M A I N   N E W S

NCERT advisors quit; say toon row tragic
Aditi Tandon/TNS

New Delhi, May 11
NCERT's chief advisors for the political science subject resigned today over the row surrounding a cartoon featuring Dr BR Ambedkar in a class XI textbook, saying the entire controversy was "tragic."

The advisors -- Yogendra Yadav (Senior Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies) and Suhas Paliskar (Professor of Political Science, University of Pune) quit on a day when the Council initiated steps to withdraw the cartoon and the Government announced an independent probe to look into "objectionable" contents in the textbook.

The two said it was only appropriate for them to leave once as the Government has ordered a probe into content which they had vetted as advisors.

They said Friday's developments had undermined pedagogic purpose for which the cartoon was included in the book, 'Indian Democracy at Work," first printed in 2006.

"We agree the Government must bow to Parliament, but we believe that parliamentary consensus unsettles some fundamental canons of democratic society," the advisors said in a resignation letter to NCERT director Praveen Sinclair.

They said the book was being taught for six years and had received appreciation from all quarters. "The textbook had gone through detailed scrutiny and finally vetted by a NCERT monitoring committee co-chaired by Prof Mrinal Miri and G.P. Deshpande," they said.

Palshikar and Yadav were appointed Chief Advisors for political science after the National Curriculum Framework 2005 came into being and stressed new education tools such as images and cartoons.

"It is pedagogically unfortunate that the MPs disagree that in no way is the cartoon an insult to Dr Ambedkar. It in fact projects him as the man in charge," Paliskar told TNS.

Yadav called the developments tragic and said it was ironic that the book which for the first time highlighted the role of Dr Ambedkar was being attacked for being anti-Ambedkar.

"It is a travesty of any art form if its symbols are taken literally. It is sad that parliamentarians didn't find the time to read the text where the cartoon appears. It is most tragic that matters involving responsibility to future generations are being settled in a few minutes of debate," he said.





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