MPs vent ire, Sibal signals probe

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 15.05.12
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New Delhi, May 14: The Lok Sabha erupted again today against political cartoons in school textbooks, prompting HRD minister Kapil Sibal to announce an inquiry against NCERT officials who had approved the “inclusion of the offending material”.

If MPs in both Houses railed against a “derogatory” cartoon of B.R. Ambedkar in a Class XI political science book of the NCERT, it was a Class IX book of the same subject that drew their ire today. They alleged it contained “offensive” cartoons against the political class.

Akali Dal’s Harsimrat Kaur Badal raised the issue today, pointing to the collection of newspaper cartoons used as illustrations in the Class IX book.

Soon, MPs from the Left to Right joined her, slamming the government for allowing such material and arguing that it would “poison young minds” and endanger the “democratic structure”. Some demanded Sibal’s resignation.

Leader of the House Pranab Mukherjee tried to calm tempers by clarifying the books would be withdrawn. Sibal went a step further and announced the inquiry.

“The government has resolved to conduct an inquiry into the role of the officials of NCERT in the textbook on political science of Classes IX-XII and fix responsibility, Sibal said. The other aim is to ensure that such instances do not recur”, he said.

Harsimrat drew a distinction between newspapers and textbooks. “We cannot control what the TV shows or a newspaper writes…but if impressionable young minds are shown (such) cartoons…it would poison the minds.”