Lucknow: Upside down pictures of India's national flag, chapters to teach the Hindi alphabet that say B for 'bomb' and 'C' for 'chaku' (knife)... These glaring anomalies have surfaced in two textbooks used in some Uttar Pradesh schools.
The books are being used under the state-run Uttar Pradesh board and the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), leaving parents fretting and education authorities scurrying for cover.
A moral education book for Class VIII children titled New Way Bloom shows an inverted Indian tricolour - a top to bottom colour sequence of green, white and saffron - in at least five places.
Published by Gurukul Publications, New Delhi, as part of the life skills syllabus, it was designed to teach young kids patriotism but seems to have turned things 'upside down'.
Bal Mukund, a basic shiksha adhikari or district education official of Moradabad, where the book is being used in a private school as part of the common syllabi of the NCERT under the Uttar Pradesh board, said it was a "serious offence" and action would be taken against the publishers.
When contacted, the publishers said the book was being withdrawn from the market with immediate effect.
"This is indeed a big blunder on our part," Ankur Julka, a staff member of Gurukul Publications, told IANS on phone from Delhi.
"We had outsourced the book designing to Book Zone in Uttam Nagar, New Delhi, and due to an oversight, missed such a glaring mistake," he said.
In the other blunder, children studying in nursery at many a private schools are being taught the varnmala or Hindi alphabet in a bizarre format. The book titled Aalok Shabd says B for 'bomb' and 'C' for 'chaku'.
Stunned parents have brought this book to the notice of the principals and teaching staff, which in turn lay the blame on the publisher - Prism House Publication.
Shruti Ahuja, a parent, said this was unacceptable. "How can one teach such words to kids of that age? Or for that matter of any age?" she asked.
Aarty Mishra Awasthy, a teacher by profession and a mother of two, was also angry.
"I'm amazed at how such words and books get into the syllabi," she exclaimed, hinting that these books "slip through" the system after publishers tempt school managements with commissions.
Being taught under the CBSE, the book has shocked the CBSE authorities as the board rules out inclusion of "words that patronize and promote hatred, violence and negative mindset" in its books.
CBSE city coordinator Javed Alam says strict action would be taken against the publishers of the 32-page book. "This sort of negative use of words cannot be tolerated," he said.
The publishers of this book could not be contacted.