Ambedkar cartoon triggers pandemonium in Parliament

The HRD minister said he would not allow Dr Ambedkar to be "disparaged" as the architect of Indian Constitution did not belong to any particular segment but entire nation

New Delhi: A cartoon on Dr BR Ambedkar in NCERT textbooks led to pandemonium in Parliament on Friday forcing HRD Minister Kapil Sibal to apologise with an assertion that these "objectionable" caricatures were being withdrawn and other "concrete" action taken, reports PTI.

Responding to concerns expressed by members in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, Mr Sibal said the government will also examine whether any criminal offence was made out against those who drew or included Ambedkar's cartoon in the textbook.

Members of BSP, SP, RJD, AIADMK and CPI and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) created uproar in both Houses, demanding action against those responsible for the cartoon.

The turmoil led to two adjournments of the Lok Sabha before the final one for the day at around 2.10pm. The Rajya Sabha also was also adjourned twice till 2.30pm when Mr Sibal made a statement.

Admitting that cartoon on Dr Ambedkar in the textbook was "objectionable" as were many other such caricatures, he said he had already ordered their removal. "The content is not appropriate...It is being withdrawn... This morning I called the NCERT Director and told him that there should be no further distribution of the books," Mr Sibal told the Rajya Sabha.

He said "concrete" steps are being taken to ensure that no such thing happens in the future.

Noting that the cartoon was incorporated in the textbook, not by any official of the NCERT, but by a committee of academics, he said they would no more be associated with such work.

Outside Parliament, Mr Sibal told reporters that he was "willing to personally apologise" although "I was not the minister at that time in 2006. I was not involved in the publication of the books."

When I got information in the beginning of April, I wrote a letter to NCERT that such a cartoon should not be there as it is objectionable... On 26 April 2012, I wrote to NCERT stating that it is considered advisable to withdraw the cartoon. After this, they set up a Committee to examine this," Mr Sibal said.

"Then I called all textbooks and found there are many other such cartoons about other leaders which are objectionable. Then I decided to set up a Committee to look into all textbooks," the HRD Minister said.

He said there was no question of anybody trying to malign Dr Ambedkar or anybody trying to make fun of him because that "I think will be against the secular ethos of our country".

Mr Sibal said he would not allow Dr Ambedkar to be "disparaged" as the architect of Indian Constitution did not belong to any particular segment but entire nation.

When asked by BSP member Mayawati as to what action the Government was taking against those responsible for inclusion of Ambedkar cartoon in textbooks and by when would action be taken, Sibal said, "Nothing objectionable about Babasaheb Ambedkar will be allowed and action will be taken so that this is not repeated."

Earlier, members of BSP, SP, RJD, AIADMK, CPI and VCK, carrying photocopies of the cartoon, rushed into the Well in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, forcing two adjournments of both Houses before lunch.

In the Lok Sabha, VCK member Thirumaa Valavan Thol raised the issue and demanded Mr Sibal's resignation. He was soon joined by members of other parties. They alleged it was an insult to Dr Ambedkar and demanded action.



Nagesh Kini FCA

4 years ago

There is nothing 'offensive' whatsoever in Shankar's cartoons that depict Nehru and Ambedkar with whip and snail.
The opposition - read Mayawati, made maximum noise and the HRD Minister who normally is a loud mouth mouthed the apology - that was not warrented;another case of policy paralysis and pandering to Coalition Dharma.
Not that this cartoon was going to bring the govt.down!

Economy & Nation Exclusive
IRB Infrastructure tanks 41.4% as its chairman is investigated in a murder case

Managing director Virendra Mhaiskar and three members of the company are alleged to be involved in the murder of an RTI activist

The shares of IRB Infrastructure crashed 11%, on Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), today and is down 41.4% for the past seven days, on concerns on the company's future prospects. However, the highlight was the fact that its chairman, Virendra Mhaiskar and three members of the company were being investigated in the murder case of RTI activist, Satish Shetty. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had been granted permission to undertake polygraph tests on the suspects. More information on this can be accessed here: Court grants permission for polygraph test IRB's Mhaiskar in Shetty murder case

Short-term pressures will remain as there will be a leadership void and lots of decision making paralysis, whether or not its chairman and the three members will be exonerated. This has affected the company's prospects in the near-term as reflected by the price crash, which had led to shareholders' loss.

Further, according to an analyst from IFCI, the company is expected to face pressure for its Surat-Dahisar Expressway project due to traffic being bypassed to the Thane-Bhiwandi Bypass. It has also reported a decline in toll revenues from the Nagar-Kramala-Tembhurni project. Goldman Sachs has reportedly downgraded the company.

With increasing competition, the company would need a steward to steer the company towards the right direction in the interim. However, there is no report of who will be taking charge, or whether Mr Mhaiskar will continue to be at the helm, investigation notwithstanding. The polygraph test is expected to take place in the incoming weeks. Until then the stock will be viewed with concern and pessimism.




4 years ago

For years now, people have been scared about even breathing against this company, because of its reputation across the country. It is good that some truths appear to be coming out, finally.

Kingfisher pilots call off stir, management promises payments by 15th May

Kingfisher management has once again assured the employees of remitting the January salaries by 15th May, and a part-payment of the February dues would follow soon

New Delhi/Mumbai: A section of Kingfisher Airlines pilots on Friday called off their two-day-old agitation over non-payment of salaries after some tough talk by the carrier's chief Vijay Mallya, who vowed to deal with the situation "firmly", reports PTI.

The pilots decided to return to work following a meeting with the the airline management in New Delhi after flights were cancelled for the second day today. The stir added to the woes of passengers already hit by Air India pilots agitation.

The airline was forced to cancel 12 flights from Delhi and Mumbai today as around 70-odd pilots from north India did not report for duty. It cancelled 17 flights yesterday.

The management has once again assured the employees of remitting the January salaries by 15th May, and a part-payment of the February dues would follow soon, airline sources told PTI.

"In view of the developments, the pilots, who had been reporting sick since yesterday, have decided to withdraw their agitation and resume duties," they said.

According to the sources, the meeting came a day after Mr Mallya sent a strong message over the agitation in a communication to the employees. "I will not allow a small group of misguided employees to derail and jeopardise the efforts of several thousand members of our family and all the stakeholders in Kingfisher Airlines. I will act firmly and decisively in order to protect our guests, our loyal and dedicated employees and our Company," Mr Mallya said.

Around 1,800 employees have already received their salaries which include some co-pilots, sources said, adding that "Mumbai pilots have (already) decided to fly". The airline currently has around 7,000 workforce.

"We managed to earn credibility and loyalty amongst our dear guests with a stable 'holding schedule' with good integrity and on time performance. Unfortunately, as a result of actions by a few, this and the dedicated efforts and passion of all of you could be at risk," the Kingfisher chief said.

Kingfisher Airlines has been facing financial troubles for almost a year now. The airline reported a net loss of Rs444.26 crore in the December quarter. It suffered a loss of Rs1,027 crore in 2010-11 and has a debt of Rs7,057.08 crore.


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