It’s opposite world!

I know I should be writing a TAM recap but this came across my inbox and I couldn’t resist.  Some groups in India are upset about the messages being sent in a public school social studies textbook. Familiar, no? Not quite. In this case, it’s religious groups that are upset because they say the book promotes atheism and communism.

India’s three religions are presented, but citing certain historical events and generalises on that basis to claim that all three promote caste divisions in society. Religion is shown as a divisive force that removes the human dimension from the social fabric.”

Sounds like a book I need to read.  Alas, it’s a little tough to get much detail online – I can’t even find anything that tells me the title of the book. But although the couple of articles I found say that religious and secular groups are both against the book, the only articles I’ve found have had statements from Muslim and Catholic groups.

The president of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), Panakkad Syed Mohammedali Shihab Thangal, on 19 June called on the authorities to withdraw a textbook that he claims promotes atheism and anti-religious sentiments, threatening public protests in case his demands are not met. He is backed in this by the United Democratic Front (EDF), a Congress Party ally. Members of the Kerala Students Union (KSU) and Youth Congress activists also burnt copies of the textbook.

Why do people still think burning books is effective?  Is it really sending any sort of positive message?Anyway, I really want to check this book out – if anyone has any more details on it, let me know!  I’ll also post a follow up if I learn more.


Maria D'Souza grew up in different countries around the world, including Hong Kong, Trinidad, and Kenya and it shows. She currently lives in the Bay Area and has an unhealthy affection for science fiction, Neil Gaiman and all things Muppet.

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  1. “Religion is shown as a divisive force that removes the human dimension from the social fabric.”

    Sounds like a well-researched, well-written textbook to me.

  2. One of my best friends got permission from the junior high school where she teaches English to have a Banned Book Club. Yup, just what it sounds like. Read books that had been banned and/or challenged, talk about why they’d been banned and/or challenged, and talk about what issues in society made people uncomfortable with them at the time.

    I firmly believe that burning a book simply sends the fire of its inherent truth farther than it ever could have gone on its own. There will always been one copy left, and for every one copy there will be a hundred people who hide behind locked doors to read it.

  3. That’s awesome. Finally a club I might consider joining. Normally, I subscribe to the Groucho Marx philosophy of clubs: I’d never join a club that would accept someone like me as a member.

  4. I should clarify that they were reading things like “Huckleberry Finn” and “The Chocolate War”, not “The Anarchist Cookbook” and “Sex” by Madonna. ;)

    I loved the idea too though. It’s so subversive, in a really productive sort of way, and I think middle schoolers are the right age for that kind of thinking.

    I’m so surprised to hear you’re not into clubs and stuff. I totally had you pegged as the quintessential Elk. /sarcasm

  5. Hey, I loved Huck Finn. Everyone should read it at least twice – once as a kid and once as an adult. More readings encouraged as desired, of course.

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