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Mainstream, VOL LII No 12, March 15, 2014

What Textbooks do in Gujarat

Saturday 15 March 2014, by Humra Quraishi


BJP chief Rajnath Singh sounds like a typical bluff-master when he quips that he and his party are sorry for the ‘mistakes’ committed against the Muslims. A bluff which is so horribly crude that one should not waste a second harping on it. This time there is little use of masks and related ploys this political outfit uses for deception. In fact, as I’m keying in, I’m reminded of what the former DGP of Gujarat, R.B. Sreekumar, had told me during the course of an interview: ‘In several of its rallies, the BJP uses Muslim symbols—burqas, skull caps, prayer beads-with the intention of falsely showing Muslim presence!’

Moving ahead, the election scenario seems moving along the expected lines. The so-called leaders running here and there, trying to grab votes. SP’s Mulayam Singh tried inching towards the Aligarh Muslim University under the garb of addressing a seminar but before he could set foot on the university campus there were strong protests by the students and teachers. With that, the seminar cancelled and Mulayam’s entry stopped. And here in the Capital city the BJP’s Narendra Modi is making an entry this week. Striding into the Habitat Centre. Supposedly to launch two books and also to talk of what his State is doing for the welfare of women. Remember, next week it is Women’s Day and so who can let go of that apt opportunity! I wish someone in the audience could show Modi the blatant gender bias and factual blunders in the textbooks taught to children in his State. Mind you, these books in the syllabi are published and printed by his State Government.

Modi’s own knowledge of the basic historical facts and factors is pathetic and now he is doing the unpardonable—relaying factually twisted and wrong information to the school children of Gujarat. In fact, his government is also trying to indulge in what the earlier NDA-led government had done at the Centre, with the then HRD Minister, Murli Manohar Joshi, trying to twist facts pertaining to the minority comm-unities. In this context, the textbooks in the State of Gujarat are trying to omit some impor-tant facts. A recent news report carries this vital input—‘Apart from gender stereotyping, instances of gender bias abound. The chapter on the Supreme Court in the social science textbook does not mention the first woman SC judge, Justice M. Fathima Beevi …’

Moving still ahead on what politicians of the day are doing in terms of spreading out, the AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal addressed Muslims at the India Islamic Cultural Centre. He spoke of the disasters that communal politics drags along and together with that focused on the communal politicians. In fact, Kejriwal nailing Modi, calling Modi ‘communal’, can be termed a master-stroke; it has paved way for Kejriwal’s connect with the largest minority community of this country.