sri Sri Ravishankar retracted his
statement on Wednesday evening by referring to only to ‘sick’
government schools, which have become breeding grounds for Naxalism.

His
earlier comments were condemned by educationists and ministers today as
"unfortunate and illogical."

"I did not say that all government
schools (where lakhs study) breed Naxalism. Great talents have emerged
from these schools and I would never generalize. I specifically referred
to sick government schools in Naxal affected areas. Many who have turned
to Naxalism have come from these schools. The Art of Living is running 185
free schools in such areas. I urge more institutions to join this effort
to spread peace through education,” clarified Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.


Union Human Resources Development Minister Kapil Sibal expressed
surprise at the remarks and posed a question as to whether people in high
positions in all walks of life who have studied in government schools are
Naxals.

Addressing a function in Hindi at a school near Jaipur
last evening, Ravishankar said government should privatise education and
close state-run schools as they breed Naxals.

"Government ko koi
school nahi chalana chahiye. Aksar paya jata hai ki government school se
padhe hue bacche hi is tarha naxalvad me hinsa ke marg me chale jate
hai"(Government should not run any school. It is often found that boys
studied in government schools go into Naxalism and violence).

The
Art of Living founder, who is also popularly called Guruji, had also said
that all government schools should be privatised.

"I feel that
all the schools and colleges should be privatised and handed over to some
other Sanstha (organisation). Such things are not in the boys of private
schools and they (from private schools) move ahead with an ideal and
teachers are responsible for it," he added.

Rajasthan Education
Minister Brijkishore Sharma said Ravishankar's remarks were unfortunate
and uncalled for.

Around 50 people including students of
government higher secondary school at Jhalana in Jaipur, their guardians
and other locals burnt an effigy of Ravishankar in front of the school.
They demanded an apology from the spiritual guru.

People's Union
for Civil Liberties (PUCL) while criticising Ravishankar demanded legal
action against him.

Asked by newsmen in Delhi for his response,
Sibal said people who are in the highest positions in the government and
outside government, members of the judiciary and former Presidents have
studied in government schools. "Can it ever be said that they are all
naxalites," he asked.

Sibal said he would give a "benefit of
doubt" to Ravi Shankar "because I do not think even temporarily a person
would be inclined to say such a thing because it would be such a sweeping
statement that no individual having a sense of balance would make such a
statement."

When contacted, Tripurari, a local spokesperson of
Art of Living in Jaipur said Ravishankar's sense was that Indian cultured
schools like Adarsh Vidhya Mandir produce well cultured students who lead
life with an ideal and they never follow the path of violence.

"Guru
Ji's point was simple that education should be privatised. He did not
intend to link government schools and education system run by the
government to naxalism or any such activity," he said.

Sharma
said Government schools have been functioning for a long time and produced
very talented youths and whatever Ravishankar has said is unfortunate and
not acceptable.

"As far as Rajasthan is concerned, we do not find
any example as said by Ravishankar. The concept of private school is a new
concept and earlier, students used to study in government schools only,"
he told.

Protesting against Sri Sri Ravishankar's remarks,
members of teachers' outfit 'Rajasthan Shikshak Sangh' burnt his effigy
near Birla auditorium before arrival of the spiritual guru.

Ravishankar
was scheduled to attend a function there to mark the birthday of BJP
leader and Rajya Sabha MP Ramdas Agrawal.

Volunteers present at
the main gate of the auditorium were involved in a heated argument with
the protesters but the police managed to defuse the situation.





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First Published: 21 Mar 2012 08:48 AM
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