A grey shade in textbooks by NCERT

Revised Syllabus

With respect to various famous movements and struggles, the revised NCERT Class 10 Political Science textbook, Democratic Politics-II, has retained a cartoon by Surendra, from The Hindu, in Chapter 5. But there’s a difference. The bureaucracy hindering implementation of the Right to Information Act has been changed which was the caption of the cartoon displayed before.

Overview of the details

It no longer reads “The Right to Information Act is one of the recent legislation passed by Parliament. Who is shown as obstructing the implementation of the legislation?”. That has been changed to “Many democratic governments provide the Right to Information (RTI) to the citizens. The RTI Act, 2005 is a landmark legislation passed by our Parliament. Under this Act, citizens can seek information from government offices pertaining to different activities. Is there a revelation that the cartoon exaggerates the obstructionist role of bureaucracy in the implementation of the Act?”.

From its Political Science textbooks, after six years from when it dropped several offensive cartoons, the NCERT has gone a step further and toned down the commentary on Indian politics and politicians in its Class 10 book.

Past rebuttals

The use of political cartoons in NCERT textbooks on the ground that political satire wasn’t suitable for young minds was protested by the opposition parties in 2012. The UPA-II of including anti-politician content in textbooks was previously accused by the BJP during the previous years. The flak forced the government to set up a committee, headed by former UGC chairman Sukhdeo Thorat, to review content. the NCERT, eventually, agreed to drop six from political science textbooks of classes 9, 10, 11 and 12 in spite of the panel had recommended deletion of 20 cartoons.

Significant Changes

– Old version: In Chapter 6, Munni says, “I don’t like so many parties. It’s such a mess. I wonder how the politicians manage these coalitions. I can’t even remember the names of all the parties.”

New: Her comment has been changed: “I wonder how politicians manage these coalitions. I can’t even remember the names of all the parties.”

– Old: Chapter 6 carries a cartoon on political corruption by Manjul from the DNA newspaper.

New: A comment from Unni has accompanied the cartoon now: “Does this suggest that in democracies people contest elections only to make money? But isn’t it true that there are politicians committed to the well-being of the people?”.

– Old: Chapter 7 (Outcomes of Democracy) has a cartoon by R K Laxman on page 90. It represents the huge expectations people have for democracy and how people think that democracy can address all socio-economic and political problems. The cartoon does not have a caption.

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