A training manual for teachers published by the NCERT has become the subject of much consternation. The training manual, which contained a series of bizarre recommendations, caused a furor on social media with people demanding answers from the government on how such a thing was ever approved.
Among other suggestions, the NCERT training manual suggested that teachers recommend puberty blockers for children. Puberty blockers are medicines that block the natural growth of children and inhibit the development of puberty. The effects are often permanent and it could very well lead to irreversible damage.
In this report, we shall take a look into the project team that came up with the training manual. Since the manual was published by the Department of Gender Studies, it is understandable that those leading the team are from the same department.
Team members from the Department of Gender Studies, NCERT
The Project Coordinator was Dr. Poonam Agrawal, former head of the department. Apart from her, Dr. Mona Yadav, head of the department, and Professor Mily Roy Anand were also members of the team. Needless to say, all three of them are highly experienced and have several degrees to boost their credibility.
According to the NCERT website, Dr. Poonam Agrawal has a specialization in Nutrition (Home Science), Bio-Chemistry, Bio-Technology, Women’s Studies, Vocational Education, International Relations, Educational Research. Dr. Mona Yadav, on the other hand, has specialization in “Girls’ Education and Science Education” while Dr. Mily Roy Anand has the same in History/Gender Studies.
External Team Members
There were 6 external team members for the project. Two among them are professors at Universities. Dr. Rajesh is a Professor at the Department of Adult and Continuing Education and Extension, University of Delhi while Dr. Bittu Kaveri Rajaraman is a professor at the Ashoka University.
Rajaraman appears to use ‘They/Them’ as their preferred pronouns.
Apart from the two, there is L. Ramakrishnan, the Vice President of SAATHII. Ramakrishnan has a doctorate degree from the University of Texas.
As per the SAATHII website, “As of 2018, his portfolio includes support to the m-Maitri digital health initiative, to LGBTIQA+ inclusion programs Empower, Access and Vistaara, Project Sambhuya, and Project Svetana. He has previously led programs on mainstreaming and decentralization of HIV/AIDS services, legal and social protection for PLHIV, use of ICT to bridge information gaps, program evaluation, and capacity building of implementers of health interventions.”
It appears that SAATHII has contributed significantly to the publication of the training manual. Founder-president Sai Subhasree Raghavan said as much in a post on Linked.in.
A SAATHII fellow also curates a blog with a racial slur in its name.
The team member, however, who would raise the most eyebrows is Vikramaditya Sahai. He is an associate at the Center for Law and Policy Research (CLPR). After the controversy erupted on social media, several publicly available pictures of Sahai that was posted by “themself” on Instagram went viral on social media.
This is one of the “External Team Members” of the project that produced the woke NCERT training manual for teachers pic.twitter.com/lwbwDKqCUK— Sensei Kraken Zero (@YearOfTheKraken) November 1, 2021
The pictures have been designated as “sensitive material” by Twitter, probably due to the extent of skin exposure. Sahai has locked their account on Instagram since then. The CLPR is co-funded by the European Union.
An individual who has posted photographs of “themself” on Instagram that are labeled “sensitive material” by Twitter was approached by NCERT to be part of a team that produced a Woke training manual for teachers. Embarrassing. pic.twitter.com/YgQaS8wgwQ— Sensei Kraken Zero (@YearOfTheKraken) November 1, 2021
Dr. Manvi Arora is an independent researcher who was part of the team. The 6th external team member was Ms. Priya Babu, a managing trustee at the Transgender Resource Center.