Right after PM’s announcement, the MHRD instructed schools & colleges under it to encourage students and staffers to participate in the event.
After MHRD sent a circular to schools and colleges advising students to burn a candle at 9 pm on Sunday, a new document has emerged in which the government has allegedly asked schools to provide information on the number of students participating in “candle lighting on the 5th April at their home,” the Quint reported.
While the prime minister had made his appeal sound like a voluntary act by citizens to show their solidarity in the fight against the novel coronavirus, the MHRD’s letter indicates that the Union government is also seeking to follow up.
In a letter dated April 3, MHRD secretary Amit Khare wrote that students may participate in the event to “to realise the power of light and to highlight the objective for which we are all fighting together.”
Moreover, the letter asked schools to urge students and their parents or family members to download the newly-launched government app Aarogya Setu, and download the AYUSH ministry’s protocol for “immunity boosting measures for self care for kids”.
In addition, the purported document also asks schools to provide the number of teachers and parents who have downloaded the Arogya Setu app. This is in contrast to an earlier circular signed by HRD Ministry Secretary Amit Khare on 3 April, which stated that “As addressed by Hon’ble Prime Minister on 3 April, 2020 students may light a candle, Diya or torch of their mobile phones for 9 minutes at 9 pm on 5th April, 2020.”
Taking a cue, the Central Board of Secondary Education circulated a letter to all schools following its curriculum, including privately-managed ones, informing them of the MHRD’s advisory.
The Wire spoke to principals of a few privately-run schools in Delhi and Chennai. All of them confirmed that they had got the circular from CBSE to implement the three-point instruction before the evening of April 6, 2020.
“We have asked our students and teachers to download the Aarogya Setu application by April 6. We have also emailed parents of our students to encourage them to light a diya on April 5. We received the notice on the morning of April 4. Although it is quite difficult for us to enforce all the directives in a day or two, we have somehow been able to do it,” the principal of one renowned school in north-west Delhi told The Wire on condition of anonymity.
Nowhere in the circular – in which Amit Khare, secretary at the HRD ministry, is the undersigned – or the enclosed attachment has it been mentioned that any of this is compulsory.
Although the MHRD order only recommends that schools implement the three-point directive, the principals with whom The Wire spoke claim that the CBSE has apparently circulated a Microsoft Excel sheet that requires the heads of schools to give out details on the number of teachers and parents who downloaded the Arogya Setu application, or the number of students who “participated in candle lighting on 5th April at their home”.
The details sought from some schools, in a way, has made the whole exercise compulsory for them, even as on paper it is meant to be only a voluntary act, reported The Wire.
(Inputs from Agencies)