New Delhi: It turns out that the cartoon of Dr BR Ambedkar and Jawaharlal Nehru is just the starting point. Nearly 200 other cartoons currently used in school textbooks are to be reviewed and most likely deleted.
One features former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Others offer perspective on foreign affairs in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan.
The cartoons appear largely in political science textbooks issued by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT). The council drafts books for classes 1 to 12. Its members believe cartoons help provide a lighter touch for students. The cartoons were screened first by a textbook development committee, and then by a monitoring panel.
But the Ambedkar cartoon, drawn by the famous Shankar Pillai in 1949, caused such chaos in Parliament last week that now a new committee is reviewing all NCERT books. MPs from different parties agreed that the cartoon - thoroughly misunderstood, argue many - was offensive, and should never have made it into school books. Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal said in Parliament today, "The government has resolved to conduct an inquiry into the role of the officials of NCERT who approved the inclusion of the offending material in political science textbook of classes IX to XII and fix responsibility...The same cartoon in a newspaper may well be acceptable but the same cartoon or a series of such cartoons attacking the political class or a community in a textbook which has a tendency to influence impressionable minds may well not be acceptable."