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Video of Minor Himachali Schoolgirls, Boys Smoking Making Rounds on Social Media: It’s Time We Realise Reasons, Law & Ethics

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Himachali School Girls Smoking Video 1

Shimla-A video showing some boys and girls of a school experimenting with tobacco appeared on social media platforms WhatsApp and Facebook on Monday, March 4, 2019. All the students were in school uniform, though it is not confirmed yet whether students were of a government or private school. From the dialect used by these students in conversation with each other, it can be guessed that the video is recorded in some part of lower Himachal.

For the public, it is an OMG moment, which they are not able to resist sharing on social media.

Apparently, the video went viral in no time, raising questions over the productivity of school campaigns organized by the State Police and Government to create awareness among studentsabout ill habits like smoking and substance and drug abuse.

Local media also got its hands on the video and uploaded it with disregard to the fact that it contains visual of minors.  It is pertinent to mention that the Juvenile Justice Board legally prohibits making any such content public which violates a minor’s right to privacy and causing embarrassment or humiliation.

The person who recorded it was heard telling students that he has filmed them smoking and that he would go to their school with it. Speaking in the same local dialect, he appears to be someone who is unaware of laws related to minors. His sharing this clip on WhatsApp could be attributed to this lack of awareness. 

However, media persons are expected to be aware of the laws. Opposed to it, the regional news portals hardly compromise viewership in effort to upholdethics of journalism.The regional media portals compete with online editions of national Hindi dailies for viewership. They want to be faster than these dallies, which makes it difficult to accommodate ethics while reporting.

Himachal Watcher tried to confirm if the video was old or morphed. HW searched the web and consulted some journalists working with Hindi dailies and online portals. Though the police could not confirm anything about the school or the authenticity of it, the video did not appear tobe old or edited.  

There are two major reasons why the public should refrain from sharing such videos of minors on social media platforms. 

It’s an Offence

First, it’s a legal offence and there is a punishment for it.

Himachal Watcher talked to legal consultant Deven Khanna about the laws strictly prohibiting exposing such visual content containing minors to the public.


Right to privacy of a child under article 21 of the Constitution is violated when such images are spread without his consent and against his interest, it can lead to harassment and abuse. Right to privacy as (stated by Supreme Court) with its attendant values assures “dignity” to the individual, and it is only when life can be enjoyed with dignity can liberty be of true substance. Privacy ensures the fulfilment of dignity.

said Deven Khanna.

He guided us to The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act that lays down:


The media should not disclose the names, addresses or schools of juveniles in conflict with the law or that of a child in need of care and protection, which would lead to their identification. The exception, to the identification of a juvenile or child in need of care and protection, is when it is in the interest of the child. The media is prohibited from disclosing the identity of the child in such situations.

Similarly, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) stipulates that:


No child shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy, family, or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his or her honour and reputation.

The child has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks, said Deven.

Article 40 of the Convention, states that the privacy of a child accused of infringing penal law should be protected at all stages of the proceedings, he said.

Second, it could prove to be a disaster that may push these tender victims deeper into drug/substance abuse.

It Would Do More Harm Than Good

If we take a careful look at the video and hear their conversation, then there is a very crucial perspective, which is being neglected completely.

From their conversation, it is not hard to figure out that most of these students were newly introduced to tobacco, suggesting they were in still the experimentation phase.  Adolescents are the most vulnerable population to initiate tobacco use. There are piles of scientific research studies to establish this fact. Adolescence tobacco use is a global issue and researchers have worked on several aspects in hope to determine what makes adolescence most vulnerable to tobacco use.

In the video, one of the girls is showing her friends she can exhale smoke through the nostrils. Some of them do not even know how to take a puff.

Why you smoke it? What do you experience; one of the girls can be heard asking her friends curiously.

A boy and a girl can be heard inviting another girl to try a smoke. They encourage her to inhale it properly. 

“It’s ok, inhale it,” a boy tells a girl while handing her a smoke.

The girl tries it and ends up coughing and leaves the smoke. Only two of them appeared to be smoking for a while.

