Mumbai, April 4: In a shocker, a sociology textbook for nurses has claimed that the oft-reviled system of dowry is actually good for society and even helps parents of "ugly looking girls" to get them married off.
The "gems" of social wisdom are available in "Textbook of Sociology for Nurses", penned by senior author T.K. Indrani, and published by the New Delhi-based Jaypee Brothers Medical Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
Following a furore in Maharashtra academic circles, the publishers informed IANS that they will delete the offensive sections in their future editions of the same textbook.
The idea of dowry, termed as preposterous by many, figures in Chapter 6, Pg. 122, contending the main cause of accepting dowry by the groom's parents is that they have to, in turn, give dowry to their outgoing daughters and sisters.
"Naturally, they look to the (incoming) dowry of their sons to meet their obligations in finding husbands for their daughters," the book seeks to justify.
Contacted for comments, Samina Khan, a spokesperson for the publication house, said that the textbook author will not be revising the title.
"Whenever we go in for revised editions, this portion will be removed from the text," the company told IANS in an email.
Aghast at the developments, retired Mumbai college Prof. Mangal Gogte said the publishers must forthwith withdraw all the copies of the book from the market, remove the chapter giving offence, and then, only be allowed to be available for use.
"How can such trash be permitted by education bodies or the universities, what impression does it create on the young minds and the future generations...The book must be right away yanked off, make the changes before allowing it in the nursing colleges," Gogte urged.
Retired city junior college lecturer R.N. Desai wondered "who are the persons who cleared such nonsense for the students and how it was allowed to reach the students".
"Is there any official scrutiny, quality checks or academic committee under the state or central Education Ministry which whets such material before it cleared for academic purposes? Ideally, all the copies of the textbook must be taken out of the market... The poison must be removed as soon as possible," Desai demanded.
The chapter refers to how young boys earning high salaries or promising professional careers become "scarce commodities" and hence, their parents demand huge amounts of money from the girl's parents to accept her as their daughter-in-law.
The author lists several "merits and advantages of the dowry system", that is officially frowned on, while giving/accepting dowry is banned under the Indian laws.
Dowry helps (the young couple) in establishing their new household as the custom of giving things like cots, mattresses, television, fan, refrigerator, utensils, clothes and even vehicles are given by the girl to her husband in many parts of India, it said.
In the form of dowry, the girl automatically receives her share in the parental property at the time of her marriage, is another contention.
The dowry system helps spread education among girls as due to the burden of dowry, many people have started educating their girls, it also said.
"When the girls are educated or even employed, the demand of dowry will be less. Thus, it is an indirect advantage," says the textbook.
Finally, it claims that "ugly-looking girls can be married off with attractive dowry with well or ugly-looking boys".
Incidentally, around 6 years ago, similar claims on the "goodness of dowry", featuring in HSC textbooks of Maharashtra, had created a huge row.
The latest contentions on dowry have been slammed on social media groups with demands to take action against the author/publishers of using textbooks to spread utter misinformation about a 'societal evil'.