When I logged on to the Times Of India website in the morning, there were as many as three news reports of rapes in various parts of the country, a piece on the dwindling condition of the economy and many other disturbing articles on issues which must be on the priority list of our Government and the political class in general. But no they choose to fret over a 60 year old cartoon of a man, who in his lifetime raised no objection to the same!
Really has our democracy come to this, where the so called upholders of the country debate on a non-issue such as this? So there is a cartoon of B.R Ambedkar on a snail depicted as the constitution with Nehru behind him with a leash. This was made by the Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan recipient cartoonist Shankar in 1948 when B.R Ambedkar was alive. If it was objectionable or derogatory, it would probably have been raised by Dr. Ambedkar himself. He would have probably laughed at it but our politicians today have chosen to make an issue out of it.
Just to get some background on the cartoon, the constitution had taken around 3 years to take shape if I am not wrong and hence this cartoon was a political satire to throw light on that. Infact, the other politician in the cartoon had infact asked Shankar during those days to not even spare him in his caricatures. So if the people on whom the so called ‘jibes’ were intended had no problem whatsoever with it then why now, why by people who have absolutely nothing to do with it?
Who are these politicians to decide what message the students reading the NCERT books with these cartoons will get? Let them see, read and decide. Who are they to take a call on what matter should or should not be in the books? It is upto those that are qualified in the respective subjects to do so not the politicians holding the degrees of money and camouflaged vandalism.
We Indians have a terrible habit of painting everything with a colour of regionalism or classism or some other non-sense. We just do not have the ability to judge an issue or a matter on its true value and end up creating more confusion instead.
What did these leaders achieve by blowing this cartoon out of proportion? Just further wastage of the tax payers’ money by adjournments of both the houses of parliament. When they are supposed to work and take decisions that aid the growth of the country, these regressive morons are busy advertising an archaic thought process coupled with destructive outlook. What have they got by stopping further distribution of the book? I guess somebody needs to tell them every banned book in reality enlightens the world.
Actually the fact of the matter is that we have a bunch of cowards occupying the temples of democracy in our country. Even if they know deep in their hearts that this issue is not even worth flagging, they will not have the guts to say it out loud for fear of infuriating a certain section of their vote bank. They will continue doing their monkey dance, wasting precious public money and doing no good at all to the nation.
I do not know on what path our society is moving. I fear that after a few years it will be the politicians who would decide what students should read about in our country. There will be no place for free and fair criticism which is imperative to any democracy. One such platform, the cartoons, I believe in many ways are actually the mental pictures of these politicians in the minds of the common people. Right to dissent or Right to express ourselves freely are being severely encroached upon by these nincompoops who care about nothing but votes and money.
Maybe these antics of theirs will please a certain uneducated and backward section of society which is made to dance to the politicians’ tunes just for the want of money, or due to the inability to think for their own selves. But they can’t fool us all, we see right through their motives of stirring up storms on such meagre issues and giving it the anti-dalit tag.
All I can say is Censorship such as these reflects society's lack of self-belief. It shows how authoritarian our politicians crave to be. Perhaps they need to be reminded of what Voltaire once said ‘Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too.’