Saturday, November 12, 2005

Government acts but just not enough


The reports that the Department of Education intends to withdraw the 10-page chapter entitled “Present Currents of World History” from the Std. IX Social Science Textbook and intends to revise the English Medium Textbook….though a significant step, is not sufficient.
In a painstaking research and expose, PRASHANT highlighted that the Textbook contains :
Historical inaccuracies, distortions and serious omissions Communally biased statements against Christians and Muslims Strong anti-women bias Important personalities of the country like Mahatma Gandhi have not been given their due place Blatant idolizing of Hitler Factual discrepancies Atrocious language with grammatical errors Serious judgments, insinuations and warped suggestions
Most of the above aspects are also found in the Social Science Textbook of Std. VIII .
The School Textbook Board in an attempt to defend itself says that what has crept into the books are “mainly translation errors”. This is definitely not true because exactly the same biases are found both in the Gujarati and English Textbooks. Besides, both the Textbooks, Std. VIII (in 2004) and Std. IX (2005), have been published for the first time, hence, there is no question of any mistakes being “passed on for the past three decades”.
PRASHANT continues to demand :
The total and unconditional withdrawal of the Gujarati and English Textbook That only competent and unbiased professionals are appointed to the “expert panel” for the revision of the Textbook. That the names of the “expert panel” are made public in keeping with the “Right to Information Act” That the Education Department ensures quality education to the children of Gujarat.
Some of the recent press reports
Revision of error-ridden books begins (Times of India)
GANDHINAGAR: The Gujarat government has appointed a new committee headed by a senior Central School representative stationed in Gandhinagar to revise all the English medium textbooks from class 8 to 12.
Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan assistant commissioner Sathyamurthy and a group of Central School teachers will be looking into errors related to content, grammar and concept.
"They will complete the job by the end of this year," said education principal secretary P Paneervel here on Friday. New textbooks will be available by February 2006.
Paneervel said, "The problem of errors in content and grammar arose because all the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) textbooks have to be first translated into Gujarati with necessary modifications, taking into account the local milieu, and then retranslated into English."
He added other states adopt the same policy. The state officials have held two round of meetings with Sathyamurthy who has selected some of the best teachers to do the job in all subjects.
"We have decided to put the English language textbooks on our website, so that those who notice any mistakes can correct us," Paneervel said.
The mistakes, he regretted, were being passed on for the past three decades.

Israel envoy in Gujarat to counter state’s Hitler praise (Indian Express)

Appalled that Gujarat’s school textbooks sing praises of Adolf Hitler, the Israeli Embassy plans to communicate its displeasure to the Modi government. The embassy also plans to enlist the support of Germany which has declared Nazism and Holocaust as the most unfortunate episode in its history.
Israel’s Consul General Daniel Zohar Zonshine, here to inaugurate an exhibition ‘The Courage to Remember: The Holocaust 1933-45’, said that the representation of Hitler in Gujarat’s textbooks was ‘‘misleading’’ and bringing the exhibition here was an effort in educating people about the brutal reality of the Holocaust.
‘‘Personally, I feel offended, and publicly, the representation has caused anger and unhappiness at the twisting of facts,’’ said Zoshine who lost many of his own relatives in the Holocaust.
He declined to give details but confirmed that the initiative to communicate displeasure to the state government was official, and that it would include writing to the state government.
‘‘We are exploring options, coordinating and exchanging views on this,’’ he said. ‘‘It could also be a joint effort with the German embassy.’’
‘‘At a time when even Germans call it the most unfortunate episode in their nation’s history, it’s really bad if Hitler is extolled so far from his land. You just can’t say Hitler was generally good, say with economy and administration, and bad here and there with the Jews and the Holocaust. Gujarat values education, so we decided to contribute our part by putting things in the right perspective,’’ he said.
When his reaction was sought, Gujarat Education Secretary P Paneervel said that they would comment later. According to Zoshine, the fact that United Nations has decided to mark January 27 every year as Holocaust Remembrance Day shows how important it is to remember Hitler’s brutalities.
The exhibition has 40 panels and over 200 photographs collected by Nazi hunter Simon Weisenthal, who died this September 20.
Mum on Holocaust, books praise Hitler
VADODARA: The Gujarat board’s Std IX social studies textbook is silent on the holocaust and glorifies Hitler. ‘‘Hitler adopted aggressive policy and led the Germans towards ardent nationalism... In thinking of Nazism, there is coordination of nationalism and socialism.’’
And the Std X social studies textbook says: ‘‘Hitler lent dignity and prestige to the German government in a short time by establishing a strong administrative set-up.’’ Mentioning holocaust only in passing, it has a subtitle reading ‘Internal Achievements of Nazism.’ ‘‘He (Hitler) adopted a new economic policy and brought prosperity to Germany. He made untiring efforts to make Germany self-reliant within one decade.’’

Israel protests Hitler praise in Indian schoolbooks (DPA) 11 November 2005

NEW DELHI - Israel is planning to protest a western Indian state's move to include references in school books that glorify Adolf Hitler, a news report said Friday.
The Israeli Embassy is planning to communicate its displeasure to Gujarat state, appalled that the school textbooks "sing praises" of Hitler, the Indian Express reported.
The state is ruled by the Hindu rightist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Israel's Consul general in Bombay, Daniel Zonshine said the representation of Hitler in Gujarat's textbooks was "misleading".
"Personally, I feel offended, and publicly, the representation has caused anger and unhappiness at the twisting of facts," Zonshine was quoted by the paper as saying.
Zonshine said the protest could include writing to the state government. "We are exploring options, coordinating and exchanging views on this."
He added Israel plans to get the support of Germany. "It could also be a joint effort with the German embassy," he said.
The controversy concerns a Class X text book of the Gujarat Education Board that is silent on the Holocaust and glorifies Hitler. In a section on "Internal achievements of Nazism", the school book states; "Hitler adopted a new economic policy and brought prosperity to Germany. He made untiring efforts to make Germany self reliant within one decade".
The Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) has also demanded the textbooks be withdrawn, stating the books are full of prejudices and hatred towards religious minorities.

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