The new academic session is always fraught with the unscrupulous methods embraced by the publishers and retailers of school textbooks. This tendency gets repeated with unfailingly regularity every Chaitra and Baisakh, when the schools reopen for the year after the annual examinations. This is when the woes for the parents of school-going children are at their height. It would not have been so painful for the guardians but it is so all because of the often tacit agreement between the various school textbook publishers in the country. Anyone can observe the high handed manner in which the publishers act by even disregarding the directives of the Curriculum Development Centre (CDC). Selling textbooks at inflated prices has become a routine practice with the local administration remaining mute spectators. This is highly painful for the students who want to have the books by the time the schools reopen. The unfortunate fact is that the Janakpur Education Materials Centre (JEMC), which has the responsibility of printing the certified textbooks recommended for the schools, fails to print the books in time so the public schools and the students receive them much later when the academic year has advanced more than a quarter or so. That gives the private publishers the leverage to push their books cunningly.
That said, the observation of the textbook market sees many obvious malpractices prevalent. It has been revealed that though CDC has directed the publishers a fixed rate for printing a book, it has been totally disregarded and only the profiteering motive guides them. Action against the defaulters is rarely taken even when thuggery has been reported and publicised. Maybe the local administration is reluctant to take action or there is some kind of a secret nexus. Selling books at a higher price than the actual one is total cheating which is a criminal offence by all means, and the same is applicable to any other commodity in the market. Moreover, the publishers are not allowed to fix their random prices for the textbooks, and they have to follow the regulation of the CDC, but this is not done and the regulatory body stands helpless. It is a glaring revelation that many publishers remove the original price tag and stick one that highly inflates the genuine price which the students’ parents have to bear that is an unlikely financial burden. That many publishers of textbooks are under the scanner suggests that it not one or two but probably all involved in the blackmarketing activity.
It is true that JEMC prints approved school books, and they must guide all throughout the school level studies till Class 10. But, what is seen is that many schools add their choice costly books as reference materials which is like holding the students to ransom, that is to say both the publishers and the schools reap undue profits, while the guardians have to bear the exorbitant costs year after year. The JEMC has to fulfil its obligation to get the officially approved books in the hands of the students before the academic session begins, and the publishers must be warned against artificially doctored price tags, and the violators must be subjected to stern action.
Save the dolphins
Dolphins, which are highly exotic mammals, are under threat in most of their habitats worldwide. The Janaknagarghat area of the Karnali River used to be the habitat of hundreds of dolphins prior to 1980. Now, it is believed that there are only about six dolphins remaining in the region. Recently, a dolphin was found dead in this area. It is believed that the dolphin died either from lung infection because of the decrease in the level of the water in the river or because of the increase of pesticide content in the river water. It is highly unfortunate that the population of dolphins has dwindled to an alarming level, and that they could be going the way of dodo unless some measures were taken to safeguard their habitat and protect them from unscrupulous poachers.
We should do all we can in order to save the endangered dolphins. It would indeed be a tragedy if we are unable to do so. In fact, there should be a campaign carried out to raise awareness about the value of saving animals like dolphins. Again, it goes without saying, that those found poaching dolphins should receive stiff punishment.