A ban that does no justice to future generations

Text of resignation letter written by Prof. Suhas Palshikar and Prof. Yogendra Yadav to the head of the National Council of for Educational Research and Training following Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal's announcement that the government is withdrawing a political science textbook containing an “objectionable” cartoon of Babasaheb Ambedkar:

1.The textbook (‘Indian Constitution at Work') was first published in 2006 and so far has received appreciation from various quarters, scholars, educationists and students. This book is being taught since 2006 without change since then. The purpose of the textbook is to not only give reliable information but also to encourage students to think, and seek more information on their own. From this perspective, the textbook has included many additional elements besides the text; these include dialogues by two student characters, photographs, original documents (in facsimile), newspaper clippings and cartoons.

2. The cartoon on page 18 is by the famous cartoonist Shankar. This is a cartoon not done for the textbook but published at the time when the Constituent Assembly was working. It does not criticise or comment upon Dr. Ambedkar. It depicts Dr. Ambedkar as the one who is in charge of Constitution-making. Since the book has included many cartoons from that era, it is only natural that those cartoons depict many leaders of that time, including the makers of the Constitution.

3. However, the text on pages 17 and 18 amply elaborates why the making of the Constitution took considerable time, and what procedures were followed by the Assembly. It is also explained that deliberation and consensus were the key elements of Constitution-making.

4. In no way does the text or the cartoon denigrate or downplay the contribution of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar. Since this textbook is in continuation of the Standard X textbook, it assumes the knowledge about the role and contribution of Dr. Ambedkar. In the Standard X textbook, on page 48, Dr. Ambedkar's role is explained, and also a quotation from his speech is given for students to better understand his approach.

5. It may also be mentioned that the textbook had gone through very detailed scrutiny and finally was also vetted by a Monitoring Committee co-chaired by Professors Mrinal Miri and G.P. Deshpande. The national Monitoring Committee included, among others, Professors Gopal Guru and Zoya Hasan of JNU.

6. Before publication the textbook was also reviewed by many eminent scholars and was highly appreciated for its balanced treatment and student-friendly structure.

Suhas Palshikar, Professor, Department of Politics & Public Administration, University of Pune.

Yogendra Yadav, Senior Fellow, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi.

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Printable version | May 22, 2020 10:28:45 PM |

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