'MPs must read textbooks before critising cartoons'

Prof Yogendra Yadav says cartoons are not to offend any community


Jasleen Kaur | May 18, 2012

Prof Yogendra Yadav, NCERT’s former chief advisor of political science textbooks, says the parliamentarians should read and understand the context of the cartoon before criticising it.

Following the uproar in parliament on controversy arising out of eminent cartoonist Shankar's cartoon on BR Ambedkar in class XI text book, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal has expressed his intention to eliminate all political cartoons from NCERT textbooks.

Prof Yadav said, “The only one right I ask for is the right to read. I just wanted the parliamentarians to read the text and understand it. The fact is with exception of 1-2 members in Rajya Sabha, no other member in both houses has read a single line which they were criticizing.”

Prof Yadav even read the text from the book being criticized by the MPs. He added, “The cartoon is not meant to offend or to make fun of any community, it is a critique of democracy. In my eyes it was just a way to show the pace at which constitution was made. And books are not meant to defame anyone.”

Prof Yadav was speaking at the forum organized by the Foundation of media professionals which was also attended by the members of broadcast editors association (BEA), artists, cartoonists and those from academic background and civil society.

N K Singh, General Secretary, BEA said freedom of expression is the only right which is intangible and its social mobility can only be created by the media.

He added, “Parliamentarians do not have any consciousness and unanimity on Lokpal Bill or on farmers killing themselves, but on this there is an agreement. Government of India could have easily explained the intention behind the cartoons in the text books but it did not do so.”

Rajeev Dhawan, a senior supreme court advocate said the cartoon showing B R Amebedkar trying to move a snail has been there for years and Ambedkar himself did not find it offensive. He said, “But the government does not have the guts to defend this cartoon. There must be a vote bank policy behind it.”

Prashant Bhushan, a senior SC advocate and a Team Anna member, said, “The leaders are proving what these cartoons say about them. This shows a dangerous state of affairs where we elect and are forced to elect the cartoons.”

He also said that cartoons and illustration are an important part of social-political commentary and is not a threat to democracy.



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