Class 8 reference book in Rajasthan calls Bal Gangadhar Tilak ‘father of terrorism’

Ajmer: A reference book for Class 8 Social Studies describes freedom fighter Bal Gangadhar Tilak as the ‘father of terrorism’.
The book by a Mathura-based publisher is being used by private English-medium schools affiliated to the Rajasthan Board of Secondary Education (RBSE).
Textbooks by the Rajasthan State Textbook Board are published in Hindi, forcing students of English-medium schools to use reference books.
Describing Tilak, the book, on page 267 in chapter 22 under the heading ‘Incidents of National Movement during Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century’, says, “Tilak demonstrated a path towards national movement, therefore, he is called as the father of terrorism.”
“He clearly believed that ‘we cannot achieve anything just by pleading the British officers’. Through Shivaji and Ganpati festivals, Tilak aroused unique awareness in the country. He instilled the mantra of freedom among the masses, due to which he became a thorn in the eyes of British,” the book reads.
Tilak’s description as ‘father of terrorism’ seems to be more of a case of poor choice of words rather than the work of an ideologically motivated writer as nothing else in the context seems to fit the rogue description.
In the preceding paragraphs too, the book says that dissatisfaction among the people grew owing to government’s negligence towards the plague outbreak and goes on to say, “The fire was induced further by the spread of diarrhea,” thereby reflecting poor phrasing of content.
Students said that they are using the reference book as no other English medium book is available and books issued by Rajasthan board are in Hindi medium.
A principal of an Ajmer school which uses the book said he was not aware of the matter as he had joined a few days back only, but promised action after looking into it.
An official of the Student Advisor Publication Private Limited, which publishes the book, said the reference book is strictly as per the guidelines provided by the board.
“The book is being used by schools affiliated to both the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) as well as the RBSE,” said Mukesh Yadav over telephone from Mathura.
Historians said it is derogatory to call Tilak the father of terrorism.
“Tilak is one of the greatest soldiers of Indian freedom struggle who awakened Indian masses, especially in Maharashtra, to fight against tyrannical British rule,” said N K Upadhyay, retired professor of history at Maharshi Dayanand Saraswati University, Ajmer.
Another historian Pramila Poonia, too, called the description misplaced. “The British called him ‘father of Indian unrest’, but for us Indians, he was a great nationalist. He was the one who first pushed the ideas of boycott of English goods and use of swadeshi goods,” said Poonia, an associate professor of history at University of Rajasthan.
Textbooks of Rajasthan have previously been mired in controversies for sidelining the role of Nehru and Gandhi and valorizing that of Hindutva ideologue Vinayak Damodar Savarkar in the Indian independence struggle.
The revisions of textbooks by the ruling BJP government in the state were strongly criticized by the opposition Congress as “saffronisation of education”.

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