A satirical short story in which officials keep passing the responsibility of rescuing a man trapped under a Jamun tree until the buck finally stops at the Prime Minister’s door has been scrapped from the ICSE Hindi syllabus barely three months before the board exams.
A notice from the ICSE council said that the students taking the 2020 and 2021 board exams would not be asked questions from the story.
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While the council has not given any reason for the move, the decision is being questioned by noted poets.
“The story, titled ‘Jamun Ka Ped’, by Krishan Chander under short stories of Hindi ICSE (class 10) prescribed textbook will not be tested for the year 2020 and 2021 examination. The concerned teachers and candidates should be informed accordingly,” an official order by the ICSE said.
Gerry Arathoon, Secretary and Chief Executive of the council, refused to comment on the reasons behind the move. It was also not clear whether the decision has been taken for only 2020 and 2021 academic sessions or will be reversed later.
‘Jamun Ka Ped’, written in the 1960s, is a satire on bureaucratic red tape told through the story of a well-known poet who gets trapped under a jamun tree in the lawns of a secretariat building after a thunderstorm.
The tree needs to be cut for the poet to be rescued but the story talks about how the buck keeps on passing from a gardener, who reports the matter to a peon, who takes it further to the clerk and then it reaches the building superintendent.
After a clearance from the forest department, the request lands up with the culture department since the person involved was a poet, who then passes it to the foreign affairs department as the tree was planted by the prime minister of a neighbouring country.
The department rejects the request saying it may affect ties with the country and ultimately the matter is referred to the Prime Minister’s Office but the PM is on a foreign trip.
The request is placed before the prime minister when he returns and ultimately a go-ahead is given for cutting the tree to save the man. By the time the order from the PMO reaches the building superintendent, the poet dies.
Besides writing in Hindi and Urdu, Chander also wrote in English. He also penned screenplays for noted Bollywood films like ‘Dharti Ke Lal’, ‘Mamta’ and ‘Sharafat’.
Veteran Hindi poet Ashok Chakradhar said the students are mature enough to understand the satire.
“I think students of class 10 are mature enough to understand satire and decide what is appropriate or inappropriate. If the decision makers think red tape is over in the country then they should sure remove ‘Jamun Ka Ped’ from textbooks because the story’s purpose has been achieved,” he told PTI.