MUMBAI: Maharashtra education minister Vinod Tawde today said the textbook controversy related to dowry problem should not be politicised and maintained that the issue has been discussed with concerned officials. The textbook titled 'Major Social Problems in India' for class XII of the state Secondary and Higher Secondary education Board has cited "ugliness" and physical handicap of a girl for prevalent dowry problem in India. "The textbook has been part of the curriculum for last three years and one should not bring politics into it. The curriculum is designed by the Maharashtra State Board and they must have tried to reflect the reality in the society.
Still, if there are some objections over the references, the pointers can be shared with the Board and the latter can take action over it," Tawde said. Along with other reasons like religion, caste system, social prestige and compensation principle, the chapter cites ugliness of a girl as being a reason for demand of more dowry by the groom's family. "If a girl is ugly and handicapped, then it becomes very difficult for her to get married. To marry such girls, bridegroom and his family demand more dowry. Parents of such girls become helpless and pay dowry as per the demands of the bridegroom's family. It leads to rise in the practice of dowry system," the textbook says.
One of the board members on condition of anonymity said, interpretation of the entire text has been wrong. "The concept of the textbook of sociology subject is to give ideas about issues in the society; hence some common terms are being used for better understanding. If we start using politically or legally correct terms, then it will be difficult for the students to understand it." "Most of the sociologists, when it comes to talking about social issues, the words are used that are known to the target audience than being politically correct ones," said the member. Madhuri Pai, programme head of Mumbai based non- governmental organisation (NGO) Pratham, said the use of words ugly and handicapped in the textbook, on the basis of it being commonly used by people cannot be an excuse when you are preparing a curriculum. "There should have been some re-writing of the books to create sensitivity towards the issues. The HSC students mean they are grown up and sensitive about themselves as well. There should have been more careful approach," said Pai.