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Page last updated at 15:38 GMT, Friday, 21 May 2010 16:38 UK

India Christian schools protest over 'Hindu move'

By Zubair Ahmed
BBC News, Mumbai

Classroom in India
The authorities want more recognition of Hindu culture

Christian schools in the Indian city of Mumbai (Bombay) have opposed a proposal by civic authorities to promote Hindu culture in classrooms.

They argue that plans to introduce Hindutva culture - or the Hindu way of life - into missionary schools is unconstitutional and unfair.

The proposal is now being considered by the Maharashtra state government.

The body which runs the 150-odd Christian schools in Mumbai is now preparing to take legal action.

Archdiocesan Board of Education (Abe) General Secretary Gregory Lobo told the BBC that his schools promoted respect for all faiths and there was no need to focus on a particular faith.

Most Abe schools are considered prestigious and are known for their academic excellence.

They receive financial help from the Mumbai Municipal Corporation, which put forward the new proposal during a review of financial help given to these schools.

A right-wing Hindu coalition comprising the Shiv Sena party and the Bharatiya Janata Party runs the corporation.

On Tuesday the authority asked schools, among other things, to teach pupils about Hindu traditions and increase the number of holidays on Hindu festivals.

It also urged schools to allow Hindu students to wear clothes associated with Hinduism as well as bangles and bindis - a decoration mark mostly found on the foreheads of Hindu women.



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