India orders inquiry into sexist textbook describing female body shape 36

NEW DELHI,(Xinhua): The Indian Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) in charge of education has ordered an investigation into a school textbook that described feminine proportions of 36″-24″-36″ as “the best,” officials said Friday.

The ministry's action comes in response to a sexist passage from a textbook on Health and Physical Education describing physical and anatomical differences between male and female bodies and underlined the “best” body shapes.

“There is a vast difference in the shape of males and females, 36″-24″-36″ shape of females is considered the best. That is why in Miss World or Miss Universe such type of shape is also taken into consideration. The V shape body in case of males is considered the best,” reads the passage from the Class 12 textbook.

HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar has condemned the “sexist” book and asked for “appropriate action.”

“I have instructed officers to take strict action against those behind this textbook and all schools should ensure they have proper books,” Javadekar told the media.

The textbook was taught in some schools which follow India's Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) syllabus and has been published by a New Delhi-based private publisher – New Saraswati House.

The HRD minister said he instructed all CBSE schools to use National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) textbooks.

The contents from the book triggered row and photographs of the passage in question were widely circulated on social media, triggering condemnation.

Reports said CBSE officials have ordered schools to stop teaching the book.

Indian textbooks often trigger controversies.

In February a passage from textbook in the western Indian state of Maharashtra caused outrage after it listed “ugliness” as a reason for the increased demand for dowry.

“If a girl is ugly and handicapped then it becomes difficult for her to get married. To marry such girls the bridegroom and his family demand more dowry,” the passage from textbook read.

Likewise, a publisher was forced to withdraw a Class fourth environmental science textbook that suggested students to “kill a kitten” as part of an experiment to prove “how mammals needed oxygen.”

The book evoked sharp condemnation from animal rights activists.