A Class 8 reference book for social studies in Rajasthan described freedom fighter Bal Gangadhar Tilak as the ‘father of terrorism’.
Page 267 of the book’s Chapter 22 read: “Tilak demonstrated a path towards national movement, therefore, he is called as the father of terrorism.” That would seem to equate national movement with terrorism, planting a seriously mistaken and perversely problematic notion in the children’s mind.
The book by a Mathura-based publisher is being used by private English-medium schools affiliated to the Rajasthan Board of Secondary Education (RBSE).
The description of the freedom fighter comes as a part of sub-topic “Incidents of National Movement during 18th and 19th century” in the book.
The book further read, “Tilak clearly believed that we cannot achieve anything just by pleading the British officers. Through Shivaji and Ganpati festivals, Tilak aroused unique awareness in the country. He instilled the mantra of freedom among the masses, due to which he became a thorn in the eyes of the British.”
Reacting to the blunder, Private School Association Director Kailash Sharma said that describing Tilak as the ‘father of terrorism’ is highly condemnable, reported The Financial Express (FE). He further said, before writing or making such controversial changes in texts, one should consult with the historians first, the FE reported.
Officials from the Student Advisor Publication Private Limited, who are responsible for publishing the book, have claimed that they have corrected the passage in the revised edition last month, said media reports. The publisher’s office also added that the mistake happened during the translation process, saidmedia reports quoting news agency PTI.
Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee chief Sachin Pilot termed the content of the book as an insult to the nation and demanded the government to immediately remove the chapter along with banning the book.
He uploaded a photo of the controversial text and took potshots at the BJP by saying “so much for a self-proclaiming “nationalist” BJP government.”
DNA quoted Pilot as saying that it is very unfortunate that syllabus in school books is being misrepresented damaging the image of freedom fighters. “The same BJP government earlier tried to delete chapter on first prime minister Jawahar Lal Nehru from school books and then retracted when Congress opposed it aggressively,” he said.
Textbooks in Rajasthan have been mired in controversies in the past. A report in Deccan Chronicle said there were gaffes like Gautam Buddha’s picture in a chapter on Bhagwan Mahaveer and insensitive reference to sufi saint Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia followed by revision of text books that included sidelining first Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru and removing popular poem ‘Khoob Ladi Mardani wo toh Jhansi Wali Rani Thi’ by Subhadra Kumari Chouhan to give more space to Hindutva ideologues Savarkar and highlighting Modi government’s policies, slogans and achievements.