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‘Class’ war over Smriti

New Delhi, May 27: Uncharitable tweets about her educational qualification have greeted Smriti Irani on her first day as human resource development minister.

Madhu Kishwar, an academic and a Narendra Modi-backer before the polls, tweeted: “Smriti Irani merely class 12 pass. Went to bcm fashion model on to tv serial bahu. Is this qualifcation enf 4 India’s Education Minister?”

The Congress was quick to join in. “What a Cabinet of Modi? HRD Minister (Looking after Education) Smriti Irani is not even a graduate! Look at her affidavit at ECI site pg 11!” Congress spokesperson Ajay Maken tweeted.

In her affidavit, Smriti said she had done bachelor of commerce Part-1 from the School of Open Learning (correspondence), University of Delhi, in 1994 after clearing Class XII in 1993. A university professor said Part-1 refers to one year of the three-year programme.

Without going into the controversy, academic Andre Beteille said: “In the modern world, we need to have someone who has some grasp of the education system. He or she may not necessarily be a vice-chancellor. But it would not be easy to take charge as minister unless he or she has knowledge or experience inside the system.”

Yashpal, former University Grants Commission chairperson, said educational qualification was not a prerequisite for becoming a minister. He said Smriti appeared confident and may have studied more in an informal system.

“You do not choose politicians on the basis of degrees. There is no need to make a campaign about her qualification. Maybe, she has a passion for education,” he said.

N.R. Madhava Menon, a legal educator, said: “A minister should be assessed on the basis of performance. When the Constitution allows anybody to contest and become a minister, I don’t agree with such a debate.”

Lawyer Ashok Agrawal, an activist who has filed several cases relating to violation of Right to Education norms, said: “The minister’s job is to give direction and ideas. Officials do the rest.” A good doctor, he added, may not necessarily be a good health minister.


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