Poser on Harsh Mander story in school textbook
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has sought an explanation from the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) over the inclusion of a story by social activist Harsh Mander, who has been accused of money laundering while running children homes, in a school textbook.
In a letter to the NCERT, the chief NCPCR, Priyank Kanoongo, said the content of the story titled Weathering the Storm in Ersama included in the English book Moments for Class IX was examined following a complaint, and it was found that it negated different provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015.
“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 organisations and undermines the country’s mechanism, including disaster management agencies and other authorities,” the letter said.
The commission said it 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 Shri Harsh Mandar among other stories by renowned literary figures. The complaint raises questions over inclusion of the story by a person who is accused of money laundering while running children’s homes in the country,” Kanoongo said.
The NCPCR chief said it seemed that the other two stories titled A Home on the Street and Paying for his Tea given as suggested readings at the end of the chapter also presented a similar picture and had been included without cross-checking the present scenario of care and protection of children in the country.
“It is important to note that the JJ Act was enacted in 2015 and subsequently the JJ Model Rules were also constituted in 2016. The said book has been reprinted five times between 2016-2021, and as per the reports revisions of books/syllabus have also been carried out regularly without referring to the relevant laws and without being sensitive to the issue of care and protection of children,” the NCPCR said.
“Therefore, the matter is being forwarded to you for your comments and to take appropriate action in this regard. It is also requested that the NCERT may also ensure that no such misguiding account is reflected in other stories/chapters in the books. You may apprise the Commission about the action taken within seven (07) days of issuance of this letter,” Kanoongo said in a letter.
No NCERT official was immediately available for comments.