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Shankar/ Children's Book Trust/ NCERT
B R Ambedkar cartoon in NCERT's STD XI Political Science text book.
NCERT Asked to Remove Ambedkar Cartoon: Sibal
Agreeing that Ambedkar's cartoon in an NCERT textbook was objectionable, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal today said orders have been issued to withdraw it and stop distribution of these books, and promised concrete action in the matter.

Responding to concerns expressed by members in Rajya Sabha, Sibal said the Government will also examine whether any criminal offence was made out against those who drew or included the cartoon of B R Ambedkar in the textbook.

Admitting that there were many other objectionable cartoons of political leaders in NCERT textbooks, he said his Ministry has decided to constitute a Committee of experts to look into cases of all such objectionable cartoons and remove them.

Meanwhile Sibal "apologised" over the objectionable content. He appealed to political parties not to make it an issue for vote bank politics.

"...I am willing to personally apologise for it though I was not the minister at that time in 2006. I was involved in the publication of the books," Sibal told reporters outside Parliament House.

He said there was no question of anybody trying to malign Ambedkar or anybody trying to make fun of him because that "will be against the secular ethos of our country".

Sibal said much before the issue came to Parliament, he had taken action on it and set 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.

"When I got information in the beginning of April, I wrote a letter to NCERT that such a cartoon should not be there as it is objectionable...On April 26, 2012, I wrote to NCERT stating that it is considered advisable to withdraw the cartoon. After this, they set up a Committee to examine this," Sibal said.

"Then I called all textbooks and found there are many other such cartoons about other leaders which are objectionable. I decided to set up a Committee to look into all textbooks and told NCERT to stop distribution of all books immediately," he said.

When asked by BSP member Mayawati as to what action the Government was taking against those responsible for inclusion of Ambedkar cartoon in textbooks and by when would action be taken, Sibal said, "Nothing objectionable about Babasaheb Ambedkar will be allowed and action will be taken so that this is not repeated."

Sibal, however, said, "it is up to the courts to decide what provisions of law have been violated," at which Mayawati asked him that the Government should move the courts and register FIRs.

Clarifying that the textbooks are made by an independent textbook authority - Textbook Development Committee, which comprise academics and not officials of NCERT.

Yogendra Yadav and Suhas Palshikar resigned as advisors of NCERT text book council in the wake of the row over cartoon of Ambedkar in school text books.

"Yogendra Yadav who was the chief advisor of the Textbook Development Committee and Suhas Palshikar who was the member of the committee have resigned," sources in HRD Ministry said.

Palshikar said he has quit the advisor council in the wake of the uproard in Parliament over the issue.
Sources in NCERT said they were already in the process of constitution of a new committee.

Sibal said none of the existing members of the present Textbook Committee, which had approved the book, will be part of the new Committee set up to examine objectionable caricatures.

Sibal said textbook committee will be headed by Haridev Vasudevan of Kolkata University and have Yogendra Yadav of Centre for Social Development Studies (CSDS) as its member.

He said the Government will not allow Ambedakar to be "disparaged" like this.

Observing that the cartoon in the textbook was brought to his notice by Congress MPs, Sibal said Ambedkar belonged to the nation and did not belong to one particular community or party.
Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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Digression

42/D-77
May 15, 2012
11:40 AM

Our esteemed Parliamentarians, cutting across party lines, have called for the removal of a cartoon, which is "offensive" in their minds, because they think that impressionable young minds will carry a negative impression of politicians. Will they stop there?

The logical follow up is to ban all political cartoons and legislate deterrent punishments if the sentiments of any politician, living or dead, are hurt. All it requires is for a politician to say he is hurt; that is sufficient evidence to lock up the errant cartoonist and throw away the key.

