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The pupils do yoga, eat vegetarian food and are calm and alert. But critics say the rise in religious education is divisive and wrong
Pupils arrive at the Krishna-Avanti Primary School in north London, where their daily routine includes yoga and healthy snacks of fresh fruit and veg
the Krishna-Avanti Primary School in Harrow, Britain's first state-funded Hindu faith school, which opened its doors last September.
It is one of the latest in a growing number of non-Christian faith schools. And its opening coincides with unprecedented levels of government funding for faith-based education, despite polls suggesting that public support for state-funded faith education is dwindling.
Since Labour came to power, faith schools have broadened from being almost exclusively Christian to include Muslim, Sikh and now Hindu institutions.
Staff at the Krishna-Avanti stressed that indoctrination is not the school's aim. Naina Parmar, the headmistress, said: "We're certainly not here to proselytise the Hindu faith" – despite morning prayers and yoga being followed by a reading of the Bhagavad Gita.
The children here have a vegetarian diet with plenty of yoga and outdoor play. The mid-morning snack is a piece of fruit or raw vegetable – in fact, this may well be the healthiest class in Britain. The effect is impressive: all of the children seem calm and alert beyond their years, listening intently to their teacher.
Officially, applications are open to all but priority is given to vegetarians and Hindus; there are currently no non-Hindus on the register.
CHANGANASSERY: The budget session of the Nair Service Society (NSS) reiterated its demand for a rollback of the proposed Travancore-Cochin Hindu Religious Institutions (Amendment) Bill, 2009.
When no such meddling was happening with institutions or worship centres of other religions, it was improper for a government to gain control of Hindu worship centres and institutions alone, and also violated the provisions of Article 26 of the Constitution, it was pointed out.
Here is why: There are 57 member-countries of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), and all of them put together have around 500 universities; one university for every three million Muslims. The United States has 5,758 universities and India has 8,407. In 2004, Shanghai Jiao Tong University compiled an ‘Academic Ranking of World Universities’ , and intriguingly, not one university from Muslim-majority states was in the top-500.