History rewritten. The Left Front government in Tripura has now taken a new route to publicity – the Class 12 board examination.
The students sitting the English exam on March 2 were given a comprehension exercise that required them to read a passage which talked at length about the celebrations organised by the Manik Sarkar government to honour gymnast Dipa Karmakar.
The first Indian woman gymnast to compete in Olympics, Karmakar finished fourth in 2016 Rio games, a feat celebrated across India including her home state of Tripura.
Sample a few questions:
How long did it take for Dipa to climb up the dias?
Which ministers were present in the stadium?
In honour of Dipa a holiday was declared on August 23 at all educational institutions by:
• The chief minister
• The education minister
• The director of education
• The secretary of education
There were many such questions that listed whatever the government did to honour the 23-year-old gymnast, who is only one of the five women in the world to perform the dangerous Produnova vault which if not executed properly can break the neck.
The National Students Union of India (NSUI), the student wing of the Congress, has demanded the Tripura Board of Secondary Education (TBSE), which conducts the exam, to step in.
“The passage or comprehension that came in higher secondary board question paper only highlighted Left Front’s praise and what the government has given to Dipa Karmakar,” NSUI general secretary Rakesh Das said.
The passage began with atmosphere in the stadium where a huge crowd greeted Karmakar and her coach, Bisweswar Nandi. It lists in great details the ceremony – presenting of bouquets by the sports department in the presence of chief minister, education Minister and sports minister.
It talks about Karmakar expressing gratitude to her coaches, the chief minister’s advise to her and the CM announcing promotions for her and her coach.
There was also a mention of the education minister announcing a public holiday on August 23.
The saving grace – the passage omitted the names of the CM and his ministers.
A group of NSUI members met TBSE’s Deb in his office to register protest.
“We have already given memorandum to TBSE president, demanding a reply for the reasons for choosing this Left-biased comprehension for the higher secondary exam paper,” said Das.
The board had nothing to do with the paper, Deb said. The paper-setter hands over the question paper to the moderator who passes it on the TBSE in a sealed cover. The board sends the paper to printers without opening the envelope.
“Actually, there is no scope of eyeing the question paper before it is served to the candidates on exam dates,” Deb said. “The comprehension was taken from a report in some newspaper.”
Last year, the state government had come under opposition fire for doing away with Indian history for Class 9. The textbook had chapters on Karl Marx, Russian and French revolutions, Nazism, and even one on birth of cricket. Students are using the same textbook for their exams this year.
Manik Sarkar is heading the Left government for the last 20 years. He was sworn in as the chief minister for the fourth term in 2013. The state is due for assembly election next year.