21 political cartoons will be deleted from Indian school text books, new cartoons to be ‘tested’ first on students

Most cartoons used in political science textbooks now have been borrowed from R K Laxman and Shankar’s work in newspapers.

The Thorat committee that reviewed NCERT textbooks has not only recommended the deletion of 21 cartoons but also laid out criteria for what kind of cartoons the textbooks should have. It has suggested among various things that the cartoons should largely stick to conveying a positive message to students, focus on themes rather than personalities, and be first “tested” on students for their reactions to ensure they are not insensitive.

The committee has said that instead of borrowing cartoons from newspapers and other secondary sources, original ones must be created strictly for educational purposes. Most cartoons used in political science textbooks now have been borrowed from R K Laxman and Shankar’s work in newspapers.

Anubhuti Vishnoi  writes in a special story in The Indian Express:

Stressing the need for a positive message, the panel has recommended that if a cartoon with a negative implication has to be necessarily used, it must be balanced with a positive-message cartoon on the same subject.

The recommendation against focus on personalities follows the offence taken by MPs at cartoons on Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and a range of other political leaders from A B Vajpayee to Lal Bahadur Shastri and B R Ambedkar. The committee has recommended that the cartoons instead look at broad themes and issues.

Sources in the NCERT said the report suggests cartoons in textbooks must first be “tested” on students and their reactions assessed to ensure that there are no “unintended consequences”. Sensitivities must especially be kept in mind as responses to cartoons may differ depending on a student’s profile, his background, religion, class, caste and habitation, it has said. The committee has also advised against “overuse” of cartoons.

Read the full report in Indian Express : ‘Unfit’ cartoons out, here’s what is ‘fit’

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