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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 June 2006, 12:31 GMT 13:31 UK
Humpty Dumpty ruled 'too Western'
Indian rhyme books
Indian nursery rhymes will replace English ones
It's goodbye to Baa Baa Black Sheep and Humpty Dumpty for children in primary schools in a central Indian state.

The Madhya Pradesh government has banned the teaching of English nursery rhymes in primary schools to "reduce Western influence" on children.

Indian rhymes will now replace their popular English counterparts.

"There is no need for English rhymes when there are Indian rhymes to infuse patriotism in children," says state education minister Narrotam Mishra.

They were melodious rhymes and children love to recite them as much as they love to recite Indian rhymes
School teacher Renu

He has asked government primary schools from now on to teach Indian rhymes and tales from the life of Ahilya Bai, the legendary ruler credited with building a number of leading temples in India.

"We want our children to have value education in local colour," Mr Mishra was quoted as saying by the Hindustan Times newspaper.

'Churlish'

Many teachers and parents say they are unhappy with the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-run state government's move.

Humpty Dumpty
Learning Humpty Dumpty is seen as unpatriotic

"They were melodious rhymes and children love to recite them as much as they love to recite Indian rhymes," Renu, a school teacher, told the BBC.

"Seeing everything in the light of native and foreign, ours and theirs, is not always good," added a parent.

The BBC's Faisal Mohammad Ali in Bhopal says the decision to drop English rhymes is being seen as part of the BJP's efforts to "nationalise" education and press for Hindu thoughts and values in the syllabus.

Leading academician Zamiruddin told the Hindustan Times that the decision was "churlish and thoughtless" unless the government replaced the rhymes with equally popular and easy-to-learn Indian ones.

Private schools are unaffected by the move - and of course nobody can stop the children reciting English rhymes away from state school classrooms, our correspondent says.

'Controversial'

English nursery rhymes have been the subject of many controversies around the world in recent years.

In 2000, education chiefs at Birmingham City Council in the UK published guidelines warning that the rhyme Baa Baa Black Sheep should not be taught in schools because it was "racially offensive".

The guidelines were dropped after black parents condemned the advice as ridiculous.

Three years ago, tongue-in-cheek Canadian researchers found that some nursery rhymes send dangerously inaccurate messages to young listeners.

They were concerned that characters in popular rhymes suffer major injuries without receiving proper treatment.

The characters include Humpty Dumpty, who had a great fall, and Jack and Jill, who tumbled down a hill.

A similar study by British doctors found nursery rhymes expose children to far more violent incidents than an average evening watching TV.


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