The six-member committee, constituted to review ‘inappropriate' cartoons in the political and social science textbooks for Class IX-XII, held its first meeting here on Tuesday amid questions over the inclusion of a professor in the panel. His Class XII textbook was withdrawn as part of project ‘detoxification' by the UPA government in 2004.
The maiden meeting was a formal affair. Prof. A.S. Narang of the School of Social Sciences at the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) — the only political scientist on the panel — had authored the political science textbook (Democracy in India — Issues and Challenges, 2003) for the NCERT during the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) regime.
The committee is chaired by S.K. Thorat, chief of the Indian Council of Social Sciences and Research (ICSSR) and includes Patricia Mukhim, editor of Shillong Times and social worker; Prof. M.S.S. Pandian, a historian; Abha Malik, teacher of social sciences, Sanskriti School; and Saroj Yadav, head of the department of Education in Social Sciences (NCERT).
Report in a month
It has been mandated to submit its report within a month and identify educationally inappropriate materials in social science/political science textbooks.
“It was an introductory meeting with the members going through the books carrying inappropriate cartoons and drawing up a road map for reviewing, including seeking opinion from child psychologists,'' one of the members told The Hindu. They were given a presentation by the NCERT on the broad objectives of the National Curriculum Framework-2005 and its linkage with the books.
When contacted by The Hindu, educationist Vinod Raina said: “The review panel should have had members of eminence. There are some very good political scientists. It looks like a hasty job.”
“The issue is not with regard to who is on the panel but the hurry in which the material was removed from the textbooks without any expert opinion. The government should have either asked the NCERT to set up a review committee or at least waited for the present committee to give its opinion,” Prof. Zoya Hassan of the Jawaharlal Nehru University said.
Prof. Hassan was a member of the National Monitoring Committee that approved the textbooks containing the cartoons and co-chaired the committee that examined the communal content in the textbooks published during the NDA regime, often referred to as the ‘detoxification' exercise.
Another educationist Arjun Dev said the National Curriculum Framework-2005 needed to be evaluated as also the textbooks prepared after its implementation and the impact these have had on the students.