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BJP doesn't want it, so got child rights panel to stop ‘Desh Ka Mentor’: Sisodia

Delhi government and the NCPCR have been at loggerheads regarding the programme with the commission citing that the initiative will expose children to unknown persons and increase the possibility of crime and abuse. The ‘Desh Ka Mentor' programme was launched in October last year.
Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia said the Union territory government has taken “extreme care” while deciding the structure of the ‘Desh Ka Mentor’ programme. (HT Archive)
Published on Jan 14, 2022 03:37 PM IST
Written by Sharangee Dutta | Edited by Poulomi Ghosh, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia on Friday claimed that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) does not want the Union territory government to continue with the ‘Desh Ka Mentor’ programme; hence they used the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) to stop the same. He added that a BJP worker from Chhattisgarh complained about the programme being a “threat” to a child's safety.

“[The] BJP does not want (Aam Aadmi Party) AAP's 'Desh ka Mentor' programme to continue so they used NCPCR to stop [it] on a complaint by a BJP worker from Chhattisgarh, who said it is a ‘threat’ to a child's safety,” Sisodia was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

The NCPCR has raised concerns against the mentor programme a couple of times, with the latest being on January 11 when it wrote to the Delhi government seeking suspension of the same. The child rights body alleged the programme exposes children to unknown persons and that it should be suspended till the loopholes are taken care of.

In the January 11 letter, the NCPCR said that it wrote to the Delhi chief secretary last month following which a response arrived from the UT government's directorate of education (DoE) on January 3. However, the commission claimed the reply was “ineffectual”.

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Sisodia, however, brushed aside the claims of the child rights body, saying that all mentors involved in the programme are mandatorily needed to undertake psychometric evaluation before they are taken on board by the Delhi government.

“We have taken extreme care on these subjects while deciding the structure of the programme. Under the programme, all female students are allotted female mentors while all male students are allotted male mentors. Parental consent has been made mandatory for students to seek allotment of a mentor under the programme,” he added.

Notably, the ‘Desh Ka Mentor’ programme was launched by the Delhi government in October last year. Under it, students of classes 9 to 12 of Delhi government schools will be guided by mentors in exploring different types of career and life options. It involves “adopting” up to 10 government school students to be mentored by individuals, who are successful in their respective fields.

Bollywood actor Sonu Sood is the brand ambassador of the programme.

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