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Updated: February 26, 2014 10:45 IST

A textbook case of howlers in Gujarat

Darshan Desai
Comment (21)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
IN THE LAND OF THE FATHER: ''Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated on October 30, 1948.'' This is just one among factual mistakes and historical half-truths galore in the Social Science textbooks for classes 8, 7 and 6, produced by the Gujarat government. File Photo
The Hindu Archives IN THE LAND OF THE FATHER: ''Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated on October 30, 1948.'' This is just one among factual mistakes and historical half-truths galore in the Social Science textbooks for classes 8, 7 and 6, produced by the Gujarat government. File Photo

Govt. won’t withdraw Social Science books abounding in mistakes

Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated on October 30, 1948. Japan mounted a nuclear attack on the United States during World War II. After Partition, a new country called ‘Islamic Islamabad’ came into being with its capital Khyber Ghat in the Hindukush mountains. All south Indians are “Madrasis.”

These are among factual mistakes and historical half-truths galore in the Social Science textbooks for classes 8, 7 and 6, let alone grammatical and spelling errors, produced by the Gujarat government.

Still the Gujarat State Board for School Textbooks will not withdraw thousands of copies being fed to as many as 50,000 English medium primary school children. It will at best release errata on the Internet.

GSBST Executive President Nitin Pethani told The Hindu: “There is no question of withdrawing the textbooks. There is no major issue but only mistakes of translation. A two-member committee of Gujarat Children’s University Vice-Chancellor Harshad Shah and Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Vice-Chancellor Manoj Soni will study the books. Once the committee’s report comes, we will release the errata.”

‘Intellectual poverty’

“The books reflect the intellectual poverty of the authors,” asserts social and political scientist Achyut Yagnik. “This is not new with the present set of textbooks, the situation was similar with even the earlier versions,” he told The Hindu.

The class 7 book clubs the Rath Yatra of Puri among south Indian festivals. In the same breath, it has been included with Onam and Diwali in Kerala, Bharatanatyam of Tamil Nadu and Kuchipudi of Andhra Pradesh.

The book has even more interesting descriptions of life in eastern India. “People in east India wear clothes above ankle as there is more rainfall. Ladies wear sari in a peculiar manner.”

According to the textbook, most people in eastern India reside in “houses made of wood and bamboo.”

Samir Barua, former director of Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, who was engaged by the Gujarat government in 2001 to review textbooks after he wrote articles pointing to glaring mistakes, says, “The authors of these books are not competent at all.”

Poor translation

The reason why these textbooks are full of errors is that the base material is in Gujarati and it is translated into English. Even a cursory reading shows that the translations are very bad, he says.

Mr. Barua may not be wrong. Here is a sample: “You might have heared, read and seen that the Earth is round. Whereas, you stay on the Earth, you cannot come to know the shape of Earth; because the Earth is too much vast. Why we do not feel that the Earth is round? Is the Earth really To whom it is like? Just imagine, round? The Moon-uncle is telling. ‘Come on to my surface and see from the edge. The travellers of the space had taken the photographs of the Earth from the space — see it”

This is from the class 6 textbook. One more instance: “The man found grains like wheat, jav etc. automatically in the various part of India’s soil. So the people of India [in that time] collected and preserved that grains for food. They met each other often and often and often, and so ‘Socialism’ increased. We are getting the residues of premature mankind since 20 lakhs years ago in India.”

Says Mr. Barua: “It is unfortunate that after one year of effort I put in, nothing of what I suggested was implemented. The entire exercise seemed to be to pacify me so that I don’t make more noise about the mistakes. I entrusted physics and chemistry books to subject experts, while I myself edited the entire maths textbook. I did it honorary for, I was appalled at the quality of the books.”

Analysing the situation, Mr. Yagnik said, “The Gujarat government never bothered to implement the National Curriculum Framework of 2005 and there is a clear-cut political bias in the textbooks.” He says the GCERT books have only a paragraph on 350 years of Mughal rule in India, while they wax eloquent on the Solanki and Vaghela dynasties in Gujarat.

The first semester textbook of class seven has a chapter on the medieval age but only one paragraph on Mughal rule. And that too speaks of how Mahmud of Ghazni plundered “India and Saurashtra.” His name has been spelt as Mohammad.

@Ramakrishna: Read the paragraph carefully, no one talks about praising Mughals.

from:  Arjun
Posted on: Feb 28, 2014 at 15:16 IST

Any news on Bihar and UP boards??

from:  Anoop P Vijayan
Posted on: Feb 28, 2014 at 11:16 IST

When the CM of that state is making mockery of history, geography and economics
in almost every speech, then what to expect from the professors.

from:  KARAN
Posted on: Feb 27, 2014 at 16:59 IST

The Hindu should follow up with reports about text book howlers from
other (particularly, secular) states as well.

from:  kvjayan
Posted on: Feb 27, 2014 at 10:23 IST

This is the story of Hindutva that RSS wants to preach to children to take them backwards.If the people of India vote for Modi then they will more of these.Longlive India's foolishness.

from:  Nasar
Posted on: Feb 27, 2014 at 08:01 IST

A student has got a right to an error-free, well-written textbooks. Prof Yashpal in his report " Learning without Burden' has spelt out that a badly written textbook and a dull classroom are worse burdens much more than school bags. It is not only in trnslation but in content there are errors. Dates cannot be translated wrongly.

