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 faced protests against a derogatory reference to Jesus Christ in its Class IX Hindi textbook.
While GSSTB officials said “roza” erroneously got printed instead of “haiza (cholera),” activists demanded action against those behind this error. Muslim clerics called the error a “blatant misinformation” and threatened protest.
The error was spotted on page number 13 at the end of chapter three — the story Idgah by Premchand — of the Class IV Hindi textbook for Hindi-medium students. The second word in shabdarth (meaning/explanation) explained word “roza” as “ek chaatak tatha sankramak rog jisme dast aur kaai ati hai (an infectious disease that gets diarrhoea and vomiting)”.
When contacted, GSSTB chairman Nitin Pethani said, “This is again a printing error. There should be haiza in place of roza, but mistakenly both these words have been inter-changed.” While this textbook has been in the curriculum since 2015, Pethani 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 using these textbooks. Not more than 15,000 copies of this textbook were published due to limited number of Hindi-medium students in the state,” said Pethani, adding that the online version of the textbook (which is a 2015 edition) does not have this printing error.
Though GSSTB officials denied having received an official complaint or representation 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 learnt about this blunder by one of our activists associated with government schools. It was pointed out by one of the teachers. The Forum has planned to submit a complaint to the GSSTB and the state government as repeated errors regarding religions will not be accepted. Also, action must be taken against those involved in this mistake,” said Nafees.
Reacting to the error, Mufti Arshad Quraishi, Jamiat Ulema-e Ahmedabad district general secretary, said: “We will make a representation before the state government against this blatant misinformation on our religion. Spreading such things is incorrect and not acceptable. This has to changed and we will make sure it does.”
Earlier, the GSSTB had formed an inquiry panel to look in the use of derogatory word for Jesus Christ following massive protests by the members of Christian community. The board, it has been learnt, was still waiting for a response to the showcause notices issued to proof reader, writer-editor, an Ahmedabad-based printer regarding the error.