Stop tampering with NCERT textbooks #censorship


PEOPLE’S UNION FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES

RAJASTHAN
Jaipur,
12th May, 2012
Statement by the PUCL, Rajasthan branch
On the controversy created by the Indian Parliamentarians on the BR Ambedkar-Nehru cartoon
in the NCERT text book of Standard XII
 
STOP TAMPERING WITH NCERT TEXT BOOKS
LET HUMOUR REMAIN IN INDIAN PUBLIC LIFE
 
The PUCL, Rajasthan branch and other intellectuals in the city are shocked at the unnecessary controversy created by a section of the Indian Parliamentarians with regard to  the cartoon of 1949 on Nehru and Ambedkar, on the pace of the making of the Indian Constitution, made by the eminent cartoonist Shankar Pillai and published in the Standard XI Political Science Text Book of the NCERT. What is extremely disturbing is the manner in which education minister Mr. Kapil Sibal apologised in Parliament and conceeded to the demands of these Parliamentarians by stating that he has directed the NCERT to remove the material and stop the distribution of books. Not stopping there, he also stated that he had taken action by setting up a committee to look at the entire gamut of cartoons in textbooks and their content to ensure material of this nature is taken out of textbooks, before the next session.
We are absolutely certain that there is nothing objectionable in the Nehru-Ambedkar cartoon by itself and the text presented with it if at all is extremely laudatory of the hard work and democratic process that the constituent assembly had adhered to under the leadership of Sh. BR Ambedkar. And the question asked of the students in the context of the cartoon actually is getting students to question Shankar’s presentation of the “snail’s pace” represented. We would like to ask whether parties have really read the text with the cartoon or is it merely criticising to appease the Dalit vote bank which they represent.
In the past also texts have been deleted and books have been tampered with, and people have had cases filed against them merely in the name of upsetting public opinion. It is important to know that the endeavour of education is not to indoctrinate the minds of the young or teach them any one ideology. According to us the primary objective of education is to create a quest for enquiry and learning to think. Providing diverse points of view becomes essential to the educational process.  Education essentially means having openness towards all points of views and also the young must know that there are many dimensions to any issue.
We all are well aware that both from the point of view of content and presentation the NCF 2005 and the books that were produced by the NCERT were a milestone in the history of education in India.  These books are also of high quality,  hardly seen before in our Government schools. These books create a questioning and critical mind in the children.  In terms of pedagogy these books are extremely innovative.
The PUCL strongly condemns the move of tampering with the content of these books and in particular the decision of removing the cartoons from the books, this needs to be opposed strongly. The PUCL is bringing together intellectuals, literary minds, art lovers and will initiate a dialogue on this issue with public and the media.
We are,
Prem Krishna Sharma,  M Hasan, Kavita Srivastava, Prakash Chaturvedi, Komal Srivastava, Radhakant Saxena, Vishwambhar, Govind Beniwal, Shiv Singh, Rajendra Saiwal and Rajeev Gupta
Address for Correspondence: 76, Shanti Niketan Colony, Kisan Marg, Jaipur -302015
Phone No: 0141/ 2594131, pucl.rajasthan@gmail.com

Cartoons All! Politicians and Self-Seekers


MAY 14, 2012

The uproar over what is being referred to as the ‘Ambedkar cartoon’ in the class XI textbook prepared by NCERT first began over a month ago, that is to say, almost six years after the books have been in circulation, been taught and received high praise for their lively style and a critical pedagogical approach (more on this below).  It was a political party – one of the factions of the Republican Party of India – that decided to kick up a ruckus over ‘the issue’ – that is, the ‘affront’ to Dr Ambedkar that the cartoon in question supposedly constitutes, and the resultant ‘hurt sentiments’ that it has caused. Very soon everyone began to fall in line, and practically every member of our august Parliament was vying with one other to prove that  they were indeed more hurt than their colleagues. One of them, Shri Ram Vilas Paswan has even demanded that the NCERT itself should be dissolved!

Good old Jurgen Habermas – and good old Habermasians  – have always invested a lot in forums like the parliament, that are to them the hallowed institutions of ‘rational-critical discourse’ where through reasoned argument people convince each other. That is how the voice of Reason ultimately prevails in democracies. I have always been suspicious of this claim and have thought that Habermas’ empirical work on the decline (‘structural transformation’) of the public sphere was more insightful than his normative fantasies. Long long ago, his empirical work on the transformation of the public sphere showed that it was the rise of political parties that had actually destroyed all possibilities of ‘rational-critical discourse’, where organized passion in the service of immediate political interests carried the day.

But believe it or not, the text book and the cartoon that is now in the eye of the storm, isnormatively speaking a Habermasian tract. In other words, it invests too much in this fantasy of rational communication. The text below the cartoon (reproduced above) says:

” Cartoonist’s impression of the snail’s pace with which the Constitution was made. Making of the constitution took almost three years . Is the cartoonist commenting on this fact? Why do you think the Constituent Assembly took so long to make the Constitution?”And much as I personally disagree with this  romantic representation of what went on inside the Constituent Assembly, here is what the textbook it self has to say, perhaps as its own answer to the question posed in the text below the cartoon:..

Read more at Kafila

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