Union human resource development minister Prakash Javadekar on Thursday condemned the sexist content published in a Class 12 textbook that suggested 36-24-36 figure as the best body shape for females.
“I have instructed officers to take strict action against those behind this textbook and all schools should ensure they have proper books,” Javadekar said.
The HRD minister said he has also informed all Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) schools to use National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) books.
According to media reports, the Health and Physical Education Textbook described the “physical and anatomical differences between male and female” and highlighted what should be a “best” shape of a female body.
The book, authored by Dr VK Sharma and published by Delhi-based New Saraswati House, also reasoned that even Miss World and Miss Universe beauty pageants take the 36-24-36 body shape into consideration while judging the contestants.
An image of the section of the textbook was initially posted on social media by a Twitter user Anuj Khurana. The book that was being used in a CBSE-affiliated school has not been recommended by the education board.
The CBSE denied reports about the textbook saying “it is totally incorrect and does not have any credible base”.
“CBSE does not recommend books by any private publishers to the affiliate schools. Rule 15.1 (d) of the Affiliation-bye-laws of the Board clearly states that the school will follow the syllabus on the basis of curriculum prescribed by NCERT/CBSE and textbooks published by NCERT or CBSE as far as practicable,” it said in a statement.
“It also states that the schools will exercise extreme care while selecting books of private publishers. The content must be scrutinized to preclude any objectionable content that hurts the feelings of any class, community, gender, religious group in society if prescribing books having such content, the school will have to take the responsibility of such content,” it added.
According to sources, the Publishers Association is likely to take strict action against New Saraswati House.
This is not the first time that content in textbooks being taught in CBSE schools has grabbed headlines.
A publisher was forced to withdraw a Class 4 environmental science textbook that suggested students to “kill a kitten” as part of an experiment to prove “how mammals needed oxygen”.
Similarly, a Class 12 sociology book cited “ugliness” and physical disability of a girl as reasons behind the prevalent practice of dowry in the country.