The Maharashtra state education board takes dowry – one of the oldest maladies affecting Indian society – at face value, and quite literally at that.
A class 12 sociology textbook published by the board lists “ugliness of the girl” as one of the reasons for families seeking dowry at the time of marriage. This is how a particularly insensitive paragraph from chapter 3 of the book reads: “If a girl is ugly and handicapped, it becomes very difficult for her to get married. To marry her, the girl’s bridegroom and his family demand more dowry. The helpless parents of such girls are then forced to pay up…”
The book was used by thousands of students over the last two years to prepare for the Higher Secondary Certificate board examinations. Quite understandably, the assertions made in it have drawn widespread criticism from college professors.
“When I first read the chapter on dowry, I was shocked. How can they write such things in a board textbook?” questioned a Bandra college professor on the condition of anonymity.
She said professors tend to avoid reading this portion of the text in the classroom. “We have to be very careful while teaching from this book. Students call this particular chapter rubbish,” she added.
Board chairperson Gangadhar Mhamane refused to comment because he was busy attending a meeting.