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What does secularism mean? Hindi textbooks have different translations

The Maharashtra government seems to be unsure of what the accurate Hindi translation of the English word ‘secular’, as mentioned in the Preamble of India’s Constitution, should be. The education department’s Hindi textbooks for the year 2016 carry two different versions of the word in books for different classes.

According to the Hindi textbooks published by Maharashtra State Bureau of Textbook Production and Curriculum Research, which are available on state government’s e-balbharati website, ‘secular’ has two Hindi translations: panth nirpeksh and dharma nirpeksh .

On Sunday, The Hindu had shown that Hindi textbooks for Class VI use panth nirpeksh instead of dharma nirpeksh in the Hindi translation of the Preamble. Government officers had informed this newspaper that the translation was as per the Hindi translation of the Constitution made available on the website of Ministry of Law and Justice (Legislative Department).

Speaking to The Hindu , State Education minister Vinod Tawde had said that the said change was not ordered by the government and that it had been made a year before.

Interestingly, though, Hindi textbooks available on the website for Class VII and Class VIII for year 2016 still carry the translation as dharma nirpeksh . No reason was offered for this discrepancy.

A senior officer from Balbharati, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that such changes were only in new books which were introduced after the curriculum revision. “The old books with unchanged curriculum seem to have gone for printing without any change.”

Opposition parties expressed their outrage in no uncertain terms.

“This is absolutely shocking that this government has not been able to put down the constitution’s preamble in correct words,” former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said. “First of all the BJP must explain as to when secularism was converted in to panth nirpeksh in the Hindi version. Have they changed the constitution silently?” He added, “They can amend the Constitution if they want, since they are in power. But it has to be done through discussion and voting. It cannot be done through backdoor means.”

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief spokesperson Nawab Malik said that the government was pushing forward the saffron agenda of the Sangh pariwar . “ ‘Panth’ means sects of Hinduism. This is nothing but a step towards Hindu rashtra [Hindu nation]. The pariwar does not consider any other religion worth mentioning and hence it is trying to infuse such words in the Constitution’s Preamble. The party will take up the issue with the government.”

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2021 4:14:54 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/news/what-does-secularism-mean-hindi-textbooks-have-different-translations/article8554079.ece

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