Cartoon Row: Three More Articles

Shiv Visvanathan is a social scientist.

Shiv Visvanathan

Babasaheb Ambedkar is one of the most fascinating figures in Indian politics. In hagiographic terms, if Gandhi is the father of the nation, Ambedkar is father of the Indian Constitution. Both have a legendary status which inspires hagiolatry. Any critique of them is seen as iconoclastic.

Gandhians tend to put Gandhi in moth balls in their Ashrams. Dalits similarly tend to freeze Ambedkar, disallowing the slightest controversy. Strangely Hindu gods are allowed more leeway and more plural narratives, but not our political heroes.

The Lellyweld controversy over Gandhi’s relationship to Herman Kallenbach aroused the ire of Gandhians. Similarly, a 1949 cartoon of Ambedkar and the Constitution in a NCERT textbook has prompted a protest in Parliament and an immediate withdrawal of the cartoon.     Read more…..

Row over cartoon demeans the Dalit movement in general and Ambedkar in particular, says Harish S Wankhede. He teaches political science at University of Delhi. He can be reached at enarish[at]gmail.com.

Harish Wankhede

The intellectual-rational capacity of the current brand of Congress leadership has always been in doubt. In the latest episode of fast-track community appeasement by banning a controversial Nehru-Ambedkar cartoon in an NCERT textbook, the ruling elites of our country hit a new low in their political opportunism. Kapil Sibal is, in general, not a popular figure among Dalits, but his attempt to hog the limelight via such gimmickry will make him a laughing stock. Significantly, the group worst affected by this controversy is not the Congress or any of its leaders, but the Dalit movement in general. Such a trivialisation of B.R. Ambedkar has the potential to portray the Dalit movement as devoid of concrete political issues, infantile and aggressively lumpen in its approach.    Read more…..

Ritambhara Agrawal is a student in University of Delhi and has studied the banned book in school. She has a blog.

Ritambhara Agrawal

These two books (Contemporary World Politics and Politics in India since Independence) were the bloody best books in my 14 years in school and certainly in high school where text books matter a lot more than they did before. I remember reading them with so much relish that my mother got suspicious because none of my other books ever got that attention from me. I still have them with me and they are filled with notes I took down during class and otherwise, cartoons filled with little tidbits of analysis as we debated them out in class and basically the sign of a student actually engaging in class…but I guess thats just not required or maybe even frowned down upon – what good could it be for anyone if God forbid, someone engaged in a debate and did not just stage a walk out?      Read more…..
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