The next step is to ban live telecasts of Lok and Rajya Sabha proceedings; just imagine what the young minds will think of honourable members behaving in a highly undisciplined manner, throwing chairs and breaking mikes, tearing papers, storming the wells, speaking out of turn. The best of the lot are probably sleeping blissfully or absorbed in their iPads or iPhones or whatever. But of course, the honourable members are lawmakers and hence cannot be subject to laws made by them. They are beyond the pale of law.

What next? Television debates in which politicians behave in an undignified manner, blatantly lie and rant? What about news bulletins which repeat ad nauseum about astronomical sums of unaccountedmoney being discovered, scams tumbling out into the open with amazing frequency, honourable lawmakers caught in flagrante delicto and so on?

What about history? Wipe out all references to the invasion of India, the riots, the acts of terrorism......history should be sanitised so that impressionable minds have a picture of the real world, a world inhabited by honest, altruistic politicians with halos, a world full of peace and tolerance.

Surely, the world is not as bad a place as the evil media portraits it. Amen.

D.L.Narayan, Visakhapatnam
41/D-133
May 14, 2012
11:55 PM

 Ganesan,

Please have a look at www.outlookindia.com/feedbacks.aspx where I have shown how through cartoons the authors have explained the draw backs in the constitution making for European Union and Iraq and how the making of Indian Constitution was more deliberate and  mature and hence time consuming. Please read the above posting atleast if you can not be expected to go through the text books.

R. Saroja, Bombay
40/D-127
May 14, 2012
11:30 PM

 "Can someone explain why it is insulting to Ambedkar ? "

It is not about insults but appropriateness. Such cartoons need not be included in NCERT books. Evaluating and criticizing Ambedkar is fair game but school students need not do it. 

In this specific instance, the issue of who is responsible for the delay is a good question to analyze for BA History students. Not for school students.

Ganesan, Nj
39/D-123
May 14, 2012
11:16 PM

I checked this cartoon again and I did not find anything wrong with it. It is a commentary on slow pace of constitution. Both Nehru and Ambedkar are trying to move this forward as fast as they can. Ambedkar is riding the snail because he was part of the team that wrote constitution. So it actually talks about efforts of both Ambedkar and Nehru to move this forward. I really donot understand the fuss about it. Can someone explain why it is insulting to Ambedkar  ? 

Maha
NJ, United States
38/D-119
May 14, 2012
10:10 PM

After reading this news item and a reproduction of the cartoon and the accompanied text  I wonder if it is the same country India where I was born and brought up! Even when Mrs. Gandhi was in power, cartoons were integral part of Indian newspapers and I don't remember politicians objecting to cartoons. In fact cartoons often communicate a critical issue much better using humor. It appears Indian politicians were better educated in the past. Currently India  is run by the semi literate leaders who lack the basic comprehension skills- forget about sense of humor-

This cartoon was published in 1949. Only the jaundiced eyed morons can take objection at this cartoon which was a funny take on the snail's pace of drafting India's constitution. With Ambedkar riding the snail with a flog in his hand and Nehru standing behind holding another , it was a great take on the two leaders trying desperately to move the drafting process. Obviously it reflects the contemporary criticism that the drafting was taking too much time. As our experience would show in the next six decades the constitution of India has proven its resilience through the test to times. The contemporary criticism of a slow drafting process was found misplaced given the effectiveness of the constitution to promote and strengthen democracy in India.

However, when people talk of deleting a dated cartoon from a text book originally published decades ago they hurt the same democracy that Ambedkar himself tried to defend as an architect of India's constitution.

Sorry Sanket Biswas, I can't see Nehru or anybody insulting Ambedkar in this cartoon. But then, you have jaundiced eyes. You only read Bramhinical last names of Bengal's leaders Buddhadev and Mamata to form your opinion about CPM and Trinamul Congress.
 

Nehru and Ambedkar must be turning in their eternal resting place hearing the quality of issue debated in the parliament. I can imagine Ambedkar would have burst into a hearty laughter seeing reaction of modern Indians to a cartoon of his times.

DC, NEW YORK
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