Reprint the book

Gujarat government must withdraw textbook with objectionable epithet against Jesus Christ

Published:June 13, 2017 1:38 am
Gujarat government must withdraw textbook with objectionable epithet against Jesus Christ

A Gujarat State School Textbook Board (GSSTB) textbook for Class IX students learning Hindi as a second language has a reference to Jesus Christ as a “haivan” (demon/monster). Christian groups have been demanding for a month that the Gujarat government withdraw the books in question. GSSTB has since removed the controversial adjective from the online version of the book. The government has claimed that it is a typographical error — that “bhagvan” was misspelt as “haivan” — and ordered an inquiry. However, it has refused to withdraw the textbook citing logistical issues. This is unacceptable. The textbook, which reaches thousands of students, must be recalled and new ones with the corrected text printed and redistributed.

Inter-community relations in Gujarat have been fraught for decades now. Christians, who make up less than half a per cent of the state’s population, too have been targeted by fanatics. Through 1998 and 1999, churches and prayer meeting halls in The Dangs district were attacked and vandalised. Several other places of worship, including in Ahmedabad, were targeted. The Dangs, among the poorest districts in the country, has also been at the centre of “ghar vapasi” movements to “return” tribal Christians to the Hindu fold. Against this backdrop, referring to the fountain-head of the Christian faith as a “monster” could sharpen the polarisation and add to the insecurity of the Christian community in the state. Leaving it to teachers to tell the class that epithet in the textbook is an error may not necessarily ensure that the mistake is not internalised by the students.

The objectionable reference to Christ occurs in a chapter titled “Bharatiya sanskriti me guru-shishya sambandh” (the teacher-disciple relationship in Indian culture). Here, Christ is not discussed as a Semitic religious figure, but spoken about in the context of an aspect of his life and words that has a bearing on Indian culture. The text mentions that Christ as a guru loved and respected his disciples. This is a Christ who has evoked respect and admiration among many non-Christians in India as well. His teachings were a seminal influence on Gandhi. The cost of reprinting the textbook and the logistics of distribution pale against the potential damage the error can inflict.

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  1. D
    Dash
    Jun 16, 2017 at 12:21 am
    Christ was indeed a haivan though you cant teach this to children. You'll be shocked to know that bible(new testament)promotes slavery. It says as long as u can feed,you can have $€x slaves. Bible is not different from quran. Both have similar views on violence,slavery,apostacy etc.
    Reply
  2. D
    Dash
    Jun 16, 2017 at 12:19 am
    Christ was indeed a haivan though you cant teach this to children. You will be shocked to know that bible(new testament) promotes slavery. It says as long as u can feed,you can have slaves. Bible is not different from quran. Both have similar views on Violence,slavery,apostacy etc.
    Reply
  3. G
    Gerald Fernandes
    Jun 14, 2017 at 5:12 pm
    Haivan Narendra Modi. Regret Bhagyavan Narendra Modi. Long Live the Republic of India! May all her citizens ever prosper !
    Reply
  4. N
    nitin
    Jun 14, 2017 at 10:08 am
    So abuse of Hindu Gods is fine as per Catholic Express but Christian God must be spoken of highly? The double standards of Christian RW like Vandita Misra and other Christian extremists in Indian Express are so obvious.
    Reply
  5. B
    Bert Brech
    Jun 14, 2017 at 12:56 am
    We are tired of being bullied by people like you. Buzz off. The book stays. Christians specialise in abusing Hinduism.
    Reply
  6. B
    Bandhakavi Girija Shankar Rao
    Jun 13, 2017 at 5:02 pm
    Yes. i Agree. The Government Of Gujatat MUST Withdraw The Book, Which is Now in Circulation Reprint it, After Removing The Objectionable Epithet. The Cost Of This Exercise Will Be Very Less. On The Other Hand, If The Government does Not Withdraw This Book, Allows its Circulation, With The Objectionable Thing, it Can Snowball into A Crisis Government May Have To Spend Much More To Tacle Any Ugly Situation That Could Arise.
    Reply
  7. A
    Anand
    Jun 13, 2017 at 11:58 am
    Almost every book have some typographical error, doesn't mean they have to be withdrawn. This particular case, being sensitive to a minority community demands investigation. But since, Christ has been depicted in a respectable way, there doesn't seem any hidden intend to hurt religious sentiments. A typographical error won't dilute the meaning that is conve , even to the children
    Reply
  8. B
    Bert Brech
    Jun 13, 2017 at 9:21 am
    Cows are sacred to Hindus. Protect cows. You can't have it both ways. If you want to protect Christian sentiments you must protect Hindu ones too. Your blatant anti-Hindu favoritism is no longer acceptable.
    Reply
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