Complete Details of Ambedkar Cartoon Controversy

An Old Cartoon by renowned cartoonist Shankar, depicts Nehru, with a whip in his hand, chasing Ambedkar, who is seated on a snail. In the cartoon, Nehru is asking Ambedkar to speed up the work on the constitution.

The controversial cartoon, first published in 1949 by cartoonist Shankar in his weekly magazine and reproduced in NCERT Class 11 political science textbooks.

The issue was raised by Dalit activist Thol Thirumavalavan, the Lok Sabha MP who heads the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi of Tamil Nadu, where protests were staged over the row.

Thirumavalavan, supported by members cutting across party lines, flashed a placard highlighting the issue and walked towards Speaker Meira Kumar’s podium.

He said the cartoon was “insulting to Ambedkar, Nehru and the whole nation”. At one point, an agitated Thirumavalavan even sought Sibal’s resignation over the issue.

Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal said in parliament earlier that he was not personally responsible for the row but had “no hesitation in apologising to the nation”.

According to Sibal, the issue came to his notice last month and he decided April 26 that the cartoon be withdrawn from the NCERT books on political science and the Indian constitution.

“Much before the issue came to parliament, I had already taken action. I called for the NCERT text books and I looked at other cartoons. I realised that there were many other cartoons that were not in good taste and disparaging in nature. They were not sending the right message to our children in classrooms,” he added.

A group of persons on Saturday ransacked the office of Prof Suhas Palshikar, who resigned as NCERT adviser in the wake of the row over a cartoon of BR Ambedkar in school text books. Police said Palshikar was unharmed in the attack and three persons have been detained.

Palshikar justified the cartoon, and stated that there was nothing offensive about the cartoon and that it was drawn just for the better understanding of students.

Palshikar, a former head of Pune University’s department of politics, had resigned after the uproar in parliament over the issue Friday.

Palshikar was a member of the ministry’s textbook development committee which approved the Class 11 textbook that contained the cartoon.

Political scientist Yogendra Yadav, who was the chief advisor of the committee, has also resigned.