A page from the GK book that mentions Bhattacharjee as the chief minister of Bengal. Picture by Arup Sarkar
Durgapur, Dec. 6: Who is the chief minister of Bengal? Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, according to a general knowledge book that is being taught to schoolchildren in the state two years after Mamata Banerjee replaced him in a historic election.
Sumanta Jana, a Class VI student of a state-aided school in Durgapur, was studying for an exam when his father spotted the bloomer in the book that figures on a government-approved list.
Ranjit, a small trader, said: “Last week, my son was revising his lessons aloud a day before his final exams. I was surprised to hear him read out the names of Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Nirupam Sen as the chief minister and industries minister of Bengal. I took the book from him….”
“The name of the governor was printed as Gopal Krishna Gandhi,” he added.
Ranjit today lodged a complaint with the sub-divisional magistrate. He said he had gone to the school the next day along with some other guardians to complain.
“Managing committee secretary Sushanta Poddar misbehaved with us and asked us why we did not point out the mistakes when the books were distributed in January,” he said.
“There was a change in the government after 34 years. I think the publisher failed to take note of that,” Ranjit said, dripping sarcasm.
Two days later, he found out that the geography book too had not been updated. “I again went to the school and complained to the managing committee secretary,” he said.
The book says that train services between Calcutta and Digha are yet to start — Mamata had flagged off the service in 2009 when she was railway minister.
Both the general knowledge and the geography books were picked by Suren Chandra Modern School from a pool approved by the state’s education department. Both mention 2013 as the year of publication.
“Our teachers rectified the mistakes in class. I accept there was negligence on the part of the authorities and I apologise for it. But why are the guardians making an issue out of it at the end of the session? It is impossible for us to check every book,” Poddar said when contacted.
He said the school had decided to blacklist the two Calcutta-based publishers. The geography book (Bhugol Parichay) was printed by Santra Publication Pvt Ltd, the general knowledge book (Gyan Bichitra) was published by Sikshaniketan.
Biswajit Santra, director of Santra Publication Pvt Ltd, admitted the book had not been updated. “Every time we update a book, we have to get it approved by the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education. We had taken the approval before bringing out the first edition….” Santra said the teachers rectified the mistakes.
Sikshaniketan could not be reached for comment.
A senior official of the school education department, who asked not to be named, said: “If the district inspector of schools brings the matter to our notice, we will probe the matter and definitely take action.” There is no system in place to check if books with outdated information are in circulation.