Tribal School Teacher Campaigns To Erase Chattisgarh's Textbook Nonsense On Women Causing Unemployment

23/09/2015 2:55 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
Soumya Garg

NEW DELHI -- Soumya Garg, a school teacher in the tribal village of Kansabel in Chhattisgarh, was stunned when she came across a paragraph in the government-issued Social Studies textbook, which says that working women are source of unemployment in India.

"This is an insult to women. We cannot teach this to young children," the 24-year-old teacher told HuffPost India over the phone on Wednesday. "We contribute to the GDP of this country."

"These lines suggest that only men in this country have the right to work, and women are taking away that right. By this, logic we could say that men are taking away women's rights to work. What nonsense," she said. "The laws of our country say that women have equal rights to men in every way."

Driven by the desire to serve her country, Garg, who majored in computer science in college, returned to the teach in the same school in which she had studied till Class X. But she can't really recall whether the offensive paragraph was in the textbook when she was in school. "I can't remember. Perhaps, it was, but I didn't notice when I was a child."

Garg decided against teaching the offensive paragraph to her class of 30 students at Saraswati Shishu Mandir, which includes 16 girls. But instead of quietly skipping over the material, she held a discussion with her students about why it was wrong.

"They agreed with me and so did other teachers in the school, but we didn't know how to get it changed," she said. "That happens a lot, people get together and talk about a problem or injustice, but they don't take any action."

social studies book

Reason For Unemployment

The Class 10 Social Studies textbook, issued by the Chhattisgarh Board Of Secondary Eduction, lists nine reasons for unemployment in India including - increase in population and employment for women.

"Very few women were employed before independence, but now women have started working in all sectors, which has led to an increase in the percentage of unemployed men," is the explanation provided in the textbook.


A Tweet To Smriti Irani

But Garg, who is also a women's rights activist in the Jashpur district of Chhattisgarh, was determined to take action against the offensive paragraph.

In 2013, she moved the Chhattisgarh High Court against the expression - "wear bangles and sit at home."

soumya garg

After discussing her options with her father, who runs a shop in the village of Kansabel, Garg filed an online complaint with the Chhattisgarh State Commission for Women on August 23 against the content in the Social Studies textbook.

In an attempt to garner attention for the issue, she sent out several tweets to journalists of leading news channels and politicians including Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled

Chhattisgarh's Chief Minister Raman Singh and Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani.

Several media outlets covered the story following The Times Of India report on Tuesday.

No Action On Complaint

Concerned about inaction, especially when the issues drops off the media radar, Garg said that she posted her online complaint with the Chhattisgarh State Commission for Women on August, 23, but no action has been taken, so far.

"A month has passed, there is no update in my online complaint," she said. "Now that the issue has come in the media, let us see if anything changes."

Speaking to HuffPost India on Wednesday, Khileshwari Kiran, a member of the State Women's Commission, ruled out a swift response because her colleague is unwell and they are waiting for their new chief to take charge.

"We have not decided on the matter yet. I can't take a decision on my own," she said. "It will take sometime."

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