Nehru’s last will and testament changed in Kerala textsJuly 7th, 2008 - 3:38 pm ICT by IANS
By Liz Mathew
New Delhi, July 7 (IANS) He didn’t believe in “religions ceremony”, to be forced to do so, he said, would be a “hipocracy”… those are, according to a textbook for government schools in Kerala, the words of India’s Cambridge and Harrow educated Jawaharlal Nehru. The ‘Last Will and Testament’ of India’s first prime minister, a lawyer by profession, was in elegant English and stated simply: “I wish to declare with all earnestness that I do not want any religious ceremonies performed for me after my death. I do not believe in such ceremonies, and to submit to them, even as a matter of form, would be hypocrisy and an attempt to delude ourselves and others.”
However, in the Class 7 Social Science textbook for schools following the syllabus set by the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) the words have been mangled.
It now reads: “I do sincerely desire to declare that no religions ceremony be performed for me after my death. I do not believe in any such ceremonies. To be forced to do them even as a formality is hipocracy and an attempt to scare us and others.”
Leading educationist Yash Pal has approved the textbook, which has other spelling and grammatical mistakes.
While narrating the story of Marxist veteran A.K. Gopalan, the book states: “The roof was not thatched for the last years and so it was not friendly with the wall. The family mix the previous day’s left over cooked rice with the rice soup they got form the landlord’s house and ate.”
Besides, there are other bloomers like “wills and fancies” instead of “whims and fancies”.
The issue of the textbook has snowballed into a major controversy with religious leaders and the opposition alleging that the government was trying to propagate Communist theory by trying to introduce atheism, materialism and anti-religious feelings into young minds.
An adamant state government says it will not withdraw the textbooks, but will appoint an expert committee to examine the complaints.
Ironically, the CPI-M had led a tirade against ’saffronisation’ of textbooks during the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government - saffron is the colour identified with the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its ideological parent Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
A CPI-M politburo statement issued on Oct 8, 2002 had come down heavily on the National Council of Education Research and Training, the central government’s educational organisation, for “unprofessional pedagogical approach, shoddy editing, gross inaccuracies and blatantly pro-Sangh Parivar bias of the authors and the editors”.
The politburo had then also demanded: “Given the enormity of the mistakes, the new books should not be introduced until a thorough public review by an expert body has been undertaken.”