The Hijab Controversy | Who is Right? | Karnataka | Dhruv Rathee

Hello, friends!

When I was in school or college,

the only thing we students used to worry about was what we’d get for lunch.

Or how much we scored on a test.

Or which teacher’s class do we have next?


things have deteriorated so much that

in some areas of the country,

students are now fighting in the name of religion.

These students are now worried

about who’s wearing a hijab,

and who’s wearing orange.

These students are worried

who’s chanting ‘Jai Shri Ram’

and who’s proclaiming ‘Allahu Akbar’.

The division in the country has spread so deep,

The news claims that in several schools and colleges in Karnataka,

hijab has been banned,

due to which, many girls are not allowed to enter into colleges,

they’re not allowed to study.

They protested against it,

and in its response, some people started a counter-protest

by wearing a saffron shawl.

In some places, these protests turned into slogans,

in some places, the girls were harassed.

And in some places, we even saw instances of stone-pelting.

Things have gotten so out of control,

that the Chief Minister of Karnataka had to decide

close the schools and colleges for 3 days.

Everything that happened was truly embarrassing.

And to understand it better,

we need to go to the roots of the problem.

Let’s start with clearly differentiating between a hijab and a burqa.

This is a hijab.

This is a burqa.

People often mix up the two

but it is important to know they are different.

Because the burqa has been banned in many countries across the world.

For security reasons.

Even including some Muslim countries,

where it was banned.

But hijab is a head covering for Muslims,

and today’s video is specifically

focused on hijab only.

The entire issue here,

that is being discussed in media and social media,

can be divided into two questions.

First, is the hijab right or wrong?

And the second,

the girls that wear a hijab,

should they be stopped from going to schools and colleges?

It’s very important to see the 2 questions distinctly.

Because people often mix them up

leading to confusion,

and we can’t reach a solution.

So let’s focus on the first question first.

Is hijab good or bad?

People who argue in the favour of the hijab,

those who support the practice of wearing hijab say that

the hijab is an undeniable part of
their tradition, culture, and religion.

And it is there in the Indian Constitution,

that every citizen has the right to practice

and promote their religion peacefully.

So it is their right to wear the hijab.

It is their right bestowed by the Indian Constitution.

But with every right in the Indian Constitution,

there are some reasonable restrictions.

Generally speaking,

there can be reasons for the restriction of any freedom,

such as a threat to the sovereignty of India,

a threat to India’s security,

or the public order is being hampered,

or it is a contempt of court,

or it is violating decency or morality.

These are the reasons that are cited

for imposing any restrictions on a fundamental freedom.

But wearing a hijab,

is it a threat to the security of the country?


Is it terrible for morality?

Is it slight to decency?

Is it adversely affecting public order?

Nothing of the sort.

No one is getting hurt simply because a woman chooses to wear a hijab.

It doesn’t affect anyone’s life.

That’s why it’s not a threat.

On the other hand, what are the arguments against it?

People that are against the hijab say that

it is a symbol of patriarchy.

Most women don’t wear a hijab because they choose to do so,

rather, they wear it because

their family, their community surrounding them,

force them to wear this.

If they don’t wear the hijab,

they wouldn’t be accepted or included in their community.

And that they would be harassed.

They’d be either forced to comply

or would be treated as second class citizens.

This is similar to what people say about Ghoonghat. [Veil; traditionally Hindu]

And it does have a point.

Because we witnessed several protests in multiple countries where

thousands of women took to the streets,

to protest against compulsory hijab.

A recent example is the 2017-2019 Iranian protests.

Women didn’t want to be forced to wear a hijab compulsorily.

The argument here is about Women Empowerment and Freedom of Choice.

Unfortunately, friends, in our country,

the people who are against the hijab the most,

they want neither women empowerment,

nor want to give them the freedom of choice.

They are against the hijab merely because

of their blind hatred for this religion.

That’s why they want to assert their dominance,

and want to impose their will.

You can see a live example of it in this video,

where a group of boys

harassed a girl, who was alone, wearing a hijab.

Had these boys truly wanted women empowerment,

they wouldn’t have been shouting or threatening the girl.

But anyway, if we return to our two sides of the argument,

both have their merit.

So who is in the right here?

Let’s look at this from the perspective of the government.

What should be the ultimate purpose of a government?

The government should strive to

socially integrate people as much as possible.

That they live together in unity and harmony.

And at the same time,

they get as much freedom as possible.

That the people be free to do what they want,

that they have a freedom of choice,

as much as possible.

What should be done to achieve this?

People should be allowed to wear their religious clothes,

people should be able to wear their religious symbols and their traditional clothes,

would people be able to live together happily while being socially integrated then?

Or should religious symbols be completed banned?

And everyone should be made to wear the same kind of clothes,

without representing their religion in their clothes,

would people be happier then?

