Of Religion and Textbooks, Indian Edition

Textboks_burnt_kerela_20080707 In Outlook India:

Take this lesson titled  Mathamillaatha Jeevan (Jeevan, the casteless):    

The headmaster asked the parents, who had come with their ward, to sit in the chairs before him, and began to fill the application form.    

“What’s your name, son?”    


“Good. Nice name. Father’s name?”    

“Anvar Rashid.”    

“Mother’s name?”    

“Lakshmi Devi.”    

The headmaster raised his head, looked at the parents and asked:     “Which religion should we write?”    

“None. Write there is no religion.”    


“The same.”    

The headmaster leaned back in his chair and asked a little gravely:     “What if he feels the need for a religion when he grows up?”    

“Let him choose his religion when he feels so.”

This is the passage that has been singled out by the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF), the Church and Muslim organisations. They are demanding immediate withdrawal of the Class VII social studies book, being taught under the Kerala board, from which this passage has been taken.

The reason? Large portions of the book, they allege, is an an attempt to teach atheism to impressionable schoolchildren. They say that such lessons and others which illustrate caste cruelties will sow sectarian discontent.