Textbook advises Students to Write Emails as short as skirts, Stirs Controversy

A textbook for B Com written by an ex-prof of Delhi University says, “Email messages should be like skirts--short enough to be interesting and long enough to cover all the vital points.”

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New Delhi, June 6, 2017: An outrage has been sparked by a BCom (Honours) textbook that tells students to write emails short enough to be interesting like skirts. The book, authored by CB Gupta, a former head of the commerce department of a Delhi University-affiliated college and titled ‘Basic Business Communication’ is widely prescribed to the students by the professors of BCom (Honours) in many colleges under the affiliation of DU.

The book has been in print since over a decade now. The controversial statement says, “Email messages should be like skirts–short enough to be interesting and long enough to cover all the vital points.”

According to an anonymous student, “some students from socially and economically weaker sections have a tendency to memorise everything written in the textbooks, without realizing that such analogies may legitimize casual sexism in our society. Thankfully, we are able to realize and question the reliability of such textbooks in our course. Why didn’t anyone question this statement in this book which is being reprinted since years?”

According to PTI reports, Professor CB Gupta, now a septuagenarian, expressed his regret for unintentionally hurting people’s sentiments and he also said that the analogy was taken from an article by a foreign author. Gupta said that he has already deleted the statement from his book and will also advise the publisher to remove the content before the publication of the latest edition.

To answer the question on why such an analogy was made in the first place, Gupta admitted it to be a mistake on his part and added that he had resorted to an article of a foreign author for that particular analogy. Gupta said, “It was not to hurt anyone. I took the analogy from an article written by a foreign author.”

Recently, another similar outrage was created on social media by a class 12 physical education textbook that defined 36-24-36 to be the “best body shape for females”. Critics and educationists demanded this statement to be withdrawn.

In another such instance, a book, part of the Delhi University’s history curriculum had called Bhagat Singh a “revolutionary terrorist”. This prompted the family of the freedom fighter and national hero to discuss the issue with university authorities as well as the HRD ministry.

Recently, The Madras High Court had directed the CBSE for the removal of alleged objectionable content in a social science textbook for students of class 9 about the Nadar community.

A DU professor who intends to remain anonymous believes that a textbook should be neutral and provide balanced viewpoints. The rest should be left to the students to form an opinion. Hopefully, more awareness among textbook authors will be created by such controversies.

– prepared by Durba Mandal of NewsGram. Twitter: @dubumerang