I’ve been impressed by reports of the new reference books for schools in Gujarat, containing vital information about the discovery of stem cells, television and motor cars in ancient India and the superiority of our age-old civilisation over everybody else. I would like to cash in on this trend and outline here a model question paper in elementary jingoism:
Q: How do we know Indian software engineers were famous in the ancient world?
A: Consider the Code of Hammu Rabi in Babylon, the oldest recorded code in the world. H Rabi was clearly an ancient Bengali, because he spelt Ravi as Rabi, short for Rabindranath and he probably wrote the code in C++.
Q: How are we sure that Indians constructed the entire education system in the West?
A: This is seen from the word ‘curriculum’, derived from curry, which, as everybody knows, is quintessentially Indian.
Q: What has been the influence of Sardarjis on Europe?
A: Originally, the influence was limited to Turkey, which was known as the ‘Sikh man of Europe’. After the financial crisis, Greece is the new Sikh man of Europe.
Q: Name the man who became the patron saint of England.
A: a) Some Christian with the unlikely name of Saint George; b) Saint Wayne Rooney; c) Sheikh S Pir; d) Sant Jairaj, who slew the dragon.
Q: Apart from the four Indian Veds — Rig, Sama, Yajur and Atharva — often wrongly spelt Vedas, what other Veds are there in English?
A: Here are some examples: Belo Ved — dealing with love; Beha Ved — about behaviour; Sha Ved — on the proper way to shave; Depra Ved — on evil; and Microwa Ved — on the art of cooking.
Q: Who is the biggest demon of them all?
A: a) Jatasura; b) Macaulay; c) Hidimba; d) Wendy Doniger
Q: Who is the greatest historian?
A: a) Herodotus, a Greek guy with a wild imagination; b) the Marxist D D Kosambi; c) the imperialist Arnold Toynbee; d) Yellapragada Sudershan Rao, the new head of the Indian Council of Historical Research.
Q: Who is the greatest superhero?
A: a) Superman; b) Spiderman; c) Batman; d) Batraman
Q: In ancient India, motor cars were called ‘an-ashwa rath’, or ‘not-horse carriages’. Name other such uses of the prefix ‘an’.
A: Examples are: Anode — not an ‘ode’; Anus — not us; and Ananda — not an anda, or not an egg in English.
Q: Who wrote the famous book of warfare called ‘The Art of War’?
A: a) A Chinese chap called Sun Tzu, an ancient Maoist; b) Hitler; c) Genghis Khan; d) an Indian called Sanju, corrupted to Sun Tzu in Chinese. Sanju is short for Sanjay, the chap who watched TV in the Mahabharata.
Q: Where should a young student spend his free time?
A: a) The neighbourhood hooch shop; b) the local opium den; c) at home, listening to subversive talk about the high price of tomatoes or d) the local RSS shakha.
For the objective-type questions, ‘d’ is the answer. Schools wanting such papers may write to me in confidence, terms negotiable.
Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint
The views expressed by the author are personal