Even as Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen on Saturday dubbed as "Islamizing" the West Bengal government's attempts to "secularise" school text books by replacing certain words, the government clarified the changes were introduced two years ago.
The government said the changes were introduced to keep with the linguistic trends
The term that has been under the scanner is "Rongdhonu" (bow of colours) which has replaced "Ramdhonu" (the popular Bengali word for rainbow) in the class 7 text book "Paribesh O Bigyan" (Environment and Science) of the State Board of Secondary Education.
Similarly, in certain portions "aakashia" (sky blue) has been done away with and "aasmani" has been introduced.
"Like Bangladesh, West Bengal started Islamizing school books," Nasreen said in a tweet.
According to Abhik Majumder, syllabus committee chairman, the officials felt "rongdhonu" was more appropriate to depict the natural phenomenon of rainbows, Aas it literally means bow of colours.
"We have done this in the year in 2013. Textbooks which were published in the year 2013, they bear the world rongdhonu.
"If you look at the writers of children's literature in Bengal, they have been using Rongdhonu instead of Ramdhonu in their books, for the past several years. So we thought we can borrow it from them and in a way it is more appropriate a word, because in a way it is bow of colours. It has nothing to do with Ram or Laxman or anyone else," Majumder told the media here, referring to the word coinage of authors Mahasweta Devi and Noboneeta Dev Sen to buttress his point.
Asked about the Urdu connotations in "aasmani", Majumder countered with references to poets Kazi Nazrul Islam and Rabindranath Tagore.
"Throughout the book we have used the word 'aakashi' but in some pages we have made them understand that the word "aasmani" carries the same meaning. Even Kazi Nazrul Islam and Rabindranath Tagore used the word. What is wrong in using old Persian and other words," wondered Majumder.
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