Leader of Kerala's numerically strong Hindu Ezhava community Vellappally Natesan has said girls and boys sitting together in classrooms was "against Indian culture" and "breeds anarchy".
He was responding to queries from media persons in Kochi on Sunday regarding the Left Democratic Front government's gender neutral policy of same uniforms for both girls and boys and in co-ed schools where students of both sexes are taught together.
Natesan, considered to be very close to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, said, "We (SNDP) are not in favour of girls and boys sitting together in classrooms. We have a culture of our own. We are not living in America or England."
"Our culture does not accept boys and girls hugging and sitting together. You do not see this happening in educational institutions of Christians and Muslims," the SNDP general secretary said.
He, however, said such things are happening in educational institutions managed by the Nair Service Society (NSS) and Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam (SNDP). NSS and SNDP are two major Hindu caste outfits in the state.
Such behaviour "breeds anarchy" and you can see that in the colleges managed by Hindu organisations, he said and added that it was one of the reasons why such institutions do not get good grades or funding from the University Grants Commission.
He further said that those below 18 years of age or young adults in colleges should not be sitting together and hugging each other when they are still studying.
Once the children grow up and attain maturity, they can do whatever they want, Natesan said. However, children sitting together, and hugging each other is not desirable in India and it is dangerous, he said.
Natesan also said that it was unfortunate that the LDF dispensation was succumbing to religious pressure, despite calling itself a secular government, and not sticking to some of its decisions oft late.
"It sends a wrong message to society," he said.
He was referring to the recent government announcement that it was not going to decide what uniforms children should wear or whether they should attend mixed schools after facing criticism from various Muslim organisations regarding their gender neutral education policy.