NCPCR seeks explanation from NCERT on including Harsh Mandar article in text book

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights has sought an explanation from NCERT on the inclusion of a story by activist Harsh Mandar, who is being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate.

In a letter to the NCERT, NCPCR Chairperson Priyank Kanoongo has written,“ The Commission has received a complaint highlighting a story titled “Weathering the Storm in Ersama’’ included in the English book ‘Moments’ for Class IX. The said chapter (story) included in the supplementary reading book is authored by Harsh Mandar among other stories by renowned literary figures. The complaint raises question over inclusion of the story by a person who is accused of money laundering while running children’s homes in the countly’’.

“Harsh Mandar isn’t some literary figure or legend that his article should be included in the text book. What is the need to tell children about him? Especially since he is being investigated for money laundering? According to Mandar, the country is run by NGOs, not by the government or society or any other professionals. And that is the kind of lessons he will try to impart to children. There is nothing written about him or by him that needs to be taught to children. When he is a fugitive, how can they include his writing,’’Kanoongo told The Indian Express.

“ Upon receiving the complaint, the content of the story has been examined and it has been found that the story contains text that is beyond the Juvenile Justice Act. 2015 which is the primary law for children in the country and is hence, outdated as it negates the different provisions of the Act. Also, the narrative of the story is built in a way to suggest that the rescue and welfare work are only carried out by the non-government organizations and undermines the country’s mechanism including disaster management[ER1] agencies and other authorities. For, instance. after the super cyclone in 1999 that ravaged parts of Odisha, the State has developed a robust evacuation mechanism due to which the damage is reduced by several folds,’’says the NCPCR letter.

The Commission has pointed out that two other stories – “A Home on the Street’’ and “Paying for his tea’’ also present similar scenarios and have been included without verifying the actual scenario of care and protection of children in the country.

The Commission has sought an explanation from NCERT within a week and has asked it to take appropriate action. “ lt is also requested that NCERT may also ensure that no such misguiding account is reflected in other stories/chapters in the books,’’it has said.

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