In Bengal school exam, question on ‘harmful effect of ‘Jai Shri Ram’ slogan
The Bengali language paper of Akna Union High School in Hooghly district asked class 10 students to write how the Jai Shri Ram slogan was generating adverse effects in society and how the return of ‘cut money’ was benefiting people.Updated: Aug 08, 2019 17:57 IST
The Bengali language paper of Akna Union High School in Hooghly district, 55km from Kolkata, asked class 10 students to write how the Jai Shri Ram slogan was generating adverse effects in society and how the return of ‘cut money’ was benefiting people.
The students, in the exam held on August 5, were asked to write a ‘report for a newspaper’ on any one of the two – ‘harmful effects on the society of chanting Jai Shri Ram’ or on the ‘bold step of the government to stop corruption by returning cut money.’
The reference was obviously to the BJP workers shouting Jai Shri Ram slogans during election rallies and later greeting Chief minister Mamata Banerjee with the chants wherever she went prompting her to declare that her party would counter BJP’s slogan with the Jai Hind and Jai Bangla slogans.
The ‘cut money’ is a reference to Mamata Banerjee asking those who embezzled funds from government welfare schemes through ‘cut money’ (commission) to return it to the original beneficiaries. BJP leaders, through the Lok Sabha election campaign, had often referred to ‘tolabazi tax’ to refer to this commission
“No one has lodged any complaint but we took steps on our own. We decided to cancel the question. If anyone attempted to answer it, the student would be given full marks,” said headmaster Rohit Pyne. “Subhasish Ghosh, the Bengali teacher who set the question paper has apologised,” added Pyne.
BJP leaders lashed out at both the school authorities and the ruling Trinamool Congress. “It is clear that the school authorities have taken up the responsibility of beating the drum for Trinamool Congress. They accuse us of saffronising education, but now the people of the state should see what they are doing. The teachers have become slaves of the ruling party. I don’t have words strong enough to condemn it,” said Subir Nag, president of Hooghly district organisational unit of the BJP.
Nag also pointed out how in early 2017, the movement of returning the land of the Tata Motors plant in Singur led by TMC chief Mamata Banerjee was made a part of the class 8 history books in the state. Six pages of the 10-page chapter entitled “Jamin Jal Jangal: Jiban Jibikar Adhikar O Ganaandolan” were devoted to Mamata Banerjee’s Singur movement.
Though senior TMC leaders chose not to respond on the question controversy, Gopal Roy, the karmadhyakha (official in charge) of education in the Hooghly Zilla Parishad (district council) said, “Current topics are chosen to ask students to write reports for a newspaper. An individual is entitled to have an opinion on the subject. Therefore, there is no room for controversy. But now a section of the people is trying to take the opportunity to stir controversy.”
However, Nirmal Ghosh, the deputy chief of Akna gram panchayat, who is also a local TMC leader said, “Such a political question would create confusion in the minds of the students.”
Incidentally, the question carried an error. The state government did not ask for the return of cut money. Banerjee made the appeal at a party programme (where mainly councillors of the party in the state’s civic bodies were present) and the administrative machinery was not involved in it.
First Published: Aug 08, 2019 16:44 IST