GUWAHATI, Nov 23 – A couple of pictorial books distributed among children in Anganwadi centres of Assam under the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) have been found to contain glaring anomalies in their contents.
Unless rectified at the earliest, such misinformation stands to frustrate the very objective of dissemination of information and shaping of impressionable minds of children. It is apparent that these books were distributed in the Anganwadi centres without proper scrutiny.
In Assam, there are 37,085 Anganwadi centres across the State’s 223 blocks.
In the pictorial book titled My First Picture Book which focuses on ‘birds’ and ‘wild and domestic animals’, a leopard (on page no 1) has been described as a ‘tiger’ (bagh in Assamese), whereas leopard and tiger are two separate species and not the same.
Similarly, a two-horned African rhinoceros (page no 1) has been simply defined as garh in Assamese and that too with an incorrect Assamese spelling. When we talk about rhinos in Assam, it is normal to refer to the famed Indian one-horned rhino only. On page no 4, there is a picture of a reindeer with a wrong Assamese word for its definition.
On page no 5 again, a leopard is referred to as a cheetah – a species long extinct in India. On page no 6, a black panther, too, has been wrongly described. In another picture of a leopard, it has been defined as a jaguar, which is native to South America.
In the part dealing with domestic animals, a rat and an African elephant have been shown as domestic animals. On page no 10, there is a picture of a hare, but it has been named as rabbit. Rabbits and hares are not the same species, and a hare cannot be termed a domestic animal. On page no 13, a monkey, too, has been defined as a domestic animal.
On page no 1 of the book on birds, a picture of a macaw has been shown as that of a parrot, even though both are distinct species. On page no 7, a green-backed tit has been identified as great tit although both are separate species. On page no 10, a white pigeon has been described as a dove. It is to be noted that sighting of a white dove has never been recorded in the world.
Anomalous contents apart, the books contain little information concerning author, publisher, publishing year, etc.
Besides, a number of species included in both the books are not found in the Indian subcontinent, i.e. African rhinoceros, reindeer, European bison, African elephant, bald eagle, cardinal, etc.
Since the Indian subcontinent is known for its rich biodiversity and shelters a large number of endemic and other endangered species, environmentalists believe that it would have been more appropriate to introduce such species to children rather than those not found in the region.