Cartoons making fun of leaders like BR Ambedkar finding their way into textbooks came under all-round attack in Lok Sabha on Monday, prompting government to promise an inquiry into the role of NCERT officials and ensure there are no recurrences.
Union HRD minister Kapil Sibal speaks as a member shows photocopies of a cartoon of BR Ambedkar in an NCERT text-book, in the Lok Sabha in New Delhi. PTI/TV grab
Members cutting across party lines expressed concern over such material in school textbooks with BJP and TDP utilising the occasion to demand HRD Minister Kapil Sibal's resignation.
Most of the members held him "fully responsible" for allowing such things to happen.
The House saw almost a hour-long impromptu discussion with members contending that the impressionable minds of young children were being "poisoned" by such cartoons.
Their contention was that an all-out conspiracy was being enacted to put politicians in poor light, may it be the media or Bollywood.
"The government has also resolved to conduct an inquiry into the role of the officials of NCERT who approved the inclusion of the offending material in political science textbook in of classes IX to XII and fix responsibility.
"The government will put in place a suitable process to ensure that such instances do not recur," Sibal said.
He said in early April, the ministry had received information about an "offending" cartoon in an NCERT textbook on page 18 of Political Science of class XI relating to B R Ambedkar with reference to the making of the Constitution.
The minister said he had sought an explanation from the NCERT, which in turn sought response from the chief advisors of the Textbook Development Committee Suhas Plashikar and Yogendra Yadav.
They responded by giving an elaborate explanation. "In light of the content and the explanation on record by Palashikar and Yadav, I directed that the offending cartoon be withdrawn from the NCERT textbook of Political Science of class XI," he said.