Prashant     . A  Centre  for  Human  Rights, Justice  and  Peace

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At the start of the current academic year (June 2004), the Gujarat State Board of School Textbooks, Gandhinagar,  published a new  Social Science Textbook for Std. VIII.


The PREFACE to this Textbook states “in continuation  with the new national syllabi,   prepared   by   N.C.E.R.T.,   the  Gujarat  State  Secondary  and  Higher Secondary Education Board has framed new syllabi. These syllabi  are approved by the Government of Gujarat”…..And further, ….. “The Board has taken necessary care to make this Textbook error free and useful…..”. 


The CONCEPT note to this Textbook  states “Adopting the national curriculum in the context of the educational policy of the Government of Gujarat, with the curriculum prepared by the NCERT as the focal point, keeping in mind the special conditions previling  ( sic ! ) in Gujarat, combining the principles of both the subjects namely, Social Studies and Social  Reconstruction, preserving the core of the curriculum, in all its aspects, a course of studies has been prepared for Standard 8 without diluting in any way the national curriculum.  This curriculum has  been divided into three units or sections”. 


PRASHANT (the  Ahmedabad-based Centre for Human Rights Justice and Peace) has just conducted a research study on this Textbook.  The research study shows that this new Textbook for Std. VIII is replete with factual inaccuracies, historical distortions, manipulative statements, unscientific matter and above all highly discriminatory.


PRASHANT calls for the immediate withdrawal of this Textbook.


Here are some points from  in the Textbook to reinforce this demand  :


·         The front-cover of the book has the portraits of 17 people.  The normal procedure should have been that somewhere in the inside-cover, these 17 people  should  have  been  identified.  This  is not done.  If one goes back to chapter 5 of the book, one may conclude that these are supposedly portraits of freedom fighters of India.  However, Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel do not find any place on this cover. 


·         The map of India on the back-cover clearly shows Kashmir as a part of Pakistan !


·         In the Sectional Background 2, Unit I, (pg. 3) the following is stated : “Stories of revolutionaries who became martyrs to free their motherland have been included so that the children develop self-respect, patriotism and national  character”. 


·         The very first chapter, The Rise of the Modern Age is flawed.  The section on The Ancient Age begins with the sentence : “There are differences of opinion about the time of the Ancient Age” (pg. 4).

      What time ?  What differences ?  Does the Indus Valley Civilization belong to

      the Ancient Age of India ? 


·         In the very same chapter, one is not informed of the time-line.  Is it A.D. or B.C. ?


·         Aurangzeb’s role is heavily one-sided (being demonized) whereas Shivaji is made into a “real hero” for : “At a very young age, Shivaji came into contact with a powerful Guru named Ramdas.  He gave Shivaji lessons in the protection of Brahmins and cows, patriotism and guerrilla warfare.  With his inspiration, Shivaji organized the Marathas.” (pgs. 11- 13). 


·         When talking of Social Results (pg. 24), the caste system is conveniently forgotten.  This is further reflected on pg. 212 when one talks of India’s Foreign Policy (no. 3) Opposition to Racialism and Colour bar.


·         Minorities are demonized several times in the Textbook eg. pgs. 37 Social and Religions Causes and pg. 193 “making full use of Muslim fanaticism”. 


·         The Textbook is full of Historical inaccuracies and conjectures eg. pg.41 “The government published a report saying that Tatya Tope was hanged to death on April 18, 1859.  But from a number of other sources, we come to know that Tatya had managed to escape and some other person was hanged to death in his place.  It is believed that Tatya spent the last year years of his life at Navsari.”. 

It is surprising indeed that the authors in a History Textbook have to resort to a “number of other sources” which are not identified or specified; and to use words like “it is believed” speaks of a total lack of History.


·         Veer Savarkar is glorified (pg. 43 and pg. 70).


·         Vir Birsa Munda, a Tribal Leader (pgs. 44 and 53) who fought against the British and Indian exploiters is hardly given his due.  

In the Gujarati edition (pg. 53), he is referred to as a Vanvasi, a term which Adivasis greatly resent because it is very derogatory.


·         Historical dates change from one edition (English) to another (Gujarati) eg. on pg. 43, (English) we have “Another Namdhari group assaulted the town of Maler Kotla on January 15 1892 with the object of getting possession of the treasure.” The same incident takes place on 15 January 1872 in the Gujarati edition.

