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Updated: May 22, 2012 10:45 IST

Government to probe role of NCERT officials

Aarti Dhar
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Kapil Sibal
Kapil Sibal

Sibal favours review of all Political Science textbooks, feels "a number of cartoons are inappropriate"

The Union government will order an inquiry into the role of the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) officials in including the “offending” material in the political science textbook of Classes IX-XII and fix responsibility. It will also put in place a suitable mechanism to ensure that such instances did not recur.

This was announced on Monday by Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal in the Lok Sabha after members expressed concern over inclusion of such material in school textbooks. The Bharatiya Janata Party and the Telugu Desam Party even demanded Mr. Sibal's resignation over the issue.

The House saw an hour-long discussion on the issue during zero hour, with members suggesting that the impressionable minds of children were being “poisoned” by such cartoons. They alleged that an all-out conspiracy was on to project politicians in poor light, be it by the media or Bollywood.

Responding to the issues raised by members, Mr. Sibal said that in early April, the Ministry received information about an “offending” cartoon on page 18 of an NCERT textbook on Political Science of Class XI relating to Dr. B.R. Ambedkar with reference to the making of the Constitution.

He had sought an explanation from the NCERT, which in turn sought response from chief advisers of the Textbook Development Committee Suhas Palshikar and Yogendra Yadav. They responded with an elaborate explanation. “In light of the content and the explanation on record by Mr. Palshikar and Mr. Yadav, I directed that the offending cartoon be withdrawn from the NCERT textbook of Political Science of Class XI,” he said. Both have since resigned.

Mr. Sibal said that in early May he called for the textbooks relating to Political Science for Classes IX and XI and perused the contents, including the cartoons. “I found that a number of cartoons were inappropriate. I came to the opinion that a review of all textbooks of Political Science as well as a general review of all books of NCERT should be undertaken. I am of the view that a large number of depictions in these cartoons are offensive and inappropriate for textbooks,” he said.

On May 11, Mr. Sibal requested the NCERT Director to withhold further distribution of the textbooks and the latter informed the Ministry that all wholesalers who received copies of the books would be asked not to distribute them.

He said the textbooks were developed between 2005 and 2007 by Textbook Development Committees constituted by the NCERT and chaired by experts in the areas concerned. The textbooks were also approved by the National Monitoring Committee chaired by Mrinal Miri and G.P. Deshpande.

Mr. Sibal said:

“This government fully appreciates the sensitivities involved and the concerns expressed by members of this House to the nature of these cartoons and their inappropriateness in textbooks.

“The government fully appreciates these concerns and will take effective steps to ensure that henceforth textbooks take into account the sensibilities of individuals and communities.”

Raising the issue, Harsimrat Kaur Badal (SAD) said she was shocked to hear during a visit to a school that out of the 100-odd children she interacted with, none wanted to join politics. While seeking the reasons, she said that she came to know of the textbook in which cartoons denigrating politicians were incorporated.

Sanjay Nirupam (Congress) regretted that politician-bashing had become “fashionable.” It was all the more regrettable that the textbooks were brought out by the NCERT under the HRD Ministry, he said.

Yashwant Sinha (BJP) pointed out that not only were MPs and MLAs being made fun of, but the entire parliamentary and democratic structure was also being denigrated by some people.

Sharad Yadav (JD-U) said, “Such cartoons need mature minds to understand. The minds of the youngsters who are being taught are not.”

Lalu Prasad (RJD) said withdrawing cartoons and textbooks would not help in “clearing” the minds of the children who had been influenced by these books.

SP chief Mulayam Singh, T.K.S. Elangovan (DMK), Dara Singh Chauhan (BSP), M. Thambi Durai (AIADMK), Shatabdi Roy (Trinamool), Gurudas Dasgupta (CPI), Anant Geete (Shiv Sena) and Basudeb Acharia (CPI-M) expressed concern over the wrong depiction of politicians in a sustained manner.

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Mr.Sinha's observation that 'some people' are making fun of elected
representatives and denigrating the parliamentary and democratic
structure is indeed correct. But, that 'some people' are none other
than MPs/MLAs themselves, for there can be no smoke without fire.
Parliamentary process is really threatened when our MPs/MLAs stall its
working for trivial issues and side track core issues. Democratic
structure is threatened when legislators condemn people's freedom of
If a simple and plain cartoon seems to them that people are making fun
of them, then it also seems to people that MLAs/MPs are making fun of
people by not acting on their problems. Hope our representatives are
intelligent enough to make out which is the serious fun among them!
It shouldn't be a surprise, if our MLAs/MPs decide to pass a law that
no government action should be criticised however serious it may be,
as it shows them in poor light. Gosh! what would our media houses do
if were to come true.

from:  Praveen
Posted on: May 19, 2012 at 15:15 IST

Vote bank politics must be kept aside and must not be allowed to interfere in our education system . The minister cannot and must not be allowed to order the removal of the cartoons , punish scholars or investigate NCERT officials , without his or the Govt referring the matter to an academic committee.
The uproar in parliament over a 60 year old cartoon was nothing but brazen vote-bank politics . Our Ministers , MPs & MLAs claim to a monopoly of knowledge, wisdom and concern for the well-being of their constituencies and the nation may not be extended to the education system . Let our education system be left in the hands of a committee comprising academics , intellectuals , historians scholars & eminent persons only . Let this message go out loud and clear through THE HINDU also .

