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May 14, 2012 at 02:36pm IST

Government to act against political cartoons in school textbooks

New Delhi: Cartoons are not a laughing matter for politicians after a 63-year-old cartoon of DR BR Ambedkar led to uproarious scenes in Parliament, forcing the Union Government to apologise. Finance Minister Pranab Mukerjee assured Parliament on Monday that no political cartoons would be allowed in school textbooks and all objectionable material would be withdrawn after there was a ruckus over a cartoon of BR Ambedkar in NCERT class XI social science textbook.

Announcing that books with cartoons on leaders would not be prescribed, Mukherjee said that the entire publication would be withdrawn. He also assured the agitated MPs that appropriate action would be taken against those who indulged in such acts.

"Whatever is circulated will be withdrawn, those books will not be prescribed as textbooks. The entire publication will be withdrawn. Action will be taken against those who indulged in this. The House will be informed by either me or the HRD Minister about the same. The responsibility will be fixed and action will be taken against all involved," said Mukherjee.

A ruckus had broken out in the Lok Sabha a day after a Parliamentary forum headed by Speaker Meira Kumar told the NCERT that there should be no political satire in school textbooks. Sources say MPs want all cartoons of politicians to be removed.

The move comes in the wake of the furore over a 63-year-old cartoon of Dr BR Ambedkar which NCERT was forced to withdraw. The cartoon used in the class XI social science textbook 'Indian Constitution at Work' was actually sketched back in 1948 by Keshav Shankar Pillai, when the framing of the constitution was on, to show how the process was slow.

Following the uproar HRD Minister Kapil Sibal had apologised and declared that the "objectionable" caricatures were being withdrawn. Two advisors of

NCERT text book council - Yogendra Yadav and Suhas Palshikar - resigned following the protests.

Kapil Sibal said, "I have immediately sought an explanation from NCERT as to who brought those cartoons. It's got nothing to do with the government at all. The government has got nothing to do with content of textbooks. The commission headed by Professor Thorat will submit report in a month. The NCERT has decided not to distribute these textbooks. Freedom of expression is contextual. Same cartoon in a newspaper is acceptable but same cartoon in textbooks may well not be."

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