Literati condemn removal of ‘Jamun Ka Ped’ from ICSE syllabus

Hyderabad: The removal of the satirical story ‘Jamun Ka Ped’, (Black Plum Tree) penned by the noted Urdu and Hindi writer Krishan Chander, from the Hindi syllabus of Class X, has been strongly condemned by several literary figures in Hyderabad. Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) recently issued orders at a time when barely three months are left for the board examination. The decision was taken by the Board following an objection reportedly by “some officials of West Bengal”.

The story in question is actually a biting satire on red-tapism. According to reports, the officials saw the story, which had been in the ICSE’s Hindi (second language) syllabus since 2015, as a criticism of the present establishment.

According to the Telegraph, Gerry Arathoon, chief executive and secretary of ICSE, the decision was taken because the story was “not appropriate for Class X students.”

The story was written in the 1960s. It satirises bureaucratic red tape through the story of a man who gets trapped under a Jamun tree after a thunderstorm. The man later turns out to be a poet. Instead of rescuing him immediately, the officials keep passing the buck until the file of his rescue reaches the prime minister’s office. Unfortunately, by the time the order for rescuing the man is passed, the man is no more alive.

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Reacting to the Board decision, Sahitya Akademi award recipient and noted short story writer, Prof Baig Ehsas says, Krishan Chander had written the story when some other political party was in power. It should have been retained because if the students go for a government job in future, they would remember the lesson they studied in the school. Hopefully, they would not behave with people in the manner shown in the story. “It is unfortunate that they removed such a beautiful story though there was no direct attack on any government or any other particular department.”

Another well-known writer Dr Syed Mustafa Kamal, editor of Shagufa monthly magazine says that the forces in power are taking control over all the institutions and departments. They have no explainable reason for their decisions. “The story is a cutting-edge satire with a touch of humour. Krishan Chander was a great writer. Scrutinizing people just by their affiliation and removing their stories from the syllabus, is nothing but ignorance and prejudice,” he said.

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Writer Oudesh Rani lamented upon the intolerance of educationists and officials. She said red-tapism is firmly entrenched in the system. The present dispensation will not tolerate such kind of stories to be taught to students. Another reason behind the removal of the story, she believed, could be because Krishan Chander was a Leftist.

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