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Follow the hero, rather than worship him

The MPs who protested in Parliament against Dr Ambedkar’s cartoon carried in the Class XI NCERT textbook must not forget that while doing so they are neither serving the ideals of Dr Ambedkar nor the liberal principles of the Constitution of which Ambedkar was the main architect (editorial ‘Ambedkar cartoon row’, May 14). Dr Ambedkar would not have been happy to see the emerging trend in politics of stooping to such low levels for consolidating the vote bank.

Every student of the Constitution of India knows well that ours is the bulkiest of all the constitutions in the world and the Constitution makers took the longest period to frame it – 2 years 11months, 18 days.

The cartoon in question conveys this constitutional and historical fact in the most decent and inoffensive way. The chief advisors of NCERT, Suhas Palshikar and Yogendra Yadav, have done a commendable work by selecting this cartoon and another 26 cartoons of similar nature to convey to the young students of class XI about the subtle constitutional and historical facts in a lucid manner.

Moreover, the cartoon in question is the handiwork of a great cartoonist Shankar and Dr Ambedkar must have laughed it away because he was a staunch supporter of freedom of thought and expression in a democracy.

The caution that Dr Ambedkar himself served against hero worship long back in a speech that he delivered in the Constituent Assembly is relevant today. He had said, “There is nothing wrong in being grateful to great men who have rendered life-long services to the country. But there are limits to gratefulness”.

This caution is far more relevant in India than in any other country. Here, hero worship plays a part in politics unequalled in magnitude in any other country in the world.



Dr Ambedkar was an icon of the freedom era, like many others. His contribution was matchless. He was known for his love for Sanskrit, which he wanted to patronise. Nobody could think either to belittle or lower his dignity. The projection of the cartoon as demeaning could be doctored by vested interests to garner a rich  political harvest.

Milton wrote in Paradise Lost, “The mind is it’s own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven”. In the 1950s, Shankar’s cartoons were highly relished. He gave expression to humour through his colourful cartoons. He had drawn caricatures of all the noted political personalities of the day. The disputed cartoon might have found way into the textbook inoffensively.

Parliament is no longer a platform for meaningful debates of dignified parliamentarians. Noise and muscle power are used to settle scores.

It was disturbing to read the news report ‘NCERT ex-advisor’s office ransacked’ (May 13) that the office of Suhas Palshikar was ransacked and vandalised at Pune in the aftermath of the row in Parliament.

Reflectively, if the prevalent political scenario is any indication, then it could be surmised that India has many miles to traverse before it transforms into a mature vibrant democracy.

V I K SHARMA, Jalandhar

More liaison needed

Air Marshal R S Bedi (retd) in his article “Dealing with armed forces” (May 15) has unambiguously highlighted the casual manner in which our armed forces, in general, and their chiefs, in particular, have been treated by the political masters at the national level.

Nonetheless, today the Army is one of the rare institutions our country we can feel proud of and fully remain dependent upon, particularly, in times of crises. It is our brave, loyal and courageous armed forces that are truly apolitical and totally patriotic. They alone possess the necessary capacity to thwart both external aggression and suppress an internal uprising or come to the peoples’ rescue (euphemistically termed ‘in aid of civil power’) during disastrous natural calamities.

It has amply been brought out that by denigrating both the institution of Chiefship and slighting the armed forces, the long-term interests of national security are seriously  being threatened.

While our armed forces remain deficient in modern arms, ammunition, equipment, guns, aircraft, ships, manpower and other essential sinews of war, the politicians turn the proverbial  Nelson’s eye.


Answer child’s queries 

Sex education is not only important as a developmental process in the life of a child, it also arms the child with the tools to understand himself or herself better in relation to the immediate environment and the threats from outside.

Children need information about values, morals, dating, love and intimacy. They also need to know how to protect themselves against unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases and sexual exploitation. Parents should answer their children's questions and inform them according to their level of exposure and maturity (depending on the age of both boys and girls). A number of surveys have shown that girls who were not educated about sex are more likely to embark on sexual indiscretion than those who were educated about sex.




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