A leading Hindu educationalist supported by India’s new prime minister Narendra Modi has been accused of racism over his portrayal of ‘negroes’ as violent, half-baked criminals in school text books.
In a series of books approved for schools in Gujarat earlier this year when Mr Modi was the state’s chief minister, ‘negroes’ and the British are compared to shoes, described as ‘undercooked rotis’ compared to Indians. In one excerpt a ‘negro’ is portrayed as a violent criminal to be thrashed and tied up like cattle.
According to the Indian Express, the books written by Dina Nath Batra, an 84-year-old former teacher and veteran campaigner against criticism of Hinduism, who has long been associated with the Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh group.
His supporters successfully forced the publisher Penguin to pulp a book on Hinduism by the respected historian Wendy Doniger earlier this year because they were offended by its portrayal of their religion.
His descriptions of black people and foreigners as less civilized and worthy than Indians have emerged following a rise in racist attacks and sexual assaults against Africans living in India in the last year. A young Nigerian man was hacked to death in Goa last year by a mob and several African women were molested by an Indian residents’ group led by Delhi’s law minister earlier this year.
Campaigners said the same racism was clear in Mr Batra’s textbooks.
One of the books celebrates the beating of a “very strongly built negro” who tried to open a door during a flight.
“The pilot and the Indian together thrashed the negro and tied him up with rope. Like a tied buffalo, he frantically tried to escape but could not. The plane landed safely in Chicago. The negro was a serious criminal . . . and this brave Indian was an employee of Air India”, it explained.
Another book cites India’s late president Radhakrishnan telling a British man how his fellow countrymen were created by the Gods from uncooked rotis. “The second one (roti) stayed longer on the fire and the Negroes were born”. The Indians were made from the third when the Gods had mastered the method, it said.
Another tells the story of a Swami who was questioned because he wore Indian clothes but foreign shoes. “The place of the foreigner is here”, he explained.
Mnaya Davis, an African student leader in Delhi, said the portrayal of black people and foreigners was “medieval” and “racist”.
“We reject racism of any form. Such views on a particular community cannot be accepted in today’s India. Any racialism propagated on an institutional level will be detrimental to the Indian society and can create havoc in future,” he said.
Mr Batra was unavailable for comment.