Their conversation and body language suggested the usual reason for an inclination towards this bad habit – a sense of adventure and peer influence. By the time children reach adolescence, their sense of exploration and self-identity also intensify, which is a natural process.

What Does Psychologists Say

HW talked to Ranjana Sharma, who has worked as a school counselor for over five years and is also perusing her PhD in Psychology from Himachal Pradesh University.

This is an unethical and unlawful way to deal with school students in their adolescence. It could bring a lot of embarrassment for these tender minds and cast long-term adverse effects on the personality of these students. That’s the reason the Juvenile Justice Board has prohibited the publishing of any content that violates the privacy of the minors,

Ranjana said

She explained that the circulation of this video would lead to the identification of these school students, at least in their respective localities. Within no time, the entire school staff and other students would be spotting these students out.It would lead to their branding as bad students. These, like in most cases where students are caught in such situations, would become a topic of staff-room gossip.

They would be facing regular teasing from other students and their social circle. They would become vulnerable to bullying. It would be too much for adolescent minds to cope with. A continuous negative reinforcement could push them deeper into substance/drug abuse, she said. 

Instead of uploading this video directly on social media, the person who shot it should have approached the principal of their respective school and shares this video with him/her. In an ideal situation, the principal would have identified the students and with the help of staff members could have referred them to the school counselor.  The counselor could then counsel them first and then talk to their parents. It’s fitting to point, the Government, unfortunately, has no clue how badly schools need professional counselors, a reason, most schools do not have a student counselor.

So, here, in the lack of a counselor, the school should summon the parents and make them aware of the instance. The principal must ensure that the identity of these students remains confidential and the staff must be advised to do the same.

In case, it is not possible to elicit the name of the school from students, then one can go to the local police station and provide them with a copy of the video for investigation.

Again, the police would have to ensure confidentiality regarding the identity of the students.  

This matter is more complicated than it would appear to a layman.  It is now well established that most of the adult users of tobacco start tobacco use in childhood or adolescence. Researchers also suggest the age at first use of tobacco has been reduced considerably. Moreover, this section is the prime targets of the tobacco industry.

There are several factors leading to the initiation of tobacco use in adolescence. It’s a complex amalgam of factors like risk-taking behaviors, easy access, advertising and exposure to tobacco products at the point of sale, personality factors, the macho feeling, underlying emotional and psychological problems, peer influence etc.

Researches On Early Adoloscence Tobacco Use

Poor school performance, truancy, school dropout, and low aspiration for the future are found related to early use of tobacco.

As per 2003 study titled “Tobacco use by Indian adolescents” published in a research journal,


Adolescents typically become addicted to nicotine while still being teenagers. Usual interval between the first cigarette consumption and daily smoking is 1–2 year(s). More than half of the adolescent smokers try to quit smoking every year with fewer than 20% being able to quit for a month.

Smoking by a close relative (father, mother, sister/brother) or friends isalso associated with smoking by the adolescent.

As per a 2018 Indian cross-section study on tobacco consumption practice in school going adolescent of a Gujarat city,

Adolescent generally aspire for tobacco consumption from their parents or any family member. Prevalence of tobacco consumption was higher in adolescents of the family having any tobacco consuming member (81.91%). Family problems led adolescents to use tobacco. Prevalence of tobacco consumption was significantly higher (64.78%) in adolescents coming from families where family problems were very common.

As per a study titled “Longitudinal study of adolescent tobacco use and tobacco control policies in India”,

Exposure to tobacco advertisements and products at the point-of-sale has been linked to adolescent tobacco use, increased brand recognition in students, impulse purchases of tobacco in smokers, and exposures are concentrated in low-income neighbourhoods.

Working status of the mother plays a crucial part in the development of their children. Adolescents of working mothers were more prone to tobacco consumption in comparison to adolescents whose mothers were housewives. The difference related to the working status of mother and tobacco consumption by their adolescents was statistically significant

A 2019 study tries to assess the association between socio-demographic factors such as age, gender, the area of residence, father’s education, and standard of living and the likelihood of tobacco use in adolescence.

