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  Opinion   Edit  10 Aug 2017  Respect freedom of choice

Respect freedom of choice

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Aug 10, 2017, 12:16 am IST
Updated : Aug 10, 2017, 12:16 am IST

Freedom of choice is also by definition a fundamental freedom, a foundational principle that must be recognised and respected in a democratic country.

Supreme Court of India (Photo: PTI)
 Supreme Court of India (Photo: PTI)

It’s on a technicality, really, that the Supreme Court dismissed the PIL seeking to make yoga compulsory in schools across India. The court noted that it was not the judiciary’s job to frame the school curricula, that was the government’s task, with the help of experts. It was also reassuring to hear that unlike the fundamental right to education, there couldn’t be a “right to yoga”. That’s the crux of the argument. It’s also not appropriate for the government to insist on yoga. Seventy years after we shook off the British colonial rule, we’re still struggling to define our freedom, that should really also include the individual’s freedom of choice. That’s not understood very clearly as India celebrates a freedom milestone next week.

It’s one thing to mandate respect for the national anthem by judicial diktat, even if it’s restricted to filmgoers, given that we are observing 70 years of Independence, but to say Vande Mataram should also be compulsorily played in all institutions in a state may be stretching things too much. Yoga may be highly recommended as a form of physical exercise that may benefit practitioners, but so too could visits to the gym or the practice of tai chi, taekwondo or silambattam. How such activity could be introduced in the school curricula unless it’s just one of many activities, including sport and dramatics, and offers students the choice of participating, is open to question. Freedom of choice is also by definition a fundamental freedom, a foundational principle that must be recognised and respected in a democratic country.

 

Tags: supreme court, yoga, right to education