Posted on: May 18, 2012 at 10:32 IST

Nothing is wrong with the cartoon in question in the text book of political science. Cartoons are symbolic, and our approach is angular. There is no need of hue and cry from politicians when the authors, students, and teachers remain silent. Neither did Nehru nor Ambedkar, I think, oppose such a cartoon during their lifetime. Let there be some sort of argumentative elements in the (text) book of political science. Democracy is to accommodate different views. We have utmost regard for all those celebrated figures who contributed to the making of the Constitution. I request our Hon'ble Parliamentarians to be generous enough to cultivate a broad consensus over their parochial greed and creed.
We can remove it from the (text) book, but the cartoons will remain appealing to readers irrespective of publications, be it text book or reference book.

from:  Subhankar Basu
Posted on: May 15, 2012 at 18:18 IST

Impressionable minds ! These books were meant for std IX to XII. A year after they leave the school, these students become eligible to vote for Lok Sabha and Assembly elections. Why should they not get used to making sense of political cartoons ?
Only an ineffective government such as this will talk of banning innocuous cartoons but can do nothing about indecent depiction of women in mass media.

from:  Santhanam
Posted on: May 15, 2012 at 17:59 IST

This is the high and the right time when Mr. Sibbal Should resign. He has already done a big damage to the educational system by bringing CCE scheme and giving it a name of examination reforms. This system is hollowing the roots of the would be citizens of tomorrow. Experiments never work in educational systems.

from:  Syed A. Ahmed
Posted on: May 15, 2012 at 15:09 IST

Politicians nowadays are a sensitive lot... they take offense too easily. Maybe they should try cultivating a sense of humor. There are bigger issues to worry about then some political cartoons!

from:  Gouri N
Posted on: May 15, 2012 at 09:26 IST

don't want to comment may offend our great politician...

from:  r.s.dogra
Posted on: May 15, 2012 at 07:19 IST

1) Did Any politician protest for having good school and good teachers in rural area. any one raise quesiotn in the parliment.

2) So reprinting all the copy means . how much resource wasted. who is going to take incharge for that. looting public money and wasting by this way.

3) God please save our nation from congress and BJP. All are corrupted in this nation.

from:  madhan narayanan
Posted on: May 15, 2012 at 07:06 IST

Instead of blaming each other, the political class must indulge in self-retrospection to find out the reasons for degrading character of politicians in our country

from:  s.y.sastry
Posted on: May 15, 2012 at 06:24 IST

It would be more informative if you could provide the cartoon depicted
in the book.That would help us understand why the politicians want that
out? These politicians especially people like Kapil Sibal are just
wasting time and money of the people on trivial issues. My guess is the
authors who wrote the book decided to the shoe the true plight of indian
politics and democracy. This must have angered our beloved politicians.

from:  jothir mayanantham
Posted on: May 15, 2012 at 03:50 IST

When both Nehru and Ambedkar did not get upset about the cartoon I don't
understand what's the problem after 60 so years ?? These kind of antics
by the ministers and MPs will obviously increase the disregard they
already have created for themselves by being involved in corruption and

from:  Shravan
Posted on: May 15, 2012 at 00:33 IST

The effect a cartoon have on a image of a politician is no way near these thousand crore scams have. Children don't want to join politics because all they see is blame game played in politics. All they see is people crticizing politicians, they dont see any politician being praised, and thus they dont want to take this job. Indian politics is in a midst of a crisis where no party is in a condition or have a leadership to rule the country. Its about time that these politicians understand that they are here to rule the nation and not reprinting books.

from:  Prateek
Posted on: May 15, 2012 at 00:33 IST

Whats the problem? Cannot face the heat, don't want the criticism? By
the way what petty issues are they fighting at? When the people of this
country are feeling the burden of gas, petrol n now the diesel price

from:  Manya
Posted on: May 14, 2012 at 23:50 IST

The govt does not want to spoil the children by exposing them to the
cartoons in the text book. point taken. will it ask the cartoonists to
draw cartoon and if they wont budge, will the govt ask the parents to
hide the cartoons during the day from their and wards and enjoy it after
11 p.m. in the night,and destroy the cartoon, lest the children will

Posted on: May 14, 2012 at 23:48 IST

Tomorrow somebody will complain about a photo and then Sibal will
declare "No more Photos in text book"
Then the complaint will be on a chapter and the students will gt a blank
text book

from:  Sankar
Posted on: May 14, 2012 at 23:33 IST

Why don't you remove grammatical errors from your articles? Are you lazy
or just incompetent? As journalists, writing is part of your core

from:  GrammarNazi
Posted on: May 14, 2012 at 22:21 IST

don't know whether cartoons impact yound students' minds...but
definitely they have impacted an ageing sibal's mind.....he thinks
children will not understand how big idiots scream over useless
things!!!phew...pity on this fellow...

from:  naimish
Posted on: May 14, 2012 at 21:49 IST

Textbooks are meant for children & visual images help in better recollection of concepts, ideas etc... Besides a bag weighing more than 5 Kg should contain something intersting for the children...

from:  Jees
Posted on: May 14, 2012 at 21:07 IST

and funny thing is that neither teachers nor students asked for it.
this is the way to get diverted from not giving them what they want..e.g. good infrastructure for schools and good teachers and good salary to teachers. but here...highest priority is reprinting books!

from:  pradeep singh
Posted on: May 14, 2012 at 20:32 IST

It seems both ruling party and opposition are working on non-issues just to get an excuse for not being able to take any significant policy decision and ensuring its implementation. we have worst ruling-opposition combination in the history of parliament where both are cooperating destructively! no body seems to be caring about falling development indicators...India is among worst in South Asian nations even behind Nepal and Bangladesh in some indicators and all our parliamentarian care about some 60 year old cartoon which no body even gave enough attention till they discovered it as a (non-)issue to divert from essential work. and that's why we need need strong opposition too. no one has enough power so neither opposition dare for a no confidence motion nor govt is taking any significant policy decision.

from:  Pradeep Singh
Posted on: May 14, 2012 at 20:27 IST
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