In a glaring oversight, an ICSE Class 6 science textbook shows a “mosque” as a source of noise pollution depicting a man below closing his ears to the sound from loudspeakers from mosques.
Other noise-producing symbols like train, car and plane were seen in the picture but the osque has triggered uproar. While the textbook is not published directly or prescribed by the ICSE, it has denied any role in dipicting a religious symbol in the textbook in a negative tone.
Gerry Arathoon, Secretary of the Council for Indian School Certificate Examinations, told news agency PTI, “If any book with objectionable content is being taught at certain schools, it is for schools and publisher to ensure such a thing does not happen.”
However, social media is abuzz with an online petition launched to demand ban on the book and the private publisher has apologised for the mistake and assured to remove the offensive picture.
Hemant Gupta of Selina Publishers, said, “We do apologise if it has hurt the sentiments of anyone,” as the picture consisted of “a structure resembling a portion of a fort and other noise producing objects in a noisy city”.
The textbook row follows similar controversy when Bollywood singer Sonu Nigam said he was woken up by the sound of “azaan” or early morning prayers from mosques over loudspeakers. Before the controversy subsided, the ICSE textbook row had hit the social media.
Religious portions in textbooks have often triggered major controversies and recently a Class 9 Hindi textbook has referred to Jesus Christ as a demon. Another tongue-in cheek description in Class 12 textbook on physical education suggested ideal feminine body size as 36-24-36.