While the controversy over the Malayalam textbook in Social Science for Standard VII is raging, many seem to have ignored the English version of the textbook. It is meant to be taught in English medium schools that follow the State syllabus.

The controversy over the political content apart, the book is not fit for teaching because of the sheer number of errors, wrong usages, poor style and erroneous quotes. Many of the sentences in the English version are crude word-by-word translation of the text from Malayalam. The problem is compounded by the mistakes in the Malayalam text itself.

Reports have already appeared in the Press about how the textbook distorted the will and testament of Jawaharlal Nehru. The original English was translated into Malayalam with two mistakes. Apparently, this was then translated back into English. The result is something that does not resemble Nehru’s elegant prose. The word delude became scare because of the erroneous Malayalam translation. The word ‘any‘ also had its roots in the Malayalam translation. The word (yathoru) was probably a deliberate addition to add emphasis.

However, misquotes are not confined to Nehru. The quotes from the Bible and Mahabharata are also incorrect. Words of Muhammad Nabi and Guru Nanak also underwent changes. See the scan of page 25 of the textbook below and the actual quotes from authentic sources:

Page 25 of Kerala Reader in Social Science with erroneous quotes

Page 25 of Kerala Reader in Social Science with erroneous quotes

Jawaharlal Nehru’s will and testament
“I wish to declare with all earnestness that I do not want any religious ceremonies performed for me after my death. I do not believe in such ceremonies, and to submit to them, even as a matter of form, would be hypocrisy and an attempt to delude ourselves and others.” Jawaharlal Nehru

“This is the sum of all true righteousness: deal with others as thou wouldst thyself be dealt by. Do nothing to thy neighbour which thou wouldst not have him do to thee hereafter.”

In other words,
One should not behave towards others in a way that is disagreeable to oneself. This is the essence of dharma.
Mahabharata, Anusasana Parva 113.8

Or in simple terms:
Do not do any thing to others that you do not want to be done to yourself


“Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”
Matthew 7:12, King James Version

Do for others what you want them to do for you: this is the meaning of the Law of Moses and of the teachings of the prophets.
Today’s English Version published by the Bible Society of India

Prophet Muhammed
“None of you [truly] believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.” Prophet Muhammad (from Imam Al-Nawawi’s Forty Hadiths)

Guru Nanak
Guru Nanak’s words appear in the text as follows:
Don’t desire evil for others. Don’t speak harsh about anyone. Never obstruct any one’s work

It could have been put in a better way:

Do not wish evil for anyone. Do not speak harshly to anyone. Do not obstruct anyone’s work.

(To be continued)

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