from:  ssrajagopal
Posted on: Feb 27, 2014 at 04:55 IST

Even if it is a translation mistake, how will January 30 become October
30th?
Translator might lack vocabulary, at times. But, these guys lack general
knowledge. They lack common sense!

from:  Mukundan R
Posted on: Feb 26, 2014 at 22:59 IST

Because the authors are idiots, liars & uninformed, means that the students who read their garbage will turn out to be like them. Shame on the State Board for not immediately removing these fictional books replete with idiotic errors! These board members must be removed before they do any more damage to the students & to the nation.
Concerned citizens should examine each & every state in India as to their curricula & boot out the offending parties if their books & method of teaching don't meet the proper & sane requirements.

I guess some people can't help being idiots but they have no right to spread their idiocy!

from:  Maya Rochlani
Posted on: Feb 26, 2014 at 22:32 IST

Judging by the standard of English of the commentators here, it seems most of them have been educated in Gujarat.

from:  S Simeon Pillai
Posted on: Feb 26, 2014 at 22:12 IST

It doesnt surprise me that this comes from land Ruled by a Cheif
Minister who in his, exercise to gain votes called the father of the
Nation - Mohanlal Karamchand Gandhi.

The authors of these books are not competent at all. How can they be
competent, when the cheif minister is an idiot on Indian History. A
Ruler should know the basic History -at least- to rule a country

from:  Mohamed
Posted on: Feb 26, 2014 at 21:52 IST

Gujarat model! We can replicate this for the whole of India, if Modi
becomes the next PM. Then India will be shining! We will become a super
power!

from:  rafa
Posted on: Feb 26, 2014 at 21:17 IST

The Hindu has decided to oppose Narendra Modi without a open mind.
Anything and everything that is found wrong in gujrat is linked
with Modi and his PM candidature. The penultimate line of this
news is the last line. Mughal rule was not praised.

If Hindu is not going to demean Modi for his unproven role in
Gujrat riots why should any praise Mughal rule ? We have historical
evidences to show that Mughals plundered India.

from:  Ramakrishna
Posted on: Feb 26, 2014 at 19:21 IST

This is mockery in the name of imparting education in Gujarat. If those responsible, are not ready to rectify the mistakes committed in the books vis a vis the father of the nation then one can well imagine their attitude had mistakes been in case of other leaders. Competent authorities should come forward and intervene in the matter, to get the factual and derogatory mistakes fixed. By the way, are these kinds of commissions and omissions, citizens would be witnessing if Mr. Modi happens to become the next prime minister? God forbid.

from:  Murtuza
Posted on: Feb 26, 2014 at 18:03 IST

The Hindu must look at its home ground first. Let us retrospect before
talking about Gujarat.
It sound as if other states like TN have very well translated quality
text book.

from:  C Narayanaswamy
Posted on: Feb 26, 2014 at 17:46 IST

If it is true then Gujrat is really shining !!! Great example of Vibrant Gujrat.

History is being interpreted by different school of thought by different ways but if wrong information about the historical events are provided then it is a crime and its degree is higher than killing people. So in my opinion Modi is really progressing.

from:  Aniruddha
Posted on: Feb 26, 2014 at 17:41 IST

Its impossible to have a committee of two persons. By definition a committee must have more than 2 members.

from:  J.S.Acharya
Posted on: Feb 26, 2014 at 15:51 IST

Now i understand the speech of Narendra Modi.

from:  imam
Posted on: Feb 26, 2014 at 12:27 IST

Glaring mistakes. Can't be accepted.

from:  Hameed Hussain
Posted on: Feb 26, 2014 at 12:06 IST

It is pity that in many states of India, the State Government bring out textbooks for high school students not only poor in mother tongue and English, and the quality of the books is so bad that one-third of them are rejected by the students. It is an irony that India suffered at the hands of "the English" for two hundred years, and now "English" should suffer at the hands of India for eternity. How could you stem the rot? Even at the University level, the standard is so poor. It is not an exaggeration that the standard of Ph.D. scholars in India not even up to K8 students in US in terms of their proficiency in English. Politicians are not all bothered about such intellectual matters.

from:  Louis S. Venugopal
Posted on: Feb 26, 2014 at 10:01 IST

Nitin Pethani says there is no question of withdrawing these text books.
It says everything about the condition of the educational system in
Gujarat. And it shows what happens when someone's intellect is
substituted by arrogance and stupidity. A place or a system will never
change for the better if the people are unwilling. If what is mentioned
in the piece here is what the kids in Gujarat are learning, when they go
out to the world, they will be mocked at. People like Pethani must be
lashed in public.

from:  Balagopal P. Menon
Posted on: Feb 26, 2014 at 09:59 IST

If Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated on
October 30 1948, then aren't we murdering
the mahatma again? And this is no big deal!
This 'Madrasi' will never understand Indian
textbook mechanisms. When they talked about
rather ultra of Puri, I wonder why they left
out the chapati yatra? I am enlightened that
people in eastern india wear dresses.

from:  A.Manimaran
Posted on: Feb 26, 2014 at 09:49 IST
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