Let Humour Remain in Indian Public Life: PUCL

Cartoon Controversy PUCL

PUCL (Rajasthan) protests against the removal of the Nehru-Ambedkar cartoon from the textbook stating that it is not objectionable by itself and that the text gets students to question cartoonist’s presentation of the “snail’s pace”

By Team FI

The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Rajasthan branch has issued a press statement expressing shock over the uproar in the parliament and subsequent removal of the cartoon of Nehru and Ambedkar from Class XII School text book. The issue was raised by Thol Thirumavalavan of Liberation Panthers Party, Tamil Nadu  in the Lok Sabha on last Friday. He was soon joined by politicians cutting across party lines. Union HRD Minister Kapil Sibal apologized over the “objectionable” content and told the media that he has directed removal of the material and stoppage of distribution of books. Here is the statement from PUCL;

The PUCL, Rajasthan branch and other intellectuals in the city are shocked at the unnecessary controversy created by a section of the Indian Parliamentarians with regard to  the cartoon of 1949 on Nehru and Ambedkar, on the pace of the making of the Indian Constitution, made by the eminent cartoonist Shankar Pillai and published in the Standard XI Political Science Text Book of the NCERT. What is extremely disturbing is the manner in which education minister Mr. Kapil Sibal apologised in Parliament and conceded to the demands of these Parliamentarians by stating that he has directed the NCERT to remove the material and stop the distribution of books. Not stopping there, he also stated that he had taken action by setting up a committee to look at the entire gamut of cartoons in textbooks and their content to ensure material of this nature is taken out of textbooks, before the next session.

We are absolutely certain that there is nothing objectionable in the Nehru-Ambedkar cartoon by itself and the text presented with it if at all is extremely laudatory of the hard work and democratic process that the constituent assembly had adhered to under the leadership of Sh. BR Ambedkar. And the question asked of the students in the context of the cartoon actually is getting students to question Shankar’s presentation of the “snail’s pace” represented. We would like to ask whether parties have really read the text with the cartoon or is it merely criticising to appease the Dalit vote bank which they represent.

In the past also texts have been deleted and books have been tampered with, and people have had cases filed against them merely in the name of upsetting public opinion. It is important to know that the endeavour of education is not to indoctrinate the minds of the young or teach them any one ideology. According to us the primary objective of education is to create a quest for enquiry and learning to think. Providing diverse points of view becomes essential to the educational process. Education essentially means having openness towards all points of views and also the young must know that there are many dimensions to any issue.

We all are well aware that both from the point of view of content and presentation the NCF 2005 and the books that were produced by the NCERT were a milestone in the history of education in India.  These books are also of high quality,  hardly seen before in our Government schools. These books create a questioning and critical mind in the children.  In terms of pedagogy these books are extremely innovative.

The PUCL strongly condemns the move of tampering with the content of these books and in particular the decision of removing the cartoons from the books, this needs to be opposed strongly.


One comment

  1. jenny says:

    If this is humour, it’s a dangerous one…this need not be in textbooks;
    What makes the PUCL believe that Shankar Pillai was uninfluenced by caste prejudices rampant in the Indian society?
    Good decision to set up a review committee to review all the cartoons to see if such viloence is perpetuated in the name of humor and satire in school textbooks

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