Cartoons In Politics Books, Or In The Indian Parliament?

Posted on May 22, 2012 in Politics at Play

By Nupur Dogra:

Political Science books by NCERT will not have any cartoons… the books will have written texts which the students like old times will have to mug up and vomit into their papers. When this news came to me, as a Political Science student, I had a mixed feeling- pity for my juniors and a laugh on our legislatures, also I felt a bit lucky having already graduated from 12th standard before they made the textbook such a bore. The National Curriculum Framework (NCF) 2005, recommended that children’s life at school must be linked to their life outside the school. They wanted a departure from the legacy of bookish learning, and to discourage the rote learning. Having read the whole book like a Maulvi reads his Quran, a Pundit his Gita and a Christian reads his bible; I can assure you that the book nowhere passes a judgement on any political events and or personalities. It provides the students with information on what has happened in Indian and world’s political spheres. Also through cartoons the students are actually able to remember and learn the events which took place, which now will be monotonous and confined to rote learning of the texts. The cartoons help students to look at the issue in a more serious way rather than just another question in the syllabus. It acts like a much required trigger to the imaginative young minds.

Our ministers say that minds of the students are not mature enough to be exposed to such cartoons. How do they think that maturity comes? These books are taught to students of 11th and 12th standards, students are 16 and 17 years old generally. They will be eligible to vote and decide their political representatives in a year or two. And still they think that these students are not mature enough! Such cartoons actually help in raising questions in a student’s mind and followed by well researched answers by students and thus leading to more knowledge, experience and finally maturity in that particular issue. As I wrote my first year paper for Political Science, I still had the image of that cartoon in my 12th standard NCERT book in my mind. In that cartoon, Indira Gandhi holds a broomstick in her hand and all other leaders were lying on each other in the dustbin and the caption read “Sweeping the poles in 1980”. This actually helped me to write the exact year in my paper. Now what I perceived as a way to memorize the particular year and significance of a particular election our MPs saw it as an offence to the ministers lying in dustbin. Need I say anything more about the conflicting maturity levels?

This whole controversy was sparked off, by the cartoon in which B.R. Ambedkar is sitting on a snail named constitution and Jawaharlal Nehru in the scene. This is seen as an offence towards Ambedkar and to the lower castes.

Our leaders surely are leaving no area untouched with their political ploys. They can put everything possible at stake to secure their vote banks. I plead to them to at least spare education from their dirty politics and take up some issue which will automatically assure them the security of their vote banks. Instead of cashing up on the charisma of old leaders, it’s high time they built some of their own. The need of hour is to remove cartoons not from the course book but actually from the parliament.

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Girija Semuwal

Cartoons are a wonderful medium of communicating ideas. When they are not propagandist, they should be taken in good spirit. Instead of banning them, students should be taught their importance & meaning and also be told about the negative side and implications. Cartoons shouldn’t be mere illustrations in text-books that students don’t know why they are there. Also, nothing, neither a paragraph nor a cartoon should be used or quoted out of context. Students must be taught to view things in their right context; not doing this would foster linear, single-tracked and one-dimensional thinking.

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