Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated on October 30, 1948.
Japan launched a nuclear attack on the United States during World War II.
A new country named ‘Islamic Islamabad’ was constituted after Partition with its capital at ‘Khyber Ghat’ in the Hindu Kush mountains.
All South Indians are ‘Madrasis’.
These aren’t examples of bloomers from some third-rate tourist guidebook, but gems from history in social science textbooks that have been fed to 50,000 Class 6-8 students of government-run English-medium schools in Gujarat.
The textbooks were put together by a panel of experts from the Gujarat Council of Educational Research and Training (GCERT) and Gujarat State Board for School Textbooks (GSBST), who decide the curriculum.
These were the same textbooks in which a chapter on the life and times of Prime Minister Narendra Modi was proposed, only to be shot down by the BJP leader himself.
The state government has woken up and appointed a panel of experts drawn from private schools to review and revise these textbooks.
Official sources say new and revised textbooks will be out in the market in time for the new academic session.
The error-ridden books have, however, been used to teach impressionable students till now.
Mistakes and bloomers weren’t the only problems with the textbooks.
Instances of what social scientist Achyut Yagnik calls the “intellectual poverty” of the textbooks’ anchors abound.
The creation of stereotypes seems to be an aim. According to the Class 8 Social Science textbook:
“People in east India wear clothes above ankle as there is more rainfall. Ladies wear sari in a peculiar manner.”
It says the majority of people in eastern India reside in “houses made of wood and bamboo”.
The textbook goes on to say: “Idli and dosa are famous in south India.
Translated from Gujarati
Unbelievable? Here’s another: “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 lacs years ago in India.”
That these textbooks are translated from their Gujarati equivalents, and poorly at that, stands out.
According to Samir Barua, former director of Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, who was drafted by the state government back in 2001 to review the textbooks after he wrote a series of newspaper articles about the bloomers in them: “The authors of Gujarat school books are not competent.”
The base material, he said, is always in Gujarati and the translators are of poor quality.
Yagnik also points to the lopsidedness of these books.
“The National Curriculum Framework 2005 was never implemented by Gujarat and there is a political bias here.