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’

Avantibai who? Read the NCERT textbook

Rani Avantibai rose in revolt against the British during 1857, much like Rani Laxmi Bai

In yet another example of the role played by political pressure in shaping school curriculum, the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has found merit in the demand to include Rani Avantibai Lodhi in school textbooks.

Last year, following an uproar engineered by MPs of the Bharatiya Janata Party and Bahujan Samaj Party in the Rajya Sabha during the monsoon session, the HRD ministry had advised NCERT to consider the inclusion of the 19th century freedom fighter in textbooks. The protest had led to two adjournments in Parliament.

The council, apparently convinced by the ‘sentiment’ of the House, has made Rani Avantibai Lodhi a part of popular recall. The freedom fighter has been mentioned in NCERT’s social science textbook for Class VIII – on pages 58 and 59 under chapter five called ‘When People Rebel’ – from the new academic session that began last month.

Rani Avantibai rose in revolt against the British during the country’s first war of independence in 1857. She ruled over the Ramgarh state, today in Mandla district of Madhya Pradesh. She is known to people in the state through folklore and, that apart, there isn’t much information available. The story of her battle with the English has often been likened to that of Rani Laxmi Bai, a must-read in history curricula followed by schools across the country.

(courtesy: MailOnlineIndia & Ritika Chopra)

Read the full story: Avantibai who? Read the NCERT textbook

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Indian Democracy: Spare Us..Spare Us…!

I can not but help observing that the subject cartoon of 1949 was published at a time when Shri. Babasaheb Ambedkar was very much alive and active in the solemn work of framing the constitution and that he himself must have had a hearty laugh at the caricature and did not take offence. As such, the comic act of our parliamentarians seething in anger at the vintage cartoon even while the affected person Shri. Ambedkar himself was not moved to anger in his time by the cartoon could itself be a subject matter of a new cartoon for the fraternity of cartoonists.

Kesava Shankara Pillai popularly known as Shanker or Sanker had drawn that cartoon way back in the year 1949! The e ‘so-called’ controversial book in which the cartoon was reproduced was published as long ago as 2006! But no one objected then, probably because in was taken in the right spirit…as it should be! To wake up now and rake it up as an issue to pound shows a mean streak of intolerance!

In India we make a mockery of everything -be it democracy, constitution, parliament, government, ..name anything! No doubt every incidence makes us cartoon characters and folds in the eyes of the World at large! The intolerance of political class for an innocuous cartoon which no way denigrates Dr.B.R.Ambedkar whilst the Indian parliament is celebrating its 60th anniversary smacks of hypocrisy and parochialism. It is surprising that even Kapil Sibal, the habitually self asserting and belligerently protective spokesperson of government issues, irrespective of merits, meekly submitted to the ‘across the board’ misdirected criticism; perhaps lost his steam sequel to the continuous failure of his government and the Congress party in recent times and the most recent, Dr.Singhvi’s disgrace, could have shaken him. Cartoons in school text books are certainly a novel idea, as thought provoking, funny visuals contribute to stimulate the young inquiring minds as to their meaning; therefore the subject is better understood and retained in the mind. This approach deserves appreciation. The argument that the cartoon could be misconstrued by the 11th standard schoolchildren who read the textbook is bogus and an insult to their intelligence.

It is laughable to see an utterly inoffensive cartoon being used to create a controversy. Most of the politicians in India are devoid of any worthwhile convictions and have zero intellectual content. It is strange that not a single one of them came out against the controversy. Really, it’s a pity to see our nominated parliamentarians squabbling instead of debating and solving issues that hinders the progress of society.

In cartoonist Shanker’s days  when cartoon was king,  appreciation of the art of lampooning through the tip of the pencil took a front seat… aided , abetted and encouraged by no less a person  than Panditji (Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru) himself ..He even used to scold   our cartoonist high priest, albeit in fond terms,  when the latter slackened on his lampooning act, saying “Don’t Spare Me Shanker” !

The cartoon incident has happened even as our celebration of sixty years of our Parliamentary democracy is on. Many citizens are worried by the way our politicians surrender to muscle power, whether it is of caste or money. If only they all had debated to make sure that all the government schemes are implemented properly, India would have been a really developed country. In school I learned that diversity (in language, religion, etc) is one of the greatest plus points of India. Now I realize that this diversity is nothing but a complex social structure which provides fuel to a massive number of inconsequential political issues. Our democracy is essentially thriving on the randomness generated from such a complex social system.

Today  Shanker would be turning in his grave, whimpering: “Spare Us..Spare Us..!”

In fact that is  precisely be our cry too…as we bemoan the state of things today!

Shankar’s ‘Varnashram’ Cartoon speaks!!!

This Cartoon which was published in the year 1933 in Telugu News Paper Krishna Patrika showing M.K. Acharya trying to increase the taint of untouchability in Hindusim and M.K.Gandhi was trying to clean it , whereas B.R. Ambedkar was trying to break the foundations of Hinduism called Varnashram , while the Western society was laughing at the whole situation . This Cartoon was actually published in Hindustan Times and was later republished in the Telugu news paper, this is drawn by the famous cartoonist Shankar.