The Indian Government is officially running several programs like National Tobacco Control Programme (NTCP), National Adolescents Health Programme (NAHP) and National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancers, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke (NPCDCS.) 

However, the situation is not getting any better.

The government needs to understand that this situation can be best handled with a scientific approach.

As a counselor, over plain lectures, I develop actual activities to create awareness about the ill effects of tobacco use of drug/substance abuse. The students take part in these activities with more interest,

Ranjana said. 

At the same time, to deter the public from uploading such content on social media, the Cyber Cell of the State Police and the Government need to take steps to create awareness regarding laws related to minors.

Madan has studied English Literature and Journalism from HP University and lives in Shimla. He is an amateur photographer and has been writing on topics ranging from environmental, socio-economic, development programs, education, eco-tourism, eco-friendly lifestyle and to green technologies for over 7 years now. He has an inclination for all things green, wonderful and loves to live in solitude. When not writing, he can be seen wandering, trying to capture world around him in his DSLR lens.

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Social Media Platforms Agree to Come up With Code of Ethics, says ECI After a Meeting With Representatives

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Lok sabha elections 2019 and social media platforms

New Delhi-The usage of Social Media ahead of the Lok Sabha Elections 2019 is one of the biggest causes of worry for the Election Commission of India as well as the people. The social media platforms do not have any provisions like the Model Code of Conduct.

The role of social media in helping spread information as well as curbing misinformation cannot be underestimated. There is a desperate need to come up pro-actively with deterrents like some punitive action against users misusing the platform.

Considering this issue of ethics, the Election Commission of India today had an interactive session with representatives of various Social Media Platforms and Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). The representatives from social media organizations such as Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter, Google, ShareChat, TikTok and BigoTV attended the meeting.

The Chief Election Commissioner cited Model Code of Conduct as a unique and historic document, which is followed by all political parties /entities from the date of declaration of schedule of elections till the election process is concluded.

Arora said the Social Media Organizations are formidable force-multiplier and asked them to come up with a similar Code for the ongoing election process in the immediate context and a lasting document in the long run.

Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa pointed out that today’s has been a momentous meeting for the evolution of ‘behaviour’ of Social Media platforms on Social Media.

Voluntary restraint is a hallmark of civilized society and works as effectively as any regulation, he said. He suggested that the management should consider a clear clause on users’ voluntarily agreeing not to misuse social media platforms for election or political purposes.

The need for the appointment of dedicated grievance channel for expeditious action by the organizations, pre-certification, and transparency in the expenditure of political advertisements was also raised in the meeting. The meeting focused on evolving a notification mechanism by social media platforms for acting upon the violations of Section 126 of R.P. Act, 1951 and preventing misuse of these platforms. 

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Manohar Parrikar Was ‘Chief Minister of Commoners’, Says Cabinet condoling his demise

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Manohar Parrikar Condoloscence messages

New Delhi– The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, today condoled the sad demise of Manohar Parrikar, Chief Minister on March 17, 2019, at Panaji, Goa.  The Cabinet observed silence for two minutes in his memory.  Parrikar had been in and out of hospitals since February last year after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

He was cremated with full state honours at Panjim’s Miramar Beach this evening. He was 64-years-old.

The Cabinet had also approved observing one day of mourning by the Government of India and flying the National Flag at half-mast on March 18, 2019, in all the States/UTs Capitals including Delhi and throughout the State of Goa.

The Cabinet expresses profound sorrow at the sad demise of Shri Manohar Parrikar, Chief Minister of Goa in the evening of 17th March 2019 at Panaji, Goa. In his passing away, the country has lost a veteran and distinguished leader, affectionately called as the Chief Minister of commoners,

said a condolence Resolution of the Cabinet.

The President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, also condoled the passing away of Parrikar.

