MPs present a united intolerant alliance


Days ago, it was just B R Ambedkar. Today, it was all politicians. After banning a 1949 cartoon by legendary satirist Shankar from an NCERT political science textbook for Class XI, the Government today announced the removal of cartoons of politicians from another NCERT text (Democratic Politics - 1), this one for Class IX after MPs said these "poisoned" the student mind.

"I am of the view that large number of depictions in these cartoons are offensive and are inappropriate for textbooks. The government has also resolved to conduct an inquiry into the role of the officials of NCERT who approved the inclusion of the offending material in the textbook in political science of Classes IX-XII and fix responsibility," HRD Minister Kapil Sibal said after MPs across party lines, except one from the National Conference, came down heavily against the cartoons.

The HRD Ministry set up a six-member committee to scrutinise these textbooks and replace "inappropriate" material before the academic session resumes after the summer vacation.

To be chaired by S K Thorat, Chairman, Indian Council of

Social Science Research, this committee has been asked to review Class IX to XII Social Science and Political Science textbooks of NCERT "from the point of view of identifying educationally inappropriate material in them."

In the House, the issue was brought to the notice of the Lok Sabha by Akali Dal MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal, who got across-the-board support from: Sanjay Nirupam (Congress), Yashwant Sinha (BJP), Sharad Yadav (JDU), Mulayam Singh Yadav (SP), Dara Singh Chauhan (BSP) and Lalu Prasad (RJD) among others.

Except S D Shariq of National Conference, MP after MP came down heavily against the cartoons claiming these "denigrated" politicians, "poisoned" young minds and "endangered" democracy in the country.

While Badal circulated copies of the cartoons to MPs, the tone was set by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who was seen expressing her displeasure after Harsimrat handed a copy to her just before the debate began. Sonia, in fact, was seen giving directions, first to Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal and then to Pranab Mukherjee.

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