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No Fear No Favour

After Referring Jesus As “Haivaan”, Gujarat Textbook Now Refer “Roza” As Cholera.

Months after another Hindi standard textbook was found to have an offensive adjective with Jesus, (in the Std IX Hindi textbook he was referred to as a ‘demon’) the printer’s devil has reportedly caught up with the Gujarat State School Textbook Board, again. In a “printing error”, Roza or fasting during the Islamic holy month of Ramzan has been explained as “an infectious disease in which one suffers from diarrhoea and vomiting” in a Class IV Hindi textbook of the Gujarat State School Textbook Board (GSSTB). This comes days after the GSSTB drew strong criticism over a derogatory reference to Jesus Christ in its Class IX Hindi textbook. It’s at the end of Page number 13, at the end of Chapter three (a story ‘Idgah’ by Premchand) in Class IV Hindi textbook.

The error factory that is the Gujarat State School Textbook Board (GSSTB) has churned out yet another shocker, says the Times of India. The class IV Hindi (first-language) textbook prescribed for Hindi-medium students defines Roza as “Ek chaatak aur sankramak rog jisme dast aur kai aati hai” (an infectious disease that causes diarrhoea and vomiting). Roza is the fast Muslims keep in the holy month of Ramzan.

The error was spotted on page number 13 at the end of chapter three — a story ‘Idgah’ by Premchand — of Class IV Hindi textbook for Hindi-medium students. The definition of the second word ‘roza’ in shabdarth (meaning) was given as “ek chaatak tatha sankramak rog jisme dast aur kaai ati hai (an infectious disease that leads to diarrhoea and vomiting)”.
When contacted by The Times of India and Indian Express, GSSTB chairman Nitin Pethani said, “This is a printing error. There should be haiza (cholera) in place of roza, but mistakenly both these words have been inter-changed.”While this textbook has been part of the curriculum since 2015, Pethani has claimed there was no such error in the earlier edition. He said the error cropped up in the print edition of 2017.

“We will issue a correction for Hindi-medium schools… Not more than 15,000 copies of this textbook were published due to a limited number of Hindi-medium students,” said Pethani.While GSSTB officials denied having received an official complaint from any organisation or individual, Ahmedabad-based Right to Education (RTE) Forum, led by Mujahid Nafees, said the matter would be taken up with higher authorities. “The Forum has planned to submit a complaint to the GSSTB and the state government… errors regarding religions will not be accepted… action must be taken against those involved,” said Nafees. Nafees has been running an inclusive and vibrant programme on minority rights in Gujarat.

KHOJ, education for a plural India programme had conducted a joint study and workshop on the issue in Ahmedabad in 1999. Communalism Combat’s How Textbooks Teach Prejudice researced by Teesta Setalvad is a collection of in-depth exposures and analyses on the question. For the students of Gujarati-medium government schools in the state, error-free textbooks remain a distant dream. Since 1999, and then again in 2014, when the Dinanath Batra textbooks were introduced.

A few months back it was the gaffe, in the Std IX Hindi textbook which described Jesus Christ as the demon. The blunder, which appears in a chapter on the ‘Teacher-student relationship in Indian cultural context,’ has put the state government in a quandary as the new academic session is just around the corner. Now the Std IV textbook has derogatory meanings described to the fasting during Ramzan.

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