Which of these editions is right ? 

Again statements like this seem to give legitimacy to acts like robberies and murders ! 

·         “A camp was opened in Germany to give military training to the youth, who were trained in the use of making bombs, to burst them and handling weapons. ” (pg. 56).

This statement literally lays to rest that India’s struggle for independence was non-violent.  It does not highlight the fact that a tiny group of Indians received training from the Nazis of  Germany.  This statement legitimizes terror and terrorist activity.


·         With regard to the non-cooperation movement (pgs. 60 and 61)

The Textbook highlights negative aspect. 

One really does not understand the meaning of this negative aspect.


·         The Textbook is at pains to state that “The remains of Shyamji Krishna Varma and his wife were brought to India and were installed at his native town of Mandavi in Kachchh with full honours on September 4, 2003.”  (pg. 55).  But compare this to pg. 178, Agricultural Productivity when the statistical data provided for India’s production of rice and of wheat was that of 1983 !……..full 21 years ago !!!


·         In the chapter (18)  on INDIAN SOCIETY MARCH TOWARDS TRANSFORMATION ( sic ! ) pg. 157 and following is full of howlers :

-          “Thus, man formed the society to conquer the best peaks of action and thinking !

-          Now  let us understand ‘Transformation’

And in the very next sentence :

-          You are now acquainted with this word ‘transformation’ (pg. 157).

-          In early days people took meals seating on a small wooden seat, known    as patla. Today, meal is taken at a dining table.  In a party, buffet system has become popular (pg. 157).

-          Human life style also changes and so also  his thoughts (pg. 158)

-           Group marriages are collective changes (pg. 158).

-          When people used to meet earlier, they wished each other saying Ram

      Ram and by shaking hands.  Today, people enjoy their meeting by

      speaking Namaste.  Is it not a change ? (pg. 158).


·         In chapter 19 GLOBAL PROBLEMS : 1……The less said, the better !  Just two examples :

-           Absence of electric power results into blackout (pg. 168).

-          Valuables should not be left back in the house (pg. 169)….. that’s when there is an earthquake !


·         In chapter 21 entitled GLOBALIZATION, HUMAN RIGHTS AND TERRORISM IN THE CONTEXT OF INDIA(pg. 187) Liberalisation, Privatization, and Globalization (LPG) seems to be glorified.

                  And well, “Globalization means the bonding of the whole world with

                  a single thread, thus becoming one unit of the entire world or the

                  coming together of all the countries of the world .! (sic !) (pg. 187,



·         In the Human Rights section (pg. 188), the background states “From the time a person is born as a human being he has certain rights….” .


·         In the section on TERRORISM (pg. 194), “the attacks on the Akshardham and the Raghunath temple”  find mention but the demolition of the Babri Masjid and the Gujarat Carnage of 2002 are very conveniently forgotten.


·         The UNICEF Office is not far from the office of the Gujarat State Board of School Textbooks.  Yet, UNICEF is spelt out (pg. 205)  as “The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund” instead of The United Nations Childrens’ Fund !


·         And on pg. 220,  the children are taught that “The LTTE assassinated Rajiv Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India in a terrorist attack.” !!!   (well, Rajiv Gandhi was not the PM then !).



·         The Textbook,in short, is :

-          distorted in its History

-          manipulative in its statements

-          very gender insensitive

-          discriminates against minorities, Adivasis and Dalits

-          replete with howlers, spelling mistakes, grammatical errors

-          demands that the VIII students indulge in activities which are far beyond their age or capacity

The mind of any student using this Textbook will tend to become more  warped than educated; more prejudiced about others than open, more unscientific than scientific.




           PRASHANT therefore calls for  the  immediate withdrawal  of  this Textbook.


           Further,   we  also  want  to  highlight   the  fact  that   the  Textbooks  of  Stds. IX

           and X of Social Studies still have a  very anti-minority bias and Hitler continues to

           be glorified in it (std. X).


           The  Karmayogi  calendar  sent  out by the Gujarat Higher Secondary Board  is   

           also  very  highly  discriminatory.   The  diverse  and  pluralistic  traditions  of  the 

           country hardly find a place.


            Education in Gujarat is truly in the doldrums !!!



            28th September 2004                                                          Fr. Cedric Prakash sj.