An Open Letter to the Authorities of the Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education

To Whomsoever It May Concern,

Guten Tag! Hello! Namaste! What’s up? All good? All well? I suppose it is. What with cutting corners and stuff, things must be a whole lot easier at your offices. I must commend you on the exceptional textbooks you’ve produced. Classic. How have you not been rewarded for it? The reward money would help you get better typists and proof-readers. The quality is world-class.  In my ten years of formal education, never have I seen such textbooks. You shouldn’t produce them in paper, they should be made of gold. Solid gold. But then printing would be a little more difficult. But what is difficult for you? It’s not even a word. It’s something that’s not even in your dictionaries and grammar books. I’d really like to see those. You have the most amazing English. The nuanced language of the textbooks blew me away. It was like an artillery gun fired a blank round with its barrel facing me, leaving me choking because of the dust and smoke! And my mum’s an English teacher. Have you read the textbooks? You really should. You have to! If you don’t, how will you know and understand the quality of education you provide? I have studied in a series of CBSE schools over a ten year period: Guru Harkrishan Public School (Sri Ganganagar, Rajasthan); Kendriya Vidyalaya (Island Grounds, Chennai, Tamil Nadu & Belgaum Cantonment, Belgaum, Karnataka) and Army Public School (Udhampur, Jammu and Kashmir) and never have I encountered such textbooks. Before you start beaming with pride, I hope you have got some indication that almost all of the above was written sarcastically. Know the word? Sarcasm? The Oxford Dictionary defines ‘sarcasm’ as ‘the use of irony to mock or convey contempt’. Get it? In ten years, I never found a single grammatical error in my CBSE textbooks. And I was one of those restless kids who read textbooks for recreation when I got tired of the idiot box (the TV is also known as that) and novels (get a couple of good ones, will you?). I cannot possibly, nor can anyone else for that matter, count the number of grammatical errors and simple language errors in any one of the textbooks. Also, the way dates are written. To quote an example, say the date is 15 October, 2015; it’s written as 15, October 2015. How lovely is that, eh? And the English textbook stated that many foreigners and Mumbaikars died in the 26/11 Mumbai Terror Attacks. I’m sorry but that is incorrect. People from all over the country were in Mumbai that night. While ‘Mumbaikar’ is a word used for residents of Mumbai, ‘Indians’ would have been the more appropriate term to use. Also, why in the name have you made it out to be as if the names ‘Bombay’, ‘Poona’ and ‘Deccan’ never existed? Mumbai was Bombay until 1995. Pune was Poona until the late 70s. While you may prefer either name, the fact of the matter is that until some years back, these cities had Anglicised names, whether you like it or not. Just because it is felt that these names are reminiscent of the Colonial era doesn’t mean you try to erase them. Maharashtra came into being on May 1, 1960. Before that, Bombay State existed, before which there was Bombay Province. What’s with calling it Mumbai State?! While it is correct to use the terms ‘Mumbai’ and ‘Pune’ in the Marathi textbooks, you can’t do the same for English. Simply because Mumbai was Mumbai in Marathi and Pune was Pune. Time to get out of the pure Marathi scheme of things, don’t you think?

Sincerely,

Varun Bhakay.

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4 comments

  1. Good sarcasm Varun. But too much of it. The footage taken up by the sharp barbs has eaten into the space you could have used to write more about the errors you have discovered. Anyway, the letter if read by the concerned people would definitely make them squirm. Mission accomplished !

    Cheers.
    Sanjeev Bhakay

    Like

    1. Thank you, Kaka. Yes, I know I went overboard with the sarcasm but that somewhat makes the post more noticeable. Or so I feel.

      Like

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