Thursday, 31 January 2013

My Favourite Textbook (as oxymoronic as that is)

In India after Gandhi, Ramachandra Guha (2007, p. 529), describes Indira Gandhi's behaviour during the Shah Commission's investigation of the excesses of the Emergency:

Three times she was called to the witness box; three times she came, and chose not to answer questions, claiming she was bound by the oath of Cabinet secrecy. A journalist victimsed during the emergency saw this as an 'outrageous attempt to make a mockery of the proceedings of the Commission'...

When I read this, the first image that came to my mind was one I had seen more than five years back in my NCERT Political Science Textbook for Class XII (2007 edition):

Cartoonist: R K Laxman for the Times of India
On Indira Gandhi's confrontation with the Shah Commission

I went back to the book, then realised what a glaring omission I had made in the list of books that defined growing up, for me. The book was simple, unbiased and liberal. But what made Pol Science my favourite subject, were the references to the relevant films of the time, the snippets from newspapers, and of course the cartoons. At worst these served as mnemonic devices. At best, they managed to place the textual information in context, also allowing students (at least me) to gain real perspective into current issues. If you don't believe my rambling, here is some visual evidence. These would make a better point (not to say a more entertaining blog post).

Cartoonist: Ajit Ninan for India Today
On the rise of coalition politics

Cartoonist; Sudhir Tailang for HT
On the V.P Singh Government being supported by the Left and the Right

R K Laxman for the Times of India
On the Emergency

Cartoonist: Kutty
On the manner in which State CMs were being chosen


  1. incredible cartoons! India is a DEMOCRATIC country. Hence proved. :D

    1. It certainly used to be...
      You know before I saw these, I never understood why Laxman was eulogised for his biting wit...then I totally got it :D

  2. Haha true! I remember these cartoons too. Especially the pointy nose Indira Gandhi.. it is just perfect :D