(Published in Millennium Post on 12 June, 2012, retrieved from http://millenniumpost.in/NewsContent.aspx?NID=3843)
The MDMK organised a huge rally at Memorial Hall in Chennai on Monday, to protest against a cartoon spoofing the anti-Hindi agitation. The party had belatedly discovered that the sketch, drawn by R K Laxman, was included in the NCERT political science textbook for Class 12.
MDMK General Secretary Vaiko has already written to Union Human Resources Development Minister Kapil Sibal, demanding the immediate removal of the cartoon from the textbook.
He has alleged that the cartoon belittles the struggle against the imposition of Hindi in schools across the country.
The cartoon, which accompanies a chapter on the Dravida Movement, portrays an angry student hurling a stone at a board that reads “Assurances: No Hindi! English to continue! No compulsion to learn Hindi. No Hindi! English forever! Etc. Etc.” Bewildered passersby reason, “The boy can’t read English either.”
In the demonstration that took place by the Memorial Hall, MDMK workers raised slogans against the cartoon, and demanding its elimination from the coursebook.
Vaiko, who took the stage, raged against the sketch in his speech. “The cartoon is aimed at humiliating the Tamil students who took part in the anti-Hindi agitation,” he said, “It distorts the history of the anti-Hindi movement. The Central government should take steps to remove it from the textbooks at once.”
Speaking to reporters earlier, Vaiko had said the cartoon gave people the impression that the student agitators were demanding English without knowing English, just to protest against Hindi. Whereas the protest was to ensure that Tamil became the official language of the state, and that English would remain the official language throughout until then. “Tamils would have become second-class citizens if Hindi were imposed on the state,” he said.
The protest has found supporters both in likely and unlikely quarters. DMK chief Karunanidhi has echoed Vaiko’s sentiments, while Tamil writer and political analyst Gnani Sankaran has agreed that the cartoon portrays Tamil students in poor light.
Gnani added, though, that he was not in favour of removal of cartoons from the textbook. “But the background and historical context must be given correctly,” he said.