Smriti Irani: The Inefficient HRD Minister

Two years ago, one of the biggest change in Indian politics in every aspect, filled people with new hope in every corner of the country. The Narendra Modi government has performed exceptionally well on various fronts due to the dynamic leadership of Modi and the hard work of his ministers such as Nitin Gadkari, Piyush Goyal, Suresh Prabhu etc. However, there are few important sectors in which the government has failed to bring any monumental change and education is one of the primary area which can be counted as underperforming sector of this government. When Smriti Irani took oath as HRD Minister, she faced severe backlash and criticism from the opposition and left dominated intelligentsia due to her background. Most of the criticisms were based on their own prejudices without any substance as someone can’t be either criticised or praised before being sworn on as minister. The supporters of the government defended the stance of government with dexterity as the previous HRD ministers had failed to bring any constructive change despite having degrees from the prestigious universities. The Indian education system was still languishing.

I was skeptical about the Smiti Irani’s ability to handle such important sector and taking the Indian education system forward. I restrained myself from criticising Smriti Irani at that point of time, and supported her with the hope that she will be able to change the paradigm and narrative of Indian education system. The biggest task which was necessary at that point of time was to eradicate the dominance of leftists in the Indian education system. The destruction of leftist ecosystem in the sphere of Indian education system was inevitable because this ecosystem has shunned voices from other ideologies and leaving Indian institutions of higher learning in the field of social science and humanities with leftist scholars only. Indian education system had other significant problems too but the voters of BJP were much concerned with the left citadel in various Indian universities. After the two years, Smiriti Irani has miserably failed in breaking the leftist ecosystem in the Indian education as they continue to enjoy the state patronage unabated. Fabrication of history by Marxist historian according to their ideological stance had irked a number of people.

Marxist historians have dominated the horizon of Indian history in such a fashion that every other school of history has been discredited by Marxist historians. India’s ancient history is fabricated with inclusion of Aryan Invasion Theory which has been proved wrong by many scholars in modern time. India’s medieval history is filled with glorification of the Muslim invaders. India’s modern history is filled with the glorification of British and denigration of Indic values. When Marxist historians started receiving the patronage of Congress, they presented entire freedom movement as activities of Nehru and Gandhi, and undermining the other freedom fighters. The instances such as referring Bhagat Singh as revolutionary terrorist by Vipin Chandra, writing Aurangzeb as a secular king, Tipu Sultan as freedom fighter and benevolent king etc are so frequent in the Indian history. People wanted to get rid of these fabrication of Indian history so that they would get to read history which would be close to truth as writing completely objective history is never possible.

Considering that writing history is such monumental and rigorous task, expecting that Smriti Irani would change the entire narrative in just two years would be presumptuous. However, if she had planted the seeds of hope, people would have been optimistic about the changes in writing history of India. Y Sudershan Rao was appointed as the chairman of Indian Council of Historical Research in July 2014. The relationship between ICHR, MHRD, and Sudershan has been a complex one as Sudershan wished to resign form the post, in order to again hold it. Such unfortunate instance indicates that the government can’t find a compatible candidate from any other school of thought, other than Marxist history of thought, to head the apex body of historical research in the country. The decisions which have been taken so far by ICHR in changing the narratives can be counted on fingers. The most significant one is to map Indian scientific achievements starting from Vedic era up to 18th century. The success of such program will always remain in doubt due to absence of History of Science and Philosophy of Science departments in Indian universities. Without training the students in these disciplines, it would be an exaggeration to expect much from such projects.

The statement of Smriti Irani in parliament after the suicide of Rohith Vemula clearly showcased that she is not interested in changing the paradigm and destroying the leftist ecosystem. She clearly said that we haven’t done any change in Indian education system, yet we face the charges of ‘Saffronisation of Education’. She stressed and counted the examples to show that the scholars with left leaning has been enjoying the fruits without any check and she would maintain the status so that there won’t be any attack on government for saffronisation of education. We had elected her government to change the paradigm and destroy the dominance of left, not to cry in the parliament and to iterate that we won’t change the history. If correcting the history is saffronisation of education then people are expecting this change. What is the point in having a right wing government in centre if it still continues to patronize the leftist scholars? If the scholars from the right wing can’t make into the prestigious institutions of social sciences in India then the change in the perspective would be a far fetched dream only. Smriti Irani expressed grief over anti India slogans being chanted at JNU but she didn’t take any action to break the nexus between communists, Islamists, and separatists of JNU. This nexus runs so deep that killing of CRPF forces are celebrated and army officers are being beaten in the JNU campus.

The most effective method to break the leftist ecosystem in education sector is to end the state patronage. End of the state patronage will mean that there would be competition in the education sector and leftists can’t withstand the competition. When the fund for universities such as JNU will be decreased by the government, they need to look for the alternative source of revenue such as arranging more endowment to fund the research projects. In such system, the ideas which will be better for the market will only get the funds and ideas from the different school of thoughts will come in the mainstream too. At the present state, the school of social sciences of JNU has around 192 professors and larger chunk of the budget is spent on giving salaries to professors who produce trash on the name of research and advocate for the separation of Kashmir from India in international conferences. Replacing the right wing with left wing is a temporary solution only, as change in regime will mean restoration of previous status. We need to free our education systems from the claws of Marxist scholars so that any Jagdish Bhagwati won’t be forced to leave the institution in future, just because he wasn’t a Marxist.  

The list of achievements which were released by MHRD after two years show that the ministry has done nothing significant in either higher education or primary education. The initiatives such as putting the content of NCERT online can’t be counted as achievement where there are so many important issues which need to tackled. The government has significantly reduced the budget of existing IITs and only focusing on opening new IITs. The new IITs which are still trying to establish themselves, but government decided to open six new IITs yesterday. There has been no emphasis on increasing the research in IITs so that the brand of IIT won’t be diluted. If the government keep on opening new IITs without increasing the quality of existing IITs, IITs will only remain as names instead of being the institutions with technical excellence. If the government wants to reduce the funding then it must provide some frameworks to IITs so that they’ll look in the direction of being financially independent like US universities. The industrial revolution in Europe was preceded by Scientific revolution from 1500 to 1750. Europe excelled in manufacturing sector because the government and companies were pumping money in research and development which led to invention of the world’s most sophisticated technologies. Years ago, China was nowhere in terms of research and development but China submits more number of scientific research papers than any country except USA in present. Around one month ago, when the innovation index of countries around the world was released, India couldn’t figure in top 50 nations. Make In India will remain a dream only unless the country invests heavily in research and development. It has been unfortunate to see that the government hasn’t taken any concrete step in this direction except launching GIAN, a project in which the professors of foreign universities will collaborate with Indian universities to teach students of our country.

Rankings of technical institutions, management institutions, and universities which were released by MHRD has such bizarre names in the list that it will mislead the students rather than guiding them in choosing right institution. Vellore Institute of Technology(VIT) is ranked better than IIT BHU while Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology is ranked better than NIT Jamshedpur. On the ground, VIT would be worse in every aspect than IIT BHU except the gender ratio. The raking of management institutions have several names which don’t deserve to be in top 100. The framework which was chosen by MHRD to rank institutions have emphasized  on few obnoxious parameters such as performance in public examinations as graduation outcome. It’s known to everyone that a technical graduate will be less likely to appear in any public examination if he gets a good job in technical sector. Rather than building app which Smriti Irani loves to do, she should focus more on creating the content so that the app will be fruitful. Her oratory skills are excellent when she criticises Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi but she has got mammoth task of transforming Indian education system. Her priority should be speaking by the deeds rather than words until election approaches.

Published by Satish Verma

Read. Contemplate. Write.

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