A picture is better than a thousand words. The aphorism may not be correct for a Class 8 supplemental textbook image – this is just one word that strikes in its common tone. The Telangana chapter of the Islamic Organization of Students of India (SIO), along with others, urged the government to remove content and take action against private publishers.

In this case, the image of a man holding a rocket launcher in his right hand and the Quran in his left hand is captioned “terrorist” in a Class 8 social studies study material. The image is published in the chapter “National movement – the last phase 1919-1947”, under the theme of political systems and governance.

“This creates and propagates a stereotypical, hateful and Islamophobic view of the Muslim community … It is discriminatory and hateful content, which destroys the harmony, unity and integrity of society”, Dr Talha Faiyazuddin, president of SIO Telangana, Recount The moment of the news.

This is not the first time that the system has used education as a vehicle for extreme messages. In March of this year, an MBBS manual “Essentials of Medical Microbiology” bound the first wave of Covid19 at the Tablighi Jamaat gathering in March 2020, before India entered containment. He said the Jamaat cluster was a “causal factor” behind the spread of the virus – a claim the authors later apologized for.

The contents of the manual are anything but trivial. The chapter, along with other similar portrayals, stereotypes a particular community and arouses common feelings against them. Second, calling this process “education” “for the students is indoctrination at a grassroots level, jeopardizing the core beliefs and secular values ​​that people grow up with.

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Education is fertile ground for propagating any message and reflecting political ideologies that “serve narrow political goals”. Earlier this year, a school in Chennai called farmers protesting new farming laws “violent maniacs who act at the instigation of the outside” in a questionnaire. The question referred to the violence on Republic Day, asking students to write a letter to the editor condemning the “terrible and violent acts of disbelievers who fail to realize that the country comes before personal needs and gains. “. Phrases like “devilish violence” and “rampage” encouraged students to think of farmers in a radicalized way.

In 2018, historians and experts expressed concern on rewriting textbooks in Rajasthan to reflect a “distorted” nationalist vision. For example, the class 8 Hindi textbook chapter on “Village development with cow protection” or the class 6 social science textbook stated, “The initial nature of the caste system was very good… It doesn’t There was no ban on sharing food or drink in marital relationships. between the castes, there was no untouchability either. The assertion effectively whitewashes caste history without criticizing it. He even co-opted the system to call the indigenous peoples “Adivasi jaati. “

Additions and changes to textbooks are as worrying as deletions. “The oversight committee has always shown prejudices against the representation of Dalits, tribes, women and sexual minorities, as evidenced by its concerted efforts to remove all these voices from the program,” members of an academic committee. Noted, referring to the removal of Dalit authors from the University of Delhi curriculum.

These incidents raise important questions about the thin line between knowledge and propaganda. The context determines what happens in the country and who has the power to shape the narrative.

In “Politicization of the curriculum in South Asia“Professor Ashar Khohar explores the role of politicized textbook content in making individuals more intolerant.” In this way, political motivations turn student textbooks into platforms of ideological conflict while compromising outcomes of learning ”, The Bastion Noted. Then it may be up to students to examine this more carefully and be better able to identify biases instead of viewing textbooks as gospel truth. “This way, students can see that textbooks don’t always represent things objectively. “

The flaws and claims of literature, and misinformation, are cemented as truth. The result? A world where it is dangerously easy to mix fact and fiction, making myth and propaganda a real story.