Extremely sorry to hear of the passing of Shri Manohar Parrikar, Chief Minister of Goa, after an illness borne with fortitude and dignity. An epitome of integrity and dedication in public life, his service to the people of Goa and of India will not be forgotten.

the President said

About Manohar Parrikar


Born on December 13, 1955, at Mapusa, Goa, Parrikar was educated at Loyola School, Margao and later graduated in Metallurgical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai in 1978. Before entering politics, Parrikar had joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) at a young age and became a Mukhya Shikshak (Chief Instructor) in the final years of his schooling itself. After graduating from IIT, he resumed RSS work in Mapusa and became a Sanghchalak at the age of 26.

As a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Parrikar was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Goa in 1994. He became the Chief Minister of Goa for the first time on 24th October 2000 and continued till 27th February 2002. He was re-elected as Chief Minister on 3rd June 2002 and served till 2nd February 2005.  He became Chief Minister of Goa for the third time on 9th March 2012 and continued till 8th November 2014. On 9th November 2014, Shri Parrikar became Union Minister of Defence and continued till 13th March 2017, he was again sworn in as Chief Minister of Goa on 14th March 2017.

He is credited with the building of modern Goa and to the modernization of India’s Armed Forces as well as improvement to the lives of ex.-Servicemen.

Parrikar was awarded the ‘Distinguished Alumnus Award’ by IIT Mumbai in 2001, Honorary Doctorate by National Institute of Technology, Goa in 2018, and the Dr. S.P. Mukherjee Award in 2018, among others. He is survived by his two sons.

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Parents Protest Loot by Himachal’s Private Schools, Education Minister Advises Sending Children to Govt Schools

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Loot by Private Schools in Himachal Pradesh 2

Shimla- Levying of hefty fee by private schools in Himachal Pradesh continues despite instructions by the Supreme Court, State High Court and MHRD Ministry. The assurances of the State Government to regulate private schools has also proved insignificant. Parents allege that after court orders to remove the building fund and the admission fee, the schools have only changed the methods of fleecing them with exorbitant fees.

Now, their free booklets have removed the colums of building fund and admission fee and replaced them with annual charges, tuition fee, smart-classroom charges, SMS service charges etc. They have not only adjusted the previously charged funds under new columns but also hiked the total charges, parents alleged.     

Distressed parents have organized under the banner of Parent-Student forum and are again out on the roads to protest against private schools and incapability of the government to take appropriate action. They are asking the government to regulate private schools and make them accountable and responsible. Three main demands of the parents include regulation of fee structure, syllabus, and admission process.

Video

On March 11, 2019, parents gathered outside the Office of the Deputy Commissioner, Shimla, to hold a protest. On March 13, the forum staged another protest outside the Directorate of Higher Education. The protests are likely to continue until the government addresses the issue, suggested the convenor of the forum, Vijender Mehra.

Parents complained that schools did not consult them before implementing fee hikes for the current session. They also alleged that schools flaunted all regulations while doing so. After extracting hefty fees, some schools were charging an additional Rs. 35-40 in the name of tours, parents alleged. If that was not enough to burden the parents, the schools charge money for their events too, the convenor of the forum said.

My son was in the second class last year, and I paid about 50,000 to the school as various fees. This year, I will have to pay more,

a father told Himachal Watcher on the condition of anonymity.    

Schools have imposed compulsions on parents regarding purchase of books and uniforms. Parents are strictly ordered to buy them from shops selected by schools, where books and uniforms are sold at thrice or four times the normal cost, the convenor said.

Vendors selected by schools set stalls inside the campus and parents must buy books from these vendors. It’s a strict instruction given by the school. These vendors sell books at a higher price as parents are rendered helpless by the school,

said another parent on the condition of not mentioning the name of the school.

Schools tie up with these vendors and fetch fat commissions from them every year on the sale of stationary and uniforms, the parents allege.

If the number of students enrolled in these schools is considered, then they are earning almost over Rs.6 crores per year. Including the commissions from books and uniforms, this amount increases to almost Rs. 7 crore. Their expenditure including salaries of teachers doesn’t exceed Rs. 3 crores. Rest of the amount is their surplus,

the convenor of the forum said.

Himachal Watcher talked to some parents of children enrolled in various private schools in Shimla. It turned out that Rs. 30,000 – 50,000 per annum is a common amount for the majority of schools. For reputed ones, this cost reaches upto Rs. 60, 000.

