“Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.”
Writer George Orwell couldn’t have been more accurate in his thoughts. The current scenario of the Rajasthan education system is like a jumbled up hot soup. Education panelists from the state are under fire for trying to rewrite history by adding and omitting things at their whim. The process of nation building is to a large extent dependent upon the content included in school textbooks. This has been the case worldwide, but not in India.
The Rajasthan education panel triggered a raging controversy by deleting India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in school textbooks. Accompanying Nehru in the exit were other nationalist leaders Mahatma Gandhi, BR Ambedkar, Sarojini Naidu and Maulana Azad. Facing the heat, the panel has taken a u-turn now, saying it was an “oversight” and corrections have been suggested.
But that’s not all. The state has added a new chapter for Class 5 students: a letter from Mother Cow! We have not seen the syllabus ourselves, but media reports say that the lesson has pictures of Hindu gods within a bigger picture of a cow, each signifying the benefits that children can learn if they consider cow as their “mother”.
“My sons and daughters”, the letter says, “I give every individual strength, intelligence, long life, health, happiness and prosperity. Those who feel (my importance) consider me as their mother and I love them like my offspring.”
The letter further lists cow’s contribution to the society: “I produce the elixir of life in the form of milk, butter and ghee. My urine and excreta produces medicines, fertilizers and pesticides. My offspring, bullock, helps you in agriculture. I also purify environment by breathing.”
Thankfully, kids will not have to mug up the chapter, as it is meant for fun reading; no marks will be given for the lesson. Fair enough, I would say! While we were kids, we read such short essays that talked about the benefits that humans derive from a cow. But, the cow never addressed us as her ‘offsprings’. Also, we would learn similar essays about other domestic animals, such as the horse, bulls, dogs and the ilk.
I have no issues on a cow writing a letter to kids. Such stories fire the imaginary faculties of children. My question is, why not include more letters from various animals? If this move is not a saffron agenda, as the BJP in the state and the Centre have been claiming, why cannot things be taught with logic and sense?
Why not structure the chapter in a way that it will explain the benefits of a cow living versus it being consumed as meat? Kids can be taught how an increase in cow herding for meat may not be good for ecology.
My point is, if you think cow as the god, then upon its death, don’t allow its carcass to decay in the field. Take its funeral in a respectful way, and bury it, as burning it would be very brutal. You need to take care of the animal during its old age and upon its death. Then, I would say, reverence would be complete!