'Architects suggested saffron': CM Bommai on color-coding of Viveka classrooms
Amid controversy over the decision to color classrooms under the "Viveka" scheme with "saffron," Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai has claimed the color was suggested by the architects and does not have any "political intentions." Opposing the Bharatiya Janata Party-led (BJP) Karnataka government's move, Congress has said that the state-funded classrooms should be rather painted with the colors of the national flag.
Why does this story matter?
Congress leaders charged the BJP with "politicization of the education system" by painting Viveka classrooms in Karnataka with saffron—the color that symbolizes renunciation—which has become the identity of Hindu nationalist BJP's politics. Notably, Karnataka's Department of School Education and Literacy didn't reveal the decision to paint classrooms with saffron earlier. The BJP claims the move to choose this color was "inspired by Swami Vivekananda."
Bommai accuses Congress of politicizing issue
Following objections by Congress over painting classrooms under the Viveka scheme "saffron" in Karnataka, Bommai insisted that they were politicizing the issue, "which is not right." He said it has nothing to do with politics, but Hindu monk-philosopher Swami Vivekananda was the "inspiration behind saffron being chosen." "Congress is always unhappy when they see saffron color [which is in the national flag]," he said.
What are Viveka classrooms being painted with saffron?
The Karnataka government is constructing 8,100 new classrooms across the state in government-run schools and named them "Viveka classrooms" after Vivekananda. Their design and size will reportedly be the same across all schools. The scheme, which cost the government Rs. 992 crore, was launched in Kalaburagi district on Monday (November 14; Children's Day). Under this scheme, old and non-functional classrooms will also be renovated.
Congress questions government's priorities, pitches for national flag colors
Meanwhile, Congress said the government should have prioritized fixing "crumbling infrastructure," teachers' shortage, and increasing dropout rates over "painting walls." Priyank Kharge, Congress's Karnataka communications chief, said rather than painting classrooms with saffron, the BJP should paint them with the colors of the national flag. He said, "You [BJP] claim to be the most nationalistic party in independent India so paint it in tri-color."
What do educationists and experts say about color coding?
On the other hand, some educationists and experts have also accused the government of using Swami Vivekananda for their "political agenda." Dr. VP Niranjanaradhya, a development educationist, asked why "religious symbols" are being used in secular institutions, as per The Hindu. He said that "child-friendly and learning-enabling classrooms" are needed with thematics, pictures, and flora and fauna of a region, besides other student-friendly paintings.