PEOPLE’S UNION FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES
12th May, 2012
On the controversy created by the Indian Parliamentarians on the BR Ambedkar-Nehru cartoon
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 conceeded 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. The PUCL is bringing together intellectuals, literary minds, art lovers and will initiate a dialogue on this issue with public and the media.
Prem Krishna Sharma, M Hasan, Kavita Srivastava, Prakash Chaturvedi, Komal Srivastava, Radhakant Saxena, Vishwambhar, Govind Beniwal, Shiv Singh, Rajendra Saiwal and Rajeev Gupta
Address for Correspondence: 76, Shanti Niketan Colony, Kisan Marg, Jaipur -302015