The US-based digital reading platform, Epic is built on a collection of 40,000+ books from 250 plus publishers—that claims to fuel curiosity and reading confidence for kids up to 12. The platform is open to all including students and teachers living outside the US. It recently introduced a book on Modi, the current Prime Minister of India widely known as the Butcher of Gujarat responsible for the killing of Muslims during riots after the demolition of Babri mosque in 1992.
How would a Jewish family feel if they find that their fourth-grader is reading a book on Hitler that presents him as a world leader and hero? How would American families react when they learn that their 8-year-old child reads a book on Osama bin Laden showing him a great revolutionary in the fight against the Russian invaders in Afghanistan?
What would you say to a Muslim American family of Indian origin from Gujarat who lost several relatives in the 2002 carnage, whose child, after reading a book on Prime Minister Narendra Modi as an iconic and world leader, told them, “I want to be like Modi?”
It is what many such families are facing in their homes when they or their children log in to the digital reading platform and read books on the world’s great leaders.
By the name of Amina, a Twitterati wrote: “My 4th grader casually mentioned to me today that the “EPIC” reading app, the public schools all over the US have under their curriculum, a book on Narender Modi by the same title!
“I was baffled as to why little elementary school level American kids are reading a book on a mass murderer & a dictator of heinous crimes…I read till chapter 5 to verify it’s contents. The book claims that NM didn’t only go to the university for his bachelors but also a Master’s. It frequently pointed out the corruption, crimes of the congress party & went to praise him all the while. It seemed to me that the book justified his doings.”
The US government banned Modi in 2005 for his involvement in the Gujarat massacres of Muslims. More than a million Muslims suffered. Terrorists belonging to his party raped hundreds of women, killed scores of people, and destroyed property worth millions. Modi was a persona non grata in the US and remained prohibited until 2014 when the Obama Administration lifted the ban under the United Nations’ diplomatic status policy.
Modi has no record of having either a bachelor or Master’s degree and is a member of a fascist organization that praises Hitler even 70 years after his death. Like his party leaders, he believes in a Hitler-like solution of India’s minority problem. In his saffron party, he was known to revere Nathu Ram Godse who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi, the apostle of peace.
Why would Epic include such a book to be part of the curriculum? Who authorized it? What was the role of the Hindutva lobby and the government of India in promoting this book in the US education system? These questions are important to raise.
The book is by Alexis Burling, who claims to be an accomplished writer. I recently wrote to her the following:
“I had the opportunity to read your book on Modi. It is not factual and misses several essential issues, and promotes the lies that Modi has a Master’s degree. There is no record of even his bachelor’s degree. He presided over the carnage of Muslims in India. The US banned him from visiting the country from 2006 to 2014 for his involvement in the massacre. I am disappointed that the writer of your stature would produce a book that would mislead people. The book also ignores the fact that he belongs to the RSS, a party whose members killed Mahatama Gandhi and praises Hitler. I do not want my children to read a book honoring a murderer.”
Perhaps the education community should look into the matter and ensure that no foreign entity interferes with our children’s educational upbringing.