Gujarat teaches bizarre lessons to schoolkids

AHMEDABAD: After tutoring its primary school children that Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated on October 30, 1948, Japan mounted a nuclear attack on the US during World War II and that a country called Islamic Islamabad was formed after India’s partition, the Gujarat government has now come up with textbooks which teach students that “stem cell technology found mention in Mahabharata and motor car existed during the vedic period”.

Authored by Dinanath Batra, a member of National Executive of the RSS’ education cell called Vidya Bharati, and translated into Gujarati by Gujarat State School Textbooks Board, a set of eight books seeks to propagate what it claims to be Hindu ideology. It also says the country’s history books are coloured by the western version.

The supplementary books want the primary and secondary schoolchildren in Gujarat to believe that stem cell therapy technology originated from the birth of 100 Kauravas.

A 125-page book by Dinanath Batra called Tejomay Bharat says, “America wants to take the credit for invention of stem cell research, but the truth is that India’s Dr Balkrishna Ganpat Matapurkar has already got a patent for regenerating body parts.” The book goes on to say that, “You would be surprised to know that this research is not new and that Dr Matapurkar was inspired by the Mahabharata.

Kunti had a bright son like the sun itself. When Gandhari, who had not been able to conceive for two years, learnt of this, she underwent an abortion.

From her womb a huge mass of flesh came out. (Rishi) Dwaipayan Vyas was called. He observed this hard mass of flesh and then he preserved it in a cold tank with specific medicines.

He then divided the mass of flesh into 100 parts and kept them separately in 100 tanks full of ghee for two years. After two years, 100 Kauravas were born of it. On reading this, he (Matapurkar) realised that stem cell was not his invention. This was found in India thousands of years ago.”

It also has a take on the automobile technology. Here is what it wants school children to believe: “What we know today is that the motorcar existed during the Vedic period. It was called anashva rath. Usually a rath (chariot) is pulled by horses but an anashva rath means the one that runs without horses or yantra- rath, what is today a motorcar. The Rig Veda refers to this.”

When contacted, Gujarat Education Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama told Mail Today, “These are only reference books for children about Indian culture. They are not mandatory and not part of the syllabus. We only want children to read material by eminent and knowledgeable authors.”

Countered that Batra’s averments on the birth of the 100 Kauravas appeared more like a television serial lift, the education minister said, “It has been written by an eminent author and nothing has been thrust upon children.” He said the books are only for supplementary reading.

The minister insisted that there was no question of withdrawing the books since they are not mandatory. Asked about the textbooks that said Japan mounted a nuclear attack on the US instead of the contrary and the wrong date of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination, Chudasama said, “ An erratum has already been published.”

Not a stranger anymore

Dinanath Batra, author who was responsible for the pulping of American scholar Wendy Doniger’s book, is no more a stranger. A right-wing organisation close to the RSS, Batra has a history of questioning the modernising of the curriculum.

But even before that he was a fixture in the NDA government when Murli Manohar Joshi was Minister of HRD, who paid a serious amount of attention to him. He was then chairman of Vidya Bharati, an organisation that ran 14,000 schools all over India with a “nationalist” curriculum and had got Joshi to include some of his recommendations in a note circulated to state education ministers in 1998.