Indian National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) has introduced a new curriculum under which ancient Indian knowledge and heritage, including Gita, Ramayana will be taught in about 100 madrassas across the country. The decision by India’s Union Ministry of Education to include Hindu religious books Ramayana and Gita in the curriculum in madrassas has been strongly opposed by Muslim religious leaders and intellectuals. Muslim clerics have so far refused to accept the new curriculum of NIOS, an autonomous institute under the education ministry. They believe that NIOS has no power to take decisions on the madrasa curriculum. Nazim (chairman) of 350-year-old Lucknow-based Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Farangi Mahal, Maulana Khalid Rasheed, who is also a member of All India Muslim Personal Law Board said the purpose of establishing madrasas is to strictly impart Islamic education. “There are two types of madrasas in India; ones governed by the Madrasa Board and others run by the community on its own. The madrasas governed by the Board are bound to implement its decisions but others are independent to take their own decisions,” Rasheed said. “NIOS, which comes under the education ministry, has no right to issue any direction to independent madrasas,” he asserted. The new curriculum introduced by NIOS will first be implemented in 100 madrassas across the country. Later, the programme will be extended to over 500 madrassas in India, as per the chairman of NIOS. Apart from teaching Ramayana and Gita, the curriculum includes Hindu therapies like Patanjali, yoga exercises, Surya Namaskar, while practical exercises include cleaning cowsheds. The Hindu nationalist party BJP believes that students studying in madrassas are taught fundamentalism and extremism so they should be taken out of it and brought to modern education so that they can live a ‘dignified’ life and the problem of unemployment can also be solved by providing modern education.