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Should we have Cartoons in Text Books and Books?

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Kapil Sibal’s decision to direct NCERT and wholesalers to hold back textbooks featuring cartoons is a move that has stirred attention. The committee set up by the government is to submit its report on June 15, 2012. The discussion in Lok Sabha has touched the topic that impressionable minds of students may not be the best to interpret and understand political humor like cartoons.

HRD Minister Kapil SibalThe books without cartoons

HRD Minister Kapil Sibal found many of the cartoons in the textbooks offensive and demanded deletion of an Ambedkar cartoon from the textbook. The debate has not been over cartoons per se, but about the context of cartoons and having them in textbooks with its potential to influence tender minds. The books without cartoons will be made available in a month’s time.

The anti-cartoon drive may come as an end to a broadly accepted creative experiment to provide students with some humour, and it has been met with the rage of MPs seethed against the use of satire on young minds. Republican Party member Ramdas Athawale took an exception to an Ambedkar cartoon on the legendary cartoonist Shankar that was published in a newspaper in 1949 and included in textbook five years ago. Protests against the Ambedkar cartoon became the spark to initiate the debate in the House. Jawaharlal Nehru may have bestowed Shankar with carte blanche on the subject of his cartoons but neither Nehru nor Babasaheb Ambedkar took exception.

Just like they say, there is always a reference, time and place for a cartoon. As newspaper cartoons depict the current tides and events, what may have been relevant and went unnoticed in 1949 may have the potential of creating a ripple in 2012. Ambedkar was a scholarly icon since Independence, symbolizing the wants of those oppressed and suppressed for centuries affirming their equality. The cartoon would have surely created in impressionable minds the wrong idea that Dr Ambedkar was lenient, whereas he chalked out a near-perfect Constitution in a span of two years.

On the move of rationale and the educational qualifications and intellectual bent of the editors, anchors and panelists and their belief in freedom of expression and tenets of democracy, the 63-year old cartoon that was published in the textbooks five years back, looks like a push to speedup up the process of framing the Constitution back in the day.

Cartoons making fun of leaders like Ambedkar finding their way into textbooks was the rage in Lok Sabha on Monday to drive government’s promise on the role of NCERT officials to ensure no repetitions.

The advisers to the NCERT should be prudent to know anything pertaining to Babasaheb, a figure of devotion amongst millions across the world, should have been approached with sensitivity and empathy. There was nothing that made it vital for them to include this cartoon in the textbook.

Source of image : Image1, Image2


Add Your Comment:

i don't know how it is unacceptable to add a wee bit of humor to an otherwise boring subject..and everyone knows cartoons are not meant to be taken seriously..even the children..and when great minds like Dr Ambedkar didn't take offence to it.i have no idea why does our honorable HRD minister raise a hue and cry about it..
Fri,May 18th 2012 2:31 AM
Such kind of opposition reflect intellectual bankruptcy of our political class in addition to the crookedness. Many of them know that there is nothing wrong in cartoon, but hypocrisy is order of the in POLITICS. They are not really interested in welfare of downtrodden, except their own welfare and vote bank politics
Fri,May 18th 2012 2:11 AM
Dear fair minded fellow citizens.
The cartoon is about sixty years old and reflects the tardiness of writing the constitution. There are two promient figures, one is Nehru and the other is Ambedkar.

The cartoon is in circulation from 2006 and nobody bothered all these years.

How suddently the cartoon hurts the sentiments?

Is it the tom foolary of the politicians or the tyranny of majority??

Let us not have pseudo democracy and double standards. Whether we want lierty of expression within accepted norms or partial censorship of the creative art and expression.
Thu,May 17th 2012 11:31 PM
It is ridiculous to say that THE CARTOON is derogatory or insulting to any one. It just only says that the constituent assembly was working at slow speed where one person can not be responsible as it was gathering of several individuals. Even if the person was responsible for slow working, saying so is not insulting. We Indians lack Common sense !!
Thu,May 17th 2012 9:55 PM