The HRD ministry is set to ask the NCERT to review a cartoon in a class XI textbook on political science which appears to show Baba Sahib Bhimrao Ambedkar in a bad light and is a reason for anger among dalits.
The NCERT had used Shankar's cartoon of Children's Book Trust to indicate that framing of the constitution was a slow process. The cartoon showed Ambedkar sitting on a snail called the Constitution and India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru whipping the snail to make it move faster.
From the cartoon, it appeared that NCERT was blaming Ambedkar for three years the constituent assembly took to prepare the draft of the Constitution.
"It is very academic type of question I can't answer at this moment," said Professor B K Tripathi, joint director in NCERT.
Other officials, however, said the NCERT had used the cartoon to ask the students what the cartoonist Shankar was trying to say. For this, two questions were asked in the text with the cartoon --- Is the cartoonist commenting on this fact and why do you think, did the Constituent Assembly take so long to make the Constitution?
This has irked dalits scholars and activists leading to protest in several places in Maharastra including Nagpur and Mumbai.
"Reproducing the cartoon is no less insult that demeaning a statue of Dr Ambedkar. It is unfortunate that sensitivity of 17 % of the population have not been kept in mind by the NCERT," said Dr Yagati Chinna Rao, associate professor at Jawaharlal Nehru's School for Social Sciences.
Dalits have also felt hurt at the chapter one of the book - Indian Constitution at Work --- depicting Ambedkar as critic of Congress and Mahatma Gandhi for not doing enough for upliftment of scheduled castes. The chapter also says there was "dispute between Nehru and Sardar Patel over many issues".
The NCERT officials wondered why the controversy has suddenly erupted as the textbook on Indian Constitution was introduced in 2006. Officials, however, admit that there was some recent revision in the books.
The controversy, which erupted after Republican Party of India leader Ramdas Athwale burnt the book in Mumbai this week, had forced HRD ministry to review.
"If there is something objectionable NCERT will definitely look into it," a senior HRD ministry official said.