Who is Harsh Mander? Why is this apex child rights body seeking NCERT's explanation over including a story by him in textbooks?

When raids were conducted by Enforcement Directorate at Mander's office and home, many activists and intellectuals had condemned the raids 
Who is he? | (Pic: Edexlive)
Who is he? | (Pic: Edexlive)

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), the apex child rights body, has sought an explanation from the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) over including a story by social activist Harsh Mander in a school textbook. Mander is a retired IAS officer, activist and vocal critic of the government who has been accused of money laundering while running children's homes.    

NCPCR Chief Priyank Kanoongo, in a letter addressed to NCERT, stated that after a complaint was received, the story's content was examined and it was found that it negates a few 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 organizations and undermines the country's mechanism including disaster management agencies and other authorities," the letter said, as reported by PTI.

It was with regard to Weathering the Storm in Ersama, a story which has been included in the English book Moments for Class IX, that the complaint was received, said the commission. 

In the supplementary reading book, the chapter (story) included, has been written by Harsh Mander among other stories by renowned literary figures. As far as the complaint goes, it raises questions over including a story authored by someone who has been accused of money laundering while running homes for children.

The other two stories mentioned as suggestive reading, A Home on the Street and Paying for his Tea, mentioned at the end of the chapter also present a similar picture, stated the NCPCR chief and added that the two stories have been included without cross-checking the current scenario of the care and protection of India's children.

"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.

Kanoongo said in a letter that the matter is being forwarded so that appropriate action can be taken. NCERT was also requested to ensure that no misguiding accounts are depicted in books' stories or chapters. The commission will need to be appraised of the action that needs to be taken within seven days of issuing the letter. 

No official from NCERT was available for comments immediately. 

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