New Delhi: The Central Board of Secondary Education has announced that it will drop a reading comprehension passage in the Class 10 ‘English Language and Literature’ paper that many has deemed misogynistic and regressive.
All students will be awarded full marks for the questions that are based on the passage in question, the Board said.
The passage appeared to indicate that parents could no longer command the obedience of their children because the mother was emancipated and the father was no longer on a pedestal.
A question on the passage – which was in the reading comprehension section of the paper – asked whether the writer of the passage
a) “seems to be a male chauvinist pig/an arrogant person;”
b) “takes a light hearted approach to life;”
c) “is a disgruntled husband;” or
d) “has his family’s welfare at his heart.”
The correct answer, according to the board’s answer key, is the option (b).
The passage takes off with the issue of why teenagers appear to be in a world of their own.
“Various causes can be found for this state of affairs, but the first in importance is clearly the lack of parental authority in the home. This depended, more than a century ago, upon the convention of the husband being the master of his own house. The wife gave him formal obedience, realising that upon this depended her authority, in turn, over the children…”
It meditates on the removal of the “father’s word as holy writ” and notes that while “with some hesitation their claim of equality was conceded,” there is an apparent glaring flaw in the plan:
“What people were slow to observe was that the emancipation of the wife destroyed the parent’s authority over the children. The mother did not exemplify the obedience upon which she still tried to insist… In bringing the man down from his pedestal the wife and the mother deprived herself, in fact of the means of discipline.”
The passage also noted that the mother’s subordinate role in the house allowed “children and servants…to know their place.”
Question reaches parliament
This led to angry reactions among parents and political participants. Among those to take to Twitter was Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, the Congress’s general secretary for eastern Uttar Pradesh, her brother Rahul, former Congress president, and their mother Sonia, who noted in parliament that the inclusion of such a passage, “…[R]eflects extremely poorly on the standards of education and testing and it goes against all norms and principles of… empowered society.”
Most #CBSE papers so far were too difficult and the comprehension passage in the English paper was downright disgusting.
Typical RSS-BJP ploys to crush the morale and future of the youth.
Kids, do your best.
Hard work pays. Bigotry doesn’t.
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) December 13, 2021
Following outrage over the passage, which appeared in one of CBSE’s various versions of the Class 10 paper, the public relations officer of the Board, Rama Sharma said late on Sunday, December 12, that the matter will be referred to subject experts. Sharma also accepted the contention that the answer to the above quoted question is a subjective one.
“As regards the correct answer option and the answer key released by the board, it is clarified that if the experts opine that the passage elicits multiple interpretations, appropriate action will be taken to protect the interests of the students,” the PRO said in a statement.
On Monday, the Controller of Examinations Dr Sanyam Bhardwaj noted in a statement that the recommendation of the committee of subject experts and the contravention of “guidelines of the board with regard to setting of question papers” have necessitated that the passage will be dropped.
Gujarat riots question
The CBSE has had to issue an apology after there was outrage following a question in the Class 12 paper for sociology this year. The question was, “The unprecedented scale and spread of anti-Muslim violence in Gujarat in 2002 took place under which government?” The Gujarat riots took place under the Bharatiya Janata Party’s rule. The chief minister then was Narendra Modi, who is now prime minister. However, the CBSE later described the question as an “error” without clarifying what the error was.
This article was first published on The Wire.