National Council of Educational Research & Training (NCERT) released an official statement on Friday to clarify the reason behind including the term “chokri” in a poem of Hindi textbook, Rimjhim, prescribed for Class 1 students.
Many social media users widely criticised a children’s poem, Aam Ki Tokri, in which the word “chokri” (a non-derogatory slang term) has been used to refer to a six-year-old girl who is seen carrying a basket of mangoes over her head in order to sell them.
They considered the word offensive and suggested it be replaced.
However, a few netizens pointed out that the slang is common in certain local dialects and not considered derogatory.
Many users also claim that the poem has an undertone which is offensive.
The poem can be roughly translated as “6-year-old chhokri (girl) has mangoes that she flaunts in her basket. We don’t want to ask her name. We want to suck mangoes,” explains one Twitter user.
In the statement issued by NCERT, the council neither agreed nor disagreed with the sentiments shared.
Taking to the official handle, NCERT stated that the poem was included in the textbook under the National Curriculum Framework (NCF), 2005 perspective to give students “an exposure” to local vocabulary.
A 2009 batch Chhattisgarh cadre IAS officer, Awanish Sharanwas the first one to share the screenshot of the controversial poem on Thursday (May 20).
Screenshot 2021 05 28 at 00.13.31
Sharma, who works in the state’s technical education department, called the literature of inferior quality and questioned the credibility of the poet. Through his post, he requested the authorities to remove the poem from the syllabus.
Soon after his post went viral, netizens also raised concerns on the theme of the poem which according to them was promoting child labour.
One Twitter user expressed shock that young students are being taught such poems in their schools.
NCERT has, meanwhile, assured people that new textbooks are being prepared under the National Education Policy (NEP), 2020, which was introduced by the education minister, Ramesh Pokhriyal.
The controversial poem has been written by an Uttarakhand-based poet, Ramkrishna Sharma Khadder, who pens children’s literature.