Days after Human Resource Development Ministry 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 asked schools to provide information on the number of students participating in “candle lighting on the 5th April at their home.”
In addition, the document also asks schools to provide the number of teachers and parents who have downloaded the Aarogya 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.”
“It is not only lighting of candles, this circular has come in the form of how many people download the Ayurveda app, which is supposed to be beneficial in coronavirus treatment. But a separate form from the ministry has asked for the total number of students who light candles, total number of parents and teachers who download the Aarogya app... I don’t think it’s the right thing to do... if you are asking for a number, you are making it seem mandatory.”Principal of a North Delhi school
The HRD ministry sent in a circular addressing the UGC, NCERT, AICTE, NTA and KV, along with certain private schools. It elaborates on three points;
1. Aarogya Setu app
2. General measures to enhance body's natural defence system
3. Lighting candles at 9 pm on 5 April, for nine minutes
In addition to iOS and Android links to download the app, the protocol for immunity boosting (general measures) too was enclosed along with the circular, and available online.
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.
Yet, many feel that the form issued by the Education Directorate all but makes it so.
“Something has come from the directorate of education’s office. There’s a form, you have to fill in as to how many students participate. But, not sure that will be possible. It’s a community initiative, so community has to take it. It also has asked for the number of parents and teachers who have downloaded the Aarogya Setu app (sic).”Principal of a South Delhi school
Messages to Parents
Schools have also approached parents asking them to download the ‘Aarogya Setu’ app. A prominent Noida school sent out a message to parents saying that as per the administration directive, parents are requested to download the app to get updates and information on COVID-19.
A Delhi school communicated to parents that pictures of them and their families carrying out the 9pm candle-lighting have to be sent to the class teacher.
Various schools have sent the communication in many ways; phrasing it as a informational notice, as an activity, or just as something that needs to be done by the students. Nowhere is it mentioned that the activity is optional in any way.
As reports of schools being asked to provide a list of students who light candles went live, the HRD Ministry in a tweet said, that “there is no coercion on anyone to do the same.”
Immunity Boosting Measures
The attachments to the circular from the HRD ministry include simple Ayurvedic procedures to relieve congestion, such as nasal application of sesame oil/ghee, oil pulling, steam inhalation infused with mint leaves, etc. Also attached is a note on 'self care guidelines'.
- 01/02ayurvedic procedures.(Photo Courtesy: Ministry of Ayush)
- 02/02note on self-care based on Ayurvedic science.(Photo Courtesy: Ministry of Ayush)