Mumbai: The Education department has ordered over 1.30 lakh books on personalities like Narendra Modi, Shivaji Maharaj, APJ Abdul Kalam, Shahu Maharaj, Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Babasaheb Ambedkar and other leaders. But there is a catch: The number of books ordered on Modi is disproportionately high — 1.5 lakh units purchased at a cost of Rs 59.42 lakh.
School authorities said that the introduction of books on leaders is a subtle attempt to impose certain ideologies. A school principal said, “Students learn about most leaders in history as part of their curriculum; then why do we need additional books? Secondly, Modi is a living leader and not part of history yet; then, why should the students learn about his life and ideology?”
However, the education ministry is adamant that these books do not have any controversial or objectionable content and will add to the knowledge of the students. These books are meant for Class 1 to 5 and will be kept in libraries of various schools. Vinod Tawde, state education minister for school and higher education, said, “We are not forcing students to read these books. These books will be available in school libraries and students can opt to read them, if they want. We have also purchased books based on other leaders apart from Modi.”
Relook at ‘adult’ content
Under fire from Opposition leaders over the “prurient text” in two books meant for supplementary reading of school students, the Maharashtra government on Wednesday announced setting up of a committee to review their contents. The first book, “Baal Nachiket”, published by Pune-based Bhara-tiya Vichar Saadhana, was singled out by leader of opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil. He termed its contents objectionable and inappropriate for children. The book has words like “loss of virginity”, “physical pleasure” and “sexual desire”, which are unsuitable for children, he added. Another book, “Bhagwan Ved Vyaas”, also published by the Bharatiya Vichar Saadhana, has a
character called Matsyagandha talking about her being a fisherman’s daughter and having a repulsive body odour. While talking to Rishi Parashar, she says, “Hey Rishi, who will accept me after I have lost my virginity?” In the same story, there are lines like “Looking at the movements of her body Rishi Parashar was possessed by sexual desires” and “He lustfully caught her hand”. “The publishing house has links with the RSS and the government has purchased these books at inflated cost,” Vikhe Patil said.