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

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Republic of Hurt Sentiments

Sentiment, Politics, Censorship: The State of Hurt edited by Rina Ramdev, Sandhya Devesan Nambiar and Debaditya Bhattacharya; Delhi: Sage Publications, 2015, pp 324, `895.

India’s Constituent Assembly first convened in December 1946. In the early months of 1947, the assembly did little due to the Muslim League’s boycott, but its pace had quickened by Independence Day that August. By the following February, the assembly distributed a draft Constitution and invited public comment. A second draft with extensive revisions was ready in November 1948, and the assembly began a clause-by-clause discussion. The draft was extraordinarily long, and the debate dragged on for several months.

In August 1949, K Shankar Pillai, a leading cartoonist, lampooned the assembly’s slow progress in his magazine, Shankar’s Weekly. Shankar depicted B R Ambedkar, who chaired the assembly’s drafting committee, riding a snail, with the caption “Constitution.” Ambedkar holds the gastropod’s reins in his hands and a riding crop in another. Jawaharlal Nehru, who is shown behind Ambedkar, has a much bigger whip. It is unclear whether Nehru is goading the snail or Ambedkar, who is riding it. This cartoon was included in a political science textbook in 2006, published by the National Council of Educational Research and Training. Several leading scholars were involved in the textbook’s design and content, and it was a brilliantly conceived pedagogical tool to teach the Constitution and the law to school students. The textbook also included a number of cartoons to liven its narrative. Shankar’s 1949 drawing depicting Ambedkar on a snail was one among them.

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Updated On : 24th May, 2017
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