ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Through the Lens of a Constitutional Republic

The Case of the Controversial Textbook

The textbook controversy is an opportunity for us to explore some of our core constitutional principles, especially the relationship between Parliament and freedom of expression. Parliament is certainly the space to discuss complaints of "offensive material" but should exercise its option of withdrawal of the textbooks in the "last instance" not in the "fi rst instance" as has been done in this case.


Views are personal.


The withdrawal of the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) Political Science textbooks has rightly generated a major moral and political controversy. Righteous indignation has been expressed by both sides as they have sought to marshal a battery of arguments in their defence.

These have ranged from highlighting the concerns expressed in the Constituent Assembly on the right to freedom, to observations on the growing politics of outbidding that has come to de ne our democratic practice, to explanations of the changing culture of our political institutions, to an elaboration on the innovative pedagogy for textbooks that must necessarily be adopted in a wired world, to opinions that our democracy is being undermined by the regular denigration of its political leaders, to comments on the nature and status of the icons of subaltern groups and whether, in a world of identity politics, anything critical can be said about them, to the detailing of the increasing habit of censorship that marks our public domain, to nally a discussion on the normative frame within which we have to build our constitutional republic. A politics of reading has also been proposed.

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