Spot Analysis: Oxford University Press insults learning process

The decision of the prestigious Oxford University Press (OUP) to delete references to pig, pork and sausages from the school text books in order to respect the religious and cultural sentiments of the Muslims and the Jews, has come as a shocker, given the tremendous contribution made by it to learning for over a century. The decision is a big blow to learning.

It is true that the Jews and the Muslims are forbidden from consuming pig or any of the delicacies from pig’s meat, which are otherwise popular food items in the Western world.

Suddenly, the officials and the decision makers at the Oxford University Press have woken up to the fact that such references are found in the numerous school and college textbooks that it prints and publishes every year and which go to over 150 countries, the world over.

Now the officials do not wish to offend the Muslims and the Jews or hurt their sentiments. There is no doubt such feelings and sentiments need to be respected, but blacking out information is not the solution. By making such references, neither the OUP nor any writer is insulting the Jews or the Muslims. But, by blacking out information on pigs, sausages, bacon or ham, the OUP is insulting free thought and the learning, to which it has contributed over the years.

In such a situation, will the Oxford University Press stop references to beef and its products from textbooks, as it hurts the sentiments of the Hindus; or black out references to any form of non-vegetarian food as it hurts the sentiments of the Hindus and the Jains? Why stop at that?Why not black out onions, garlics, potatoes, tubers and the lot, as these are not to be consumed by the Jains?

It will not be surprising if now some Hindu outfit asks for the deletion of all references to beef from OUP textbooks.

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