NCERT to examine recommendations of panel on cartoon issue



New Delhi: A textbook review committee of NCERT will on Wednesday will examine the recommendations of a panel which has suggested removal of certain cartoons on politicians from a political science book.

The six-member panel which was set up following the row over BR Ambedkar's cartoon in class IX-XII textbooks has also recommended some changes in words and phrases with negative implications.

Headed by Sukhadeo Thorat, chairperson of the Indian Council of Social Science Research, the panel in its report submitted to HRD Minister Kapil Sibal last week, has sought removal of some RK Laxman cartoons from the textbook, a cartoon of Shankar and that of Surendra among others contending they were "ambiguous" and portrait politicians in "incorrect way".

However, one of the panel members MSS Pandian has issued a dissenting note as he found nothing inappropriate in the book.

"I did take into account suggestions by subject experts and concerns expressed by political parties, educational and other NGOs and intellectuals. I do not find, let me confess, contrary to my expectations anything educationally inappropriate in them and they should be used as they are," he said in his note.

One of the Laxman's cartoons, which the Thorat panel has sought removal, is that of a beggar holding a bowl out to garland Indira Gandhi and a Shankar cartoon showing Jawaharlal Nehru using his foot to propel a politician up into a building labelled governorship.

The panel has suggested removal of these content as it conveys a "sense of ambiguity".

It also asserted that "BR Ambedkars's position as a chairman of the Drafting Committee should be mentioned appropriately" in the textbook.

Pandian in his dissenting note felt that "what is often being perceived as politically incorrect need not be educationally inappropriate".

He stated that the role of visual material in textbooks does not merely illustrate the text, but engages with it in a critical dialogue, opening up spaces for learners to enquire, question and interpret.

"Given the pedagogical method, text and visuals cannot work independent of each other. Doing them apart will be pedagogically deleterious. Visuals even do not spare even the textbook writers," he noted.

The panel, in its report, also recommended removal of a cartoon of the class IX book stating that the cartoon focusing on Amul and reservation look like just filling the space and also about negative massage about reservation.

It also suggested modification of the content of a cartoon in class X which says "Do you think that Indian Parliament is a divided House blocking the passage of the Women's Reservation Bill?"

"What does this cartoon claim? It is not clear. At the time of review of textbooks it may be modified," the panel said.

PTI