Union Minister of State (MoS) for Education, Subhas Sarkar has praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for inaugurating the AIIMS in West Bengal's Kalyani and said it shows that the PM is committed to fulfilling his promises.
It is difficult to determine what is more damning to the image of union minister Smriti Irani ~ doubts about her educational qualifications, or an official of Delhi University stating that the minister had issued directives not to respond to related queries. The Central Information Commission has administered a rap on the minister’s knuckles by ordering the School of Open Learning to furnish the desired information ~ hence Mrs Irani’s quip that the records of her kindergarten class could also be summoned points to a bravado that could backfire embarrassingly. Having opted for a role in political affairs, the former TV star cannot take shelter under the right to privacy that would apply to people in other walks of life. For, as the original petition contends, there are inconsistencies in her statements when tendering her nomination papers for elections she has contested. So it is more than a “moral” issue, alleged electoral malpractice is a serious matter ~ as the Allahabad High Court had once ruled in Indira Gandhi’s case. That somewhat similar queries have also been raised in respect of the Prime Minister’s education status is no comfort. It would be in the larger national interest if the matter is cleared at the earliest. Tongues will wag, and since Mrs Irani once headed the HRD ministry it is inevitable that the gossip mill will churn out theories of her having misused her authority to ensure that the university ducked tricky queries. Was the controversy one factor in her being “demoted” from HRD to textiles?
What does cause some consternation is the need for any minister to “fudge” educational qualifications when none are specified for their appointments. In public opinion any such misrepresentation equates with cheating, and no cheat should hold political office, it sends out an awful signal. Without descending into pointless name-calling, it is no secret that several ministers in governments of all political hues have no academic qualifications: but that has not necessarily disqualified them from efficiently performing ministerial duties. In some cases there have been personal distress-situations which prevented them from pursuing higher studies. Or they may have preferred to deem “the world” their university when seeking success in political pursuits.
True that it does seem “strange” that some of those holding ministerial office have no academic accomplishments, yet it reeks of arrogance to suggest that a “degree” is essential for a person to serve as a minister. That arrogance is at the root of a “wannabe” culture that proves rather embarrassing. Mrs Irani has conducted herself in a manner that suggests she has little need to “prove” herself. Hence all the more reason for her to come clean and keep the Central Information Commission out of “her” picture.