This is with reference to the controversy over the R.K. Laxman cartoon in a Class XII NCERT textbook on the anti-Hindi agitation in Tamil Nadu in 1965 (June 9 & 10). The cartoon depicts exactly what has been brooding in my mind all these 40 years. Everyone in my age group has been deprived of learning Hindi and English while the political class had the last laugh. The cartoon should not be removed from the textbook. It will tell the story of 40 years of agony we faced and educate the next generation on the dangers of narrow thinking.
Dr. D. Elangovan,
Mr. Yogendra Yadav's arguments in the name of critical pedagogy are perplexing (“NCERT textbook gives due recognition to Dravidian movement: Yogendra Yadav,” June 10). While it is true that the different elements related to a topic should not be viewed in isolation, it is also important that each element (the cartoon in this case) must invariably serve the purpose of enlightening and educating a student. Is presenting cartoons of this character an essential and indispensable means of promoting critical pedagogy? Students do not, and cannot be expected to have, the maturity to comprehend the cartoonist's intellectual understanding of an event. He might have been “fair and non-partisan,” but does that mean the work that has flowed from him is eternally relevant, much less important, for educational purposes? Mr. Yadav says, “indeed, these textbooks carry comments which mock at the textbook itself.” Surely, there must be a better way of critical pedagogy to engender critical and inquisitive faculties in children.
I wish to join issue with letter writer Mr. Ramakrishnasayee (“Letters to the Editor,” June 11) that the anti-Hindi agitation has deprived Tamils the opportunity of learning Hindi.
The agitation was not against anyone learning Hindi of their own will; it was against the Central government's move to make its learning compulsory in schools. Why should the majority be forced to learn a language just because a minority wanted to learn that language to seek job opportunities in north India that they were gradually losing in Tamil Nadu? Those who wanted to learn Hindi always had other avenues like the Hindi Prachar Sabha and other private institutions. These centres were not forced to shut down. Contrary to Mr. Ramakrishnasayee's claim, the anti-Hindi agitation was the most glorious chapter in the recent history of Tamils when they showed some determination and a backbone to fight for something they believed in.