Undertook Own Selection Process for National Children's Awards: Govt on Row Over R-Day Bravery Honour
In the past, the Bravery Awards were organised by the Indian Council for Child Welfare, but recently, the financial integrity of the NGO was questioned by the Delhi High Court.
File photo of bravery award recipients riding elephants during the Republic Day Parade. (Reuters)
New Delhi: The government has undertaken its own selection process for national children's awards and is fully prepared for it, sources said, amid its decision to dissociate itself from an NGO involved in organising the function since 1957.
In the past, the Bravery Awards were organised by an NGO, named Indian Council for Child Welfare (ICCW), but recently, the financial integrity of the ICCW was questioned by the Delhi High Court during the hearings of a writ petition.
In view of this, the government dissociated itself from the NGO and revamped the scheme of the National Awards for children last year to include bravery as an additional component in the Pradhan Mantri National Children Awards.
The government has undertaken its own selection for national children's awards, senior officials said, adding that it had advertised in August itself for the award and is fully prepared for it.
The ICCW, in its response, said it has been doing its job with full integrity and honesty.
"We are an organisation of 60 years and we have done our job with full integrity. It saddens me a lot that this is happening to our organisation," ICCW president Gita Siddhartha told PTI.
The ICCW has been handling the National Bravery Awards since 1957 and over 900 children have so far been presented with the awards.
The Women and Child Development Ministry has said an FIR has also been filed against the ICCW over alleged embezzlement of funds.
The FIR has been registered by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, which was funding the ICCW for the National Creche Scheme as well as the National Bravery Awards.
"On examination of audited accounts of the ICCW, it has been ascertained that the ICCW has not refunded the unspent balance of Rs 5,44,002 for the year 2015-16 and Rs 83,99,852 and Rs 2,19,70,197 for the years 2014-15 and 2015-16 respectively," the WCD Ministry said Thursday.
"In view of the findings of the internal inquiry committee and the fact that the ICCW has failed to refund the unspent balance available with them and their downstream entities on accounts of grants under the National Creche Scheme, the ministry was forced to file an FIR against the ICCW for embezzlement of funds," it said.
The ministry, meanwhile, reinvented the national children's awards for this year and included bravery as one of the categories under the awards now called the Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar, 2019.
The different categories of award this time is innovation (six awards), scholaristic (three awards), social service (three awards), art and culture (five awards), sports (six awards) an bravery (3 awards).
The National Selection Committee met last week under the chairpersonship of WCD Minister Maneka Gandhi and selected 26 children for the awards.
These children will be part of the official Republic Day Parade contingent this year and will be presented the awards by President Ram Nath Kovind.
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