Kalpana Kannabiran on M.S.S.Pandian's note on NCERT text books
Here is a letter I wrote to the Editor, The Hindu, which was not carried. Also relevant is the fact that Pandian's note is an independent report and not part of the deliberations of the Review Committee. The official report very clearly states that Pandian did not attend the meetings and did not participate in the discussions. He was therefore only a nominal member of the committee. His note does not form part of the report of the review committee. His note in this context can scarcely be described as a "dissent", which must by definition arise from the deliberations and must form part of the report.
I think this is necessary for us to bear in mind.
There are widely varying views on the use of cartoons in NCERT textbooks. MSS Pandian's dissent (4 July) is completely in line with one set of views that unequivocally defends the textbooks. The trouble with this view is that it dismisses criticism without applying the critical thinking that it advocates for children to its own endeavours. Pandian does not say anything new or different either in tenor or substance. Nor does his note on the face of it engage with the deliberations of the Thorat Committee. Be that as it may, what is surprising is the tenor of the editorial, which reiterates what Pandian has said, and casts all criticism of the textbooks in the language of honour and shame. Why is it a national shame if the government accepts the recommendations of the Thorat Committee and why is Pandian's dissent honourable? After due deliberation, the committee has arrived at a set of recommendations, which one can agree or disagree with. But surely The Hindu should make space for more representative stands on the issue.
Kalpana Kannabiran Council for Social Development Rajendranagar Hyderabad 500030