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‘Godse my ideal’ as topic for kids’ elocution — Gujarat official suspended, school caught in row

Kusum Vidhyalaya in Valsad has been mired in controversy since a talent hunt on its premises on 14 February included 'My ideal — Nathuram Godse’ as an elocution subject.

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New Delhi: Kusum Vidhyalaya, a school run by a private trust in Gujarat’s Valsad, is in the eye of a controversy, since a district-level talent hunt organised on its premises on 14 February, included ‘My ideal — Nathuram Godse’ as one of the subjects for an elocution competition.

According to District Education Officer B.D. Baraiya, the talent hunt, which saw the participation of students from 25 government and private schools in the district, was organised by the District Yuva Vikas or youth development office. Baraiya denied his department’s role in the event and also claimed he was not aware of any such topic being given to the students.

The Youth Services and Cultural Activities department of the Gujarat government suspended Neetaben Gavli, a youth development officer, Wednesday afternoon in relation to the event. The suspension came after questions regarding the controversial topic for the elocution competition were raised on social media.

Meanwhile, the authorities of Kusum Vidhyalaya have also been in the spotlight, especially after it was reported that they took away the award received by a student of the school, who had spoken on the same subject and been judged the winner of the competition.

ThePrint reached Valsad District Collector Kshipra Agre on the phone, and she said, “we have suspended the officer concerned (Gavli), according to the orders of the state cultural department in Gandhinagar. An inquiry has been sought into what happened and how the topic was selected”.

The controversy

The event held Monday, included 13 competitions or activities as part of a district-wide children’s talent hunt or ‘Bal pratibha shodh spardha’. Participants included students between the ages of eight to 12 years. Competitions were held in the categories of elocution, doha chhand sopai (reciting dohas or couplets), folk music, narration of folklore, essay writing, playing character roles, choral music, singing bhajans, folk dance and crafts, among others. The prize distribution ceremony too was held on the same day.

According to the authorities of Kusum Vidhyalaya, the topics for the elocution competition were given to participants 24 hours prior to the event. In addition to ‘Maro adarsh Nathuram Godse’, the other topics included ‘I will become a scientist, but will not go to America’ and ‘If I was a bird, I would fly away’.

School authorities deny role

Denying their role in what has now become a controversy in the city, Archana Desai, the trustee of Kusum Vidhyalaya, told ThePrint that the elocution subject on Nathuram Godse was indeed problematic, but the school was unaware of the issue beforehand, and was not informed about the details of the competition before the event started.

Speaking to ThePrint over the phone from Valsad, Desai said, “this topic is problematic and had we known about it we would have definitely looked into”.

“The topic was given Sunday and was directly sent to the parents. None of the parents brought this up or we would have at least been aware of such a thing. We had only provided six of our classrooms to the district authorities for them to be able to conduct the competition. It is unfair to drag the school’s name into the controversy,” she added.

Media reports claiming that the school has taken back the award received by its student for speaking on the subject related to Godse, has added to the school’s problems.

However, denying the reports, school administrator Vivek Desai told ThePrint that nothing of the sort took place.

“Our student Tehsheel Vajid Sheikh spoke on the topic ‘I will become a scientist’, and still holds the first position in the elocution competition,” Vivek Desai said.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)

Also read: Cliched, monotonous, lazy — ‘Why I Killed Gandhi’ is not worth the hype


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