Row Over Christian-Centric Dating System In Tamil Nadu Education; Christian MLAs Say Religion-Neutral Dates Is Against Interests Of Minorities

Textbooks in Tamil Nadu

Recently the Tamil Nadu textbook society, while reformulating the content and syllabus of the textbooks, had replaced the terms BC (Before Christ) and AD (Anno Domini - In the year of our Lord) with BCE (Before Common Era) and CE (Common Era). Dalit law maker Ravi Kumar who belongs to the Viduthalai Chiruthaikal Katchi (VCK) – a TN version of Dalit Panthers) had claimed credit for the changes, pointing out that he had raised the issue back in September, 2006 – when even the National Council for Educational Research and Traning (NCERT) was yet to adopt the changes. Kumar had emphasised the need 'to have a secular view of history' and 'not have it be Christ-centric.' Talking to news media yesterday (29 June), he said that he considered this change as a victory for his efforts to have genuine secularism in education system.

However Christian lobby in the political and educational system seem to have the last laugh over the changes.

The Tamil Nadu government has declared its decision to revert to the system of using ‘Before Christ (BC)‘ and ‘Anno Domini (AD)‘. It is not clear if the use of the term AD, actually violates the beliefs and rights of students who do not believe Jesus to be their Lord or those who question the very existence of Jesus as a fiction. Internationally educationists, respecting the rights of the different religious people and atheists, have decided to replace the terms BC and AD, a colonial hangover in countries like India, with the terms BCE and CE.

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In a show of communal unity transcending party barriers, I S Inbadurai of the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) representing Christian dominated Radhapuram constituency joined hands with Congress legislator J G Prince (representing Colachel). They called the change a “historical mistake” and said that the secular change was “against the interests of minorities”. Before the show of such communal solidarity the secular state government bowed its head and decided to retain the Christianity-centric colonial system of dating. Once again the Church has shown that through clever vote bank politics and lobbying it can use Indian pseudo-secular polity to have control over secular walks of life in India including education.

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