ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Minds That Are Influenced

An intolerant BJP and its followers target a college principal for sharing his views on electoral choices.

The comment that took the cake and ate it too came from Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman in Delhi. “If he is trying to influence the minds of students who have come to learn from his institution”, she said about Father Mascarenhas of St Xavier’s College, Mumbai, “then it is certainly wrong”. Just a minute: exactly what happens when we send our kids to schools and colleges? When they run into teachers and researchers, principals and librarians in those institutions? When they listen to lectures by or get into conversations with all these people? That is right: our children’s minds get influenced. In fact, that is precisely why we send them there. In fact, that is even a reasonable quick definition of the whole process of growing up, of learning, of education: our minds get influenced. Period.

You influence your daughter’s mind when you tell her stealing is wrong. Her mathematics teacher influences her mind when he teaches her the Pythagoras theorem. Her principal influences her mind when she tells her that the college has a dress code. This is trivial stuff that nobody would argue with, probably not even Sitharaman. So why does she suggest that it is “wrong” for this principal to “influence the minds of students”?

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