“We know that Nehru had enjoyed Shankar’s cartoons on him”

Academic and chairman of the National Curriculum Framework (2005) review committee Yash Pal has rejected the S.K. Thorat panel recommendations for deletion of cartoons on politicians and bureaucrats from the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) textbooks.

Terming the panel report “insensitive” and an example of the “growing politics of intolerance,” Prof. Yash Pal said “academicians [in the panel] have sunk to such a level that they found several cartoons in the NCERT’s social science textbooks portraying politicians in a negative and incorrect way.”

Speaking to The Hindu over telephone on Tuesday, Prof. Yash Pal, former Chairman of the University Grants Commission, wondered why “people get annoyed about jathas, slogans and cartoons. Hamein kya ho gaya, pata nahin [What has happened to us? I don’t know],” he said.

Reacting to the committee’s observation that the textbooks carry too many caricatures on the Nehru-Gandhi family and they had to be deleted, he said he did not “think that they [Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi] felt insulted by such works. We know that Nehru had enjoyed Shankar’s cartoons on him.”

Wondering how “we would live, if we do not have cartoons on politicians and bureaucrats,” he said political caricatures could convey a strong point of view. “People should remain careful about not hurting others. But we can always have some sense of fun.”

Referring to the finding that the cartoons portrayed politicians in an “incorrect way,” he said they actually pointed to one’s “weaknesses and inconsistencies and that too in a nice way.”

Prof. Yash Pal also rejected the recommendation that pre-testing of texts and visuals in different settings could be carried out in future as part of textbook development. “You don’t test all these things. We cannot have a low level of research while designing school curriculum,” he said.

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