Council&’s diktat: Publishers at a loss

poulomi ghosh
[email protected]
Kolkata, 7 July
If the new directive of the Higher Secondary Council is taken seriously by the publishers, Class XII books are going to look drab and monotonous. In a recently issued circular, West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education (WBCHSE) has asked the publishers not to use photographs of any current or historical personalities in their books. 
Use of unnecessary photographs, footnotes and references has also been prohibited in this directive.
The publishers are confounded as they have no idea how to come up with History books without photographs of historical personalities. 
Though, many Class XI books have not yet reached the market, HS Council has started preparation for Class XII books. Publishers have been asked to submit their books to HS Council for approval latest by 3 October. These books based on new curriculum are scheduled to be introduced next year in Class XII. 
Apart from many new instructions, the directive says, “The Council discourages use of photographs of any current or historical personalities and use of unnecessary photographs, references and footnotes in the book.” Since, there is no mention of any particular subject, it seems to be applicable for all subjects, said a publisher.
 “It sounds very strange and we are not getting the idea behind it. The Council did not clarify whether use of photographs is increasing the volume of books or whether there is any other reason. Now, we have to seek clarifications. It will take another week to get these clarified and thus we will be left with little time to prepare the books,” added the publisher.  As per general practice, writers add “footnotes” either to accommodate any explanation or to add any comment. Similarly, “references” provide additional resources to a certain topic which the student might consult for further reading if he or she is interested. “This is an unusual instruction. In our childhood, we learnt so many things from “footnotes”. Not every student follows footnotes of every page and every subject. But if you develop fondness for any subject or a particular chapter of any subject, footnotes  be of some help. And at HS level you must look out for additional resources if you are planning to pursue that subject in higher studies. Hence, putting an embargo on the use of footnotes seem strange,” said a veteran writer. Admitting that such a directive has been issued to the publishers, Professor Muktinath Chatterjee, president, WBCHSE said: “This is an internal decision. I will not discuss it.”