It has been 2 years since Narendra Modi took oath as the PM of India. Amongst many achievements of the government it has most importantly filled people of India with immense pride and installed a sense of confidence. And one of the key ministries of the government is HRD ministry as many in BJP-RSS see HRD ministry as a way to create a more right leaning ecosystem. But unfortunately the minister of HRD Smt. Smriti Irani has been in the media limelight more than any other minister of the government for the wrong reasons. From the issue for IIT veg-nonveg to agitation in Hyderabad University to the latest JNU controversy, Irani has been in the eye of the storm for a good part in last 2 years.
All that notwithstanding, how has the minister performed? As they say proof of the pudding is in the eating. Recently Anand Ranganathan published a very detailed article on the performance of the ministry and pointed out many areas where the ministry has not performed well.
But for many BJP core voters & well wishers, most important work for HRD ministry was to repeal the Right to Education Act 2009, which was brought in by UPA or to amend it. Another important point was to bring in a new Education policy which was stated to be put forward at the 2 year mark by the minister herself. 26th may 2016 came and went, still no sign of any new education policy.
One of the reasons why many want RTE to be done away with is that it is making it difficult for majority ( read Hindu’s) to run schools due to the provision of 25% reservation for EWS (Economically weak students). Not that we don’t want EWS to study but 25% quota is not a small number but without any economic support from government many schools are being closed due to this.
“One of the fundamental provisions of RTE is a minimum 25% quota for economically weaker section (EWS) students that all private schools run by the majority (Hindus) have to provide. In theory, the concerned State Governments are supposed to reimburse the private schools for these EWS students.”
This is one of the many short comings of RTE as highlighted in the article. There have been number of protests against RTE by various organisations running chain of schools across India. If this type of quota was to be done it should have been done for all schools and not just for schools run by certain community.
All said and done Irani as HRD minister has not been able to make sure that certain core issues be perused while on other hand, political parties like AAP are changing Education policies to suit their political ideology. They had in 2015 made a list of recommendations for many college boards under DU giving prominent positions to journalists who favor them. And when questioned those journalists are justifying this as correct due to ideological differences as they don’t want people from RSS to get prominent position in educational institutes.
Many supporters of BJP-RSS argue that we don’t have a ‘Right-Wing’ ecosystem. But unless certain core issues are followed up with same energy are other core issues are taken up by the government, this change will never happen. Many wrongs in the education sector need to be corrected. Many historical facts are to be highlighted including the pre & post independence struggle where prominence has been given to only certain few.
Smriti Irani by all means is an able leader but she can take a leaf from government of Rajasthan which is trying to amend certain regulations of RTE under CM Vasundhra Raje and hopefully we expect Irani to unveil new education policy in coming months. Raje has done many core reforms and is leading the charge on reforms when it comes to states as per this article. But on RTE many state governments have varied views, while the governments of Rajasthan and Gujarat are seeking amendment; the government of Maharashtra is hell bent to implement RTE in its current form.
Education is one of the key areas where the government needs to take charge and make concrete changes which can have long lasting benefits as we are one of the youngest countries in the world with large number of youth. With the right Education policy we will be able to create sustainable development for coming years as well as create a line of thought which isn’t socialist or regressive in nature as has been happening over the past so many years.
With UP election coming in 2017, we may have a cabinet reshuffle. If this is true, it’s about time Prime Minister Modi takes a call on non-performing ministers and gets a more ability oriented administration in place. We didn’t vote for a make-shift government on cultural and core issues but for a strong government which can peruse all those important issues thereby preventing mishaps like those in Kairana, UP.