The cause behind social evils such as dowry has been debated for years and social scientists are yet to arrive at a conclusive reason behind the rampant and widely accepted ill practice.
But it seems, authors of Class XII sociology textbook prescribed by the Maharashtra State Board have found the reason behind dowry- “ugliness and handicap” of girls.
The textbook, approved by Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Education for class XII, suggests that "ugly or handicapped girls" are the reason behind the social evil of dowry in the country.
A chapter in the sociology textbook titled "Major Social Problems in India", under sub-heading No 12 titled "Ugliness", reads: “If a girl is ugly and handicapped, then it becomes a very difficult for her to get married. To marry such girls bridegroom and his family demand more dowry. Parents of such girls become helpless and pay dowry as per the demands of bridegroom’s family. It leads to rise in the practice of dowry system (sic).”
Apparently, the textbook is being taught to the Class 12 students since the past three years, according to Maharashtra Education Minister Vinod Tawde.
Following a furore over the passage in question, the minister said he had discussed the matter with the Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Chairman Gangadhar Mhamane.
He argued that the issue was nothing new and is being taught to the Class 12 students since the past three years.
He, however, appealed to all to "keep politics out of education", while the matter was being tackled.
Besides "ugliness" and "handicap" for a marriageable girl, the chapter has listed other factors like religion, caste system, social prestige and compensation principle, and said that "generally all people give and take dowry".
Tawde added that the matter found "objectionable" would be placed before the concerned Board of Studies - which designs and approves the course syllabus - for its report.
After getting the report, the government will consider the next step in the issue, he said.
Education Department officials, preferring anonymity, could not confirm off-hand if the offensive paragraphs also appear in any other languages in which the Sociology subject textbook is prescribed.