It has no straightforward answer.

That’s why different countries have different approaches to this.

It’s the same with hijab.

Should women be given the freedom to wear the hijab?

But how would we know that the women are wearing it of their own free will?

That they aren’t being forced to wear the hijab by their family and community?

It is very difficult to know this.

For this reason,

different countries have different approaches

and different types of secularism.

The fundamental meaning of Secularism is

to be neutral to all religions.

This philosophy began in Europe.

At a time when the Chruch and the Monarchy,

governed the people together,

in those countries.

The Church was heavily involved in government matters.

In state affairs.

To get rid of this, secularism was conceptualised.

To separate the Church and State.

The Chruch wouldn’t interfere in the day-to-day governing affairs,

and the State wouldn’t interfere in the religious affairs.

I will talk about this in detail in the video on the French Revolution

it’ll be released a few weeks later,

so be sure to watch it then.

But as a consequence of this,

all the public institutions in the European countries,

They were ordered to eradicate religion from their premises.

To stay away from it.

Media, public schools, colleges,

bureaucracy, political parties,

none of them should have anything to do with religion.

On the other hand, the concept of secularism in India,

was much different than this.

In India, the church wasn’t interfering in state affairs.

Rather, the ideologies of tolerance and co-existence had been prevalent in India.

In India, Jainism, Buddhism,

Sikhism, Islam, Christianity,

were all present.

More or less, they lived together.

There were the Sufi and Bhakti movements,

that helped foster a feeling of brotherhood among people.

They taught people to live in harmony.

Many people are credited for it.

Including Baba Farid, Sant Kabir Das,

Guru Nanak, Mira Bai,

and even rulers like Akbar.

Because of these reasons,

the Indian version of secularism,

was on the basis that all religions are equal.

Equality among them was a must.

So that we may lead with unity in diversity.

Mahatma Gandhi was influential in this idea.

He believed that India is a highly religious society.

People follow religion earnestly.

And that it wouldn’t be possible to implement the French version of secularism here.

That’s why we need to implement a kind of secularism,

where people could follow their religion,

and could live together harmoniously.

As the consequence, we saw that

in countries like India and America,

the kind of secularism that’s practised,

is known as Soft Secularism.

That the government,

wouldn’t be averse to religion completely.

It would include religion by supporting all religions equally.

It would support religious activities,

but equally.

This is the reason that we see the examples where,

the Indian government sends people to the Hajj Pilgrimage,

it forms the Amarnath Shire Board,

and a major example of this would be,

Delhi Government’s Teerth Yatra Yojana in recent times.

Where people of all religions can go on pilgrimage to the sacred sites in their religion.

The government is paying for it.

The government is basically promoting religion in a way.

But it is promoting all religions equally.

Behind the ideology of Indian secularism,

there were great people involved.

If you want to know more about them,

I’d recommend some audiobooks on KUKU FM,

on Mahatma Gandhi, Swami Vivekananda, and Samrat Ashoka.

You can understand their ideologies in detail in those audiobooks.

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Let’s return to the topic now.

On the other hand, the secularism practised in France and some other European countries

is known as Hard Secularism.

Or the Negative Secularism.

The government tries to distance every public institution from all religions.

That’s why any sort of religious dress,

or any kind of a religious symbol,

is often banned.

Countries like France have banned hijab from schools

and the highest court of the European Union,

has stated that in the European countries,

it is up to the employers, if they want, they can ban hijab in their workplace as well.

It is up to the companies, basically.

In France, this is so widespread that

there was a case 7 years ago in which,

pork was been served at a French school,

to the students,

and obviously, Muslims don’t eat pork,

but that day, students had only pork to eat for lunch.

So the parents of some students called up the school to say

that they don’t consume pork as they’re Muslims,

the school replied by saying that

the students have no other choice than to eat pork.

If they’ve been served pork, every student needs to eat it.

That no religious restrictions would be entertained in the school.

Whether you are vegetarian because of your religion, or anything else,

the students would have to eat what the school serves.

If you find this example to be extreme,

some countries have moved much further into hard secularism.

Like China.

In China, churches are literally demolished,

and the crosses are removed from the churches.

They’ve jailed thousands of pastors.

And it is being said that more than 1 million Muslims in China

are being sent to “Reeducation Camps.”

To politically brainwash them.

This is the extent to which the Chinese government hates religions.

If we look at the original definition of secularism,

that the government shouldn’t interfere in religion at all,

China has gone in the other direction, so much so that

perhaps China can’t be called a Secular country anymore.

The question here is which model is better?

The Indian-US version of secularism?

Or the French-European version of secularism?

It has no straightforward, easy answer.

I’d ask you this, what do you think?

Which model would be better for India?

Should India adopt the French model?

Comment below and let me know.

