Experts to judge if Mumbai University textbook is objectionable

May 18, 2016, 06:54 IST | Varun Singh and Pallavi Smart

After mid-day’s report, Mumbai University accepted that prima facie, the textbook makes objectionable claims about Mahatma Gandhi, Lokmanya Tilak

Mumbai University has taken serious note of a mid-day report that highlighted how the varsity’s textbook on Indian politics had completely ignored the role of Jawaharlal Nehru as the country’s first ever PM and labelled freedom fighters like Mahatma Gandhi and Lokmanya Tilak as anti-seculars.

The university registrar said an expert committee would also seek to understand why the issue was brought up three years after the textbook was first published

On the very day this paper published the report, the university decided to constitute an inquiry committee to review the objectionable content in the book.

Just yesterday, mid-day carried the report ‘Nehru missing from MU textbook, while Gandhi, Tilak labelled anti-secular’.

The textbook is meant for students enrolled in the MA course in Political Science at the university’s Institute of Distance and Open Learning (IDOL).

Titled Modern Indian Political Thought, the textbook had sections on prominent Indian leaders — many of them from the Left — but not a single chapter on Nehru’s contributions.

In addition, the book also made some puzzling claims — for instance, it blamed Mahatma Gandhi for pushing away Muhammad Ali Jinnah by using too many ‘Hindu idioms and similes’, eventually causing the Partition.

The book also claimed that Lokmanya Tilak was anti-secular because he started the Ganesh festival to bring people of different castes together.

Notably, the book also claimed that except for the Left, all political parties had used communalism to score points. The textbook was compiled by Surendra Jondhale, the university’s course coordinator and the head of the Civics and Politics department.

After the report came out, NCP leader Jeetendra Awhad met with the university’s vice-chancellor to discuss the contentious book.

The meeting was held at MU’s Kalina campus, the registrar and director of the Board of Colleges and University Development (BCUD) were also present.

Registrar says
Confirming the development, MU registrar, Dr MA Khan said, “Prima facie, the content seems to be objectionable. The VC has assured that an inquiry committee will be formed with experts.

After the inquiry, if anything is found objectionable, immediate action will be taken.”

He added, “Whether or not the book should be continued or altered, and whether the views expressed in it are really objectionable – these are issues to be decided by the inquiry committee. It is also pertinent to understand why the issue has been raised three years after the book was published. All particulars will be assessed by the committee of experts formed by the VC.”

Opposition reacts

Sanjay Dutt, Congress MLC
We demand Maharashtra Government’s intervention to withdraw Mumbai University’s Political Science textbook which ignores Nehru’s contribution & labels Mahatma Gandhi & Lokmanya Tilak Anti-Secular.

Jeetendra Awhad, NCP leader
The book holds much objectionable content regarding Mahatma Gandhi and Lokmanya Tilak. The VC of Mumbai University has assured me that an inquiry committee will read the entire book and review it. If objectionable content is found, the book will be withdrawn from the list of textbooks and the concerned writer will have to face action.

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