I have two sons enrolled a reputed private school in Shimla. Elder one is in class II and younger one is in LKG. Last year, I paid about Rs. 90,000 as their fee,

a mother – resident of Summerhill- told HW.  

The schools justify annual hike and hefty charges saying that they are fully self-funded. To hike salaries of teachers, the fees are also hiked every year, non-funded private schools argue.

According to Right to Education (RTE), all private schools are supposed to reserve 25 percent of the seats for children hailing from economically weaker sections. In 2014, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) had also issued fresh guidelines to private schools. The parents alleged that schools are not following these rules. The government, they alleged, is behaving like a mute spectator.

It is seen that MLAs, bureaucrats, leaders of the ruling, as well as the opposition, enroll their children in reputed private institutes because they don’t believe in the quality of education and facilities provided in government institutes. While middle class parents also dodge the government institutions because they have begun to find consolation in the fact that their children are at least receiving the best possible education they can afford to secure their future, which government schools cannot provide.

I won’t send my children to government schools because I want them to explore their full potential and develop their personalities. I want them to develop enough self-confidence and communication skills to face the modern, tough competitive world. Currently, government schools are just not able to offer much to children,

said a father of two and resident of New Shimla.

What Does Education Minister Says?

The Education Minister Suresh Bhardwaj, in response to these protest, told media that he is well aware of this loot. His advice to parents was to send their children to Government schools. As per the Minister, the Government schools are tip-top and quality of education is at par with private schools.

Since assuming the office, the Education Minister was reluctant to accept that a decline in enrollments in government schools is a result of the degrading quality of education. As per his statement in February 2019, parents send their children to private schools for it has become a status symbol. He also claimed that introducing pre-nursery classes in about 390 government schools have resulted in the additional enrollment of 40,000.  He also claimed that 99.7 percent of government schools have toilet facility and that 18 percent of the budget is being spent on education.    

It’s pertinent to mention that the HP Private Education Institutions (Regulation) Act does exist, but its hardly playing any role in regulating schools.

The school aren’t even following the instruction given by the Directorate of Higher Education to submit records of their annual charges for the session 2018-2019.

Other states have developed their own regulatory mechanism to deal with loot by private schools. For example, the State of Gujarat has the Self Financed Schools (Regulation of Fees) Act. It makes State Government competent of forming laws for state boards, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE). 

However, it appears that the Government in Himachal is trying to delay forming and implementing any such regulatory law.

Parents also question the government’s disinterest in the implementation of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009.

Moreover, irrespective of political parties in power, private schools are hardly audited.

In January 2018, right after coming into power, the Education Minister had assured the people that a policy would be introduced to check arbitrary fee structures of private schools in the State. The laws formed by other states to prevent private schools from exploiting parents financially would be studied, he had said. He had also said that very soon these schools would be brought under the Regulatory Commission.   

In March 2019, the Education Minister has again given an assurance that the Government would make provisions to regulate private schools.  The Government did not mention any deadline or estimated time it would take to frame laws and implement them. Meanwhile, schools have already begun extorting this year’s fees.

The parents also said that they would be meeting the Education Minister during the current week with their plea. The parents have warned the government of more such protests if no action was taken to tighten the noose around these schools.

What Does Law Say?

Operation of private schools and commercialisation of education has long been a matter of litigation across the country. The Supreme Court in December 2018 had ordered a 20 per cent decrease in fees charged by upscale private schools. The schools were ordered to return half the fees they had charged for summer vacations. This order was applicable across the country whose fees were in excess of Rs 5, 000.

The apex court had also ordered that private schools can only increase their fee by five percent each year.

Before it, cases like Islamic Academy of Education versus State of Karnataka (2003) and Modern School versus Union of India (2004) have clearly stated that educational institutions should be allowed to make only ‘reasonable surplus’. The schools were expected to use this profit to provide better facilities and not for profiteering by the school management.

Apparently, the welfare of society lies in putting a check on the commercialisation of education. Good education lies at the foundation of a strong, healthy democracy. At least, education must not be put on sale.

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