Cartoon row: Dalit writers tell NCERT committee to change text as well

Highlighting the lack of empathy among the intellectuals towards the “Dalit viewpoint”,prominent Dalit and non-Dalit writers

Written by Anubhuti Vishnoi | New Delhi | Published: June 8, 2012 12:07 am

Highlighting the lack of empathy among the intellectuals towards the “Dalit viewpoint”,prominent Dalit and non-Dalit writers on Thursday submitted a petition to the NCERT textbook review committee to reconsider the “insensitive” cartoon of B R Ambedkar and make necessary changes in the text as well to ensure that the Dalit icon finds his due place.

Stressing that textbooks can’t be treated as “above criticism” and cartoons as “sacrosanct”,they urged the government to “desist from seeking any major overhaul of the basic National Curriculum Framework on which the textbooks are based”.

The petition also sought fair representation of Dalits and other social minorities in NCERT’s various committees as well as in the senates and syndicates of Central and state universities. It called for introspection on why Dalits and Adivasis,despite constitutional provisions for 22.5 per cent reservation,occupy less than 3 per cent of faculty positions in academic institutions.

The signatories to the petition include noted Dalit writers Omprakash Valmiki,Ajay Navaria,Anita Bharti,Rajni Tilak,Bama,Ravikumar,Imayam and Sivakami (Tamil),Siddalingaiah (Kannada),M R Renukumar (Malayalam),Nameo Dhasal and Urmila Pawar (Marathi),G Kalyan Rao and Gogu Shyamala (Telugu),and Uma Chakravarti. The petition was submitted to Prof S K Thorat,Chairman,Indian Council of Social Science Research,who heads the committee set up by the Union HRD Ministry to review textbooks for inappropriate content.

Terming the Ambedkar cartoon as insensitive,the petition said that “cartoons and jokes can be vicious about minorities” and “need to be subjected to critical scrutiny”.

It said the Class XI textbook also does not properly introduce Dr Ambedkar.

“We urge the Thorat Committee to make the necessary changes in the text as well,” the petition said.

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