If the French model is implemented in India,

It would mean that not only the hijab would be banned,

even the turbans for Sikhs would be banned,

any sort of religious threads wouldn’t be allowed.

A complete ban on Bindi and Tika.

Apart from this, any sort of religious prayers wouldn’t be held at schools,

whether they are Hindu prayers or Christian prayers.

And obviously, this would be valid for every public institution in addition to schools.

Even people in the government wouldn’t be able to wear any religious dress or symbol.

It wouldn’t be possible in media or bureaucracy either.

Can you imagine this?

Honestly, there are pros and cons to both models.

What are the cons of the French Model of secularism?

We see its disadvantage in terms of social integration.

There have been several reports from France,

these state that since France has banned the hijab in schools and colleges,

the social integration of Muslims in society has taken a plunge.

The Muslims have become excluded from society.

To understand this, you have to understand the consequences first.

Imagine if the hijab is banned in India,

then realistically, what would happen then?

Oftentimes, the girls that wear hijab,

are from families to whom religion is very important.

Often, religion trumps education.

In such cases, if hijab is banned from schools,

what would happen?

The girl might be withdrawn from the school.

She wouldn’t be allowed to go to school anymore.

Or send her to some other religious school.

And if there are no religious schools nearby,

the parents may not allow the girl to go to school at all.

They may get their daughter married off

and build a new future for her.

It is basically robbing the girls of their opportunity of getting an education.

Some of you may say,

what’s so difficult about it?

They can simply take off their hijab before coming to school.

But in reality, when a child

when a young girl is going to school or college,

she isn’t taking her decisions on her own.

It is often the parents that decide for her.

On the other hand, if the hijab isn’t banned,

and hijab-wearing girls are allowed to go to schools and colleges,

those girls can then complete their education.

They’ll get educated and perhaps then,

after they get an education,

they’ll teach their next generations, their children, about the freedom of choice.

And wouldn’t let hijab be forcefully imposed on them.

The point about patriarchy,

that the girls are forced to wear a hijab,

the solution to this is through women empowerment

for which there is a dire need for education.

This is a complex paradox.

But I believe that it is very true for Indian society.

What do you think?

As I told you,

each model has its pros and cons.

So there are some cons of the Indian version of secularism as well.

The first disadvantage is that

Where do we draw the line?

If it is allowed to go to school in hijab today,

tomorrow, someone can wear a burqa to school.

It will be their freedom of religion.

And tomorrow if I say that

I am starting a new religion,

and in my religion, it is allowed to go to school in a bikini as well.

So someone may wear a bikini to school.

How can we stop this from happening?

What would be the reasoning for this?

And the second disadvantage is that

because it is very difficult to draw a line here,

it becomes much easier to politically exploit people.

To incite people and get them to fight among themselves over religion,

it becomes easier here than in the French model.

And we are seeing it happen nowadays.

People are using religions and clothes, to fight.

Students are fighting.

What is the solution to this?

Both sides should come together and calmly discuss it

to peacefully arrive at a solution.

And if it fails,

the High Court or the Supreme Court should be given the task.

To draw the lines and make the rules.

About what is allowed and what isn’t.

It isn’t difficult to do this.

But the problem arises when

some organisations try their best to incite the students.

To get them to fight their classmates over religion.

Because it’s election season.

A Hindu-Muslim issue needs to be fabricated asap,

because if people aren’t distracted with these issues,

people would start thinking about things like inflation and unemployment.

And it would be disastrous for the politicians.

They want people to keep fighting amongst themselves over petty things.

So that the people are busy with this.

One needs to think

which organisation was it

that was distributing the orange scarves to the boys?

That was telling the boys

to gather in a group and start harassing the girls?

To chant the slogans of ‘Jai Shri Ram.’

It wouldn’t be that the boys came up with the idea on their own,

To gather there wearing the same orange scarves.

I remember, when I was in school,

when students were told to wear a white shirt,

there used to be so many shades of white shirts.

To see more than 3 boys wearing the exact same shirt

would’ve been very rare.

And here, more than 100 boys,

are given saffron scarves that look the same.

This is the job of an organisation.

These students haven’t done this on their own.

Someone has tried to provoke them.

The Karnataka government gave a very disappointing response.

Because they didn’t try hard enough to stop this.

This isn’t new.

Since December, there were efforts to

provoke people and start a fight in the name of religion.

We saw some cases in Karnataka,

where the people from an organisation entered a school or college

and started stopping Christmas celebrations.

This wasn’t a one-off incident.

There were 7 separate incidents.

Christians were attacked before this.

What was the action by the government?

Does that government want such incidents to continue?

It is a very important question that needs to be pondered on.

And if the government truly wants to increase social integration in the country,

so that everyone can live together peacefully.

That there is unity in the country.

That there is freedom of choice

and women empowerment.

The government should take apt decisions then.

Thank you very much.

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