Row over Ambedkar cartoon in textbook rocks Parliament

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on May 11, 2012 Published on May 11, 2012

On the day the Union Home Minister, Mr P Chidambaram, was supposed to give a clarification on the Aircel-Maxis deal, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) obstructed the proceedings of both the Houses of Parliament on BR Ambedkar's cartoon in an NCERT textbook.

The BSP raised the issue in Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha during the Question Hour, supported by members of CPI, AIADMK, JD(U) and even some members belonging to the UPA. Waving a copy of the class XI textbook, which carried an allegedly objectionable cartoon of Dr Ambedkar, the MPs demanded a clarification from the Human Resource Development Minister, Mr Kapil Sibal.

Mr Sibal assured the House that the Government would examine whether any criminal offence was committed. The cartoon by eminent cartoonist, Shankar, was published in Shankar's Weekly, in 1948.

Mr Sibal said the HRD Ministry had decided to constitute an expert committee to look into cases of all such objectionable cartoons and remove them. “When I got information in the beginning of April, I wrote a letter to NCERT that such a cartoon should not be there as it is objectionable...On April 26, 2012, I wrote to NCERT stating that it is considered advisable to withdraw the cartoon. After this, they set up a committee to examine this,” he said.

“Then I called for all textbooks and found there are many other such cartoons about other leaders which are objectionable. Then I decided to set up a committee to look into all textbooks. I told NCERT to stop distribution of all books immediately,” he said.

BSP leader, Ms Mayawati said the Government should intervene and take strong action against those involved in this. The BJP, while criticising the NCERT, said the Congress always got a helping hand from somewhere when it is in crisis.

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Published on May 11, 2012
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