Kochi, Dec 30: In a country like India, which is home to people belonging to numerous religions and castes, it is not easy to stand out from the crowd. In Kerala, which is currently embroiled in religious conversion and other communal controversies, an 18-year-old boy shows the way by daring to go off the beaten track.
On December 26, Jishnu M Kumar, a student at St. Aloysius college in Alappuzha district, uploaded a copy of his plus-two certificate, the religion column of which says 'No Religion'.
Jishnu says, "In this country, where religious fanatics kill each other in the name of god, my father taught me to live without the backing of any religion. I lived for 18 years without a religion".
The photo has already been shared on social networking sites over 1500 times.
In Alappuzha, at least 41 people from Christianity converted to Hinduism under the initiative of Vishwa Hindu Parishad, or VHP, a rightwing Hindu organisation.
The programme, known as Ghar Vapsi, is conducted by Hindu organisations claiming the ancestors of many Christian, Muslim families were Hindus.
Amidst controversies and protests, VHP has been asserting that no forcible conversions were taking place in the state. Another batch of people will convert into Hinduism at a function on January 1, they have said.
In the past
In 2008, Kerala was caught in another controversy, thanks to a specific chapter in social science textbook for the VII standard (Read here).
Organisations like Kerala Students Union (KSU), the students wing of the Congress party, the opposition United Democratic Front (UDF), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Christian church and organisations, the Muslim clergy and organisations and the Nair Service Society (NSS), a dominant caste organization agitated against the then government led by Left front, alleging that the text book content propagated atheism and communism.
The chapter titles 'Freedom of belief' or 'Religion-less Jeevan' spoke about why religion shouldn't be imposed on individuals.
In the chapter,an imaginary situation of a child Jeevan coming to a school with his parents seeking admission is depicted. When the headmaster starts filling the admission form for the child, he finds out that the father of the child is a Muslim and the mother, Hindu.
To fill the column of religion, the headmaster seeks the ask him to leave the religion and caste columns blank. When asked if the child wishes to have a religion when he grows up, the parents tell him that the child has the freedom to choose his religion.