If you believed in the sanctity of the written word, it may be time for a rethink. Since 2008, whole batches of students who have passed Std VII may be harbouring a fundamentally erroneous idea about the structure of the country’s government -- thanks to an error in their Civics textbook that hasn’t been revised in spite of a second edition.
Taking up cudgels on behalf of impressionable young minds is High Court advocate Bina Tendulkar, who has dispatched letters of complaint to the chief minister and the education minister, pointing out the error in the book that has for long been the standard text prescribed by the state board.
Tendulkar claims that page 30 of chapter six in the Civics and Administration textbook titled Our Constitution contains an error that may give a faulty impression about the structure of the country’s governance to its young and impressionable readers.
The chart depicting the divisions of the government shows the judiciary as a component of the Union Government. If you’ve paid attention to your lessons, this assertion will have you flinching in your seat.
The judicial system in India is independent of the government, in keeping with the principles of democracy.
An advocate by profession, Tendulkar was training teachers who give lessons to Std VII students on the Constitution and governance in India.
The teachers were shocked to learn that the judicial system in our nation is independent, and pointed out to her that the textbook Our Constitution (Civics and Administration) that they teach from mentioned otherwise.
Tendulkar said, “I was training Std VII teachers on our constitution. I told them that the four pillars of the Constitution of India are the government, the judiciary, the administration and the press. The teachers pointed out nowhere in the textbook is it mentioned that the judiciary is independent of the Union Government. The fact is that the judiciary is one of the pillars of the Constitution of India and has its own powers, separate from the Union Government. The board of editors of the textbooks should have mentioned that the judiciary is independent of the executive.
She said, “This textbook was prescribed to Std VII students in 2008 and the edition was even revised in 2012. I have written a letter to the chief minister and education minister pointing out the mistake. If you check the reference book by Durga Das Basu, Table VIII, which shows the components of the Government of the Union, has the executive and the legislature categorised under it, and does not show the judiciary anywhere. The judiciary is detailed in a different chart. This book is used by LLB students.”
Najma Kazi, principal of Anjuman-I-Islam Saif Tyabji Girls’ High School and Jr College of Arts & Science, said, “I don’t know about the mistake in the Civics textbook of Std VII. But all Urdu books of Std IX, X, XI and XII have errors. Errors were also found in English textbooks this year. Strong action should be taken against each and every mistake. We have never heard of so many mistakes in the same year, as we have discovered this year. Even children are finding the mistakes. How are teachers going to respect the board of studies? Political appointment should be stopped and there should be genuine and competent appointment on the board. We can’t trust the written word now. Earlier, we used to trust whatever is written in the textbooks. This generation will lose their trust in the written word.”
Despite repeated calls and messages, G K Mhamane, Director of Balbharti could not be reached for comment.
The year in which the textbook was prescribed to Std VII students
The year in which the textbook was revised with the error going uncorrected
Riddled with errors
>> On May 16, newspapers reported that the SSC geography textbook had a map that didn’t show Arunachal Pradesh in India. Other maps had spelling errors.
>> On May 21, the BOS panel for geography was sacked.
>> On July 4, there were media reports about the Suez Canal being referred to as a ‘sewage area’ and Burma as Bhramadesh. Errors continue to pepper the SSC history textbook for 2013-14 even after the state education department released one round of corrections for mistakes in the book.
The judiciary itself is independent. That is part of the Constitution of India. The judiciary can pass any remarks or reach decisions that go against the government.
-- Hasansharif Dalwai, senior advocate
Of course, the judiciary is one of the components of the unitary government, but it is not subordinate to the union government. It is not wrong to mention the judiciary as a component of the union government, but it is not subordinate to the union government. Unless we have an independent judiciary, the concept of democracy is destroyed. It needs to be explained to a child in school that the judiciary is independent.
-- Chandrashekhar Dharmadhikari, retired justice
There are three parts of the government -- the executive, legislature and judiciary. But under the constitution, the judiciary is totally independent of the legislative and the executive. It should be mentioned as independent. It is important how the teachers are conveying the message to the students.
-- Suresh Hosbet, retired justice