ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Why Mock Ambedkar?

In your editorial comment (“Ambedkar Cartoon Controversy”, EPW, 26 May 2012) you described the attack on National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) textbooks as a “threat to destroy a democratic pedagogy for schoolchildren”, and in the article by Manjit Singh (“Cartoons, Caste and Politics”, EPW, 26 May 2012) it has been interpreted as “a misreading of an innocuous cartoon”. In fact, the issue of delay in finalising the Constitution was adequately explained in the speech delivered in the Constituent Assembly by B R Ambedkar on 25 November 1949. Against this background, how is the inclusion of cartoon worthwhile today?

The issue is not whether a cartoon should be used in pedagogy for schoolchildren or intervention in the autonomy of NCERT or restricting the freedom of expression, but whether the cartoon which depicts an indignant image of great leaders should be used. The question, therefore, arises whether the textbook author(s)/advisers/experts wanted to create reverence or make mockery in the minds of children? Should great leaders